‘Vermillion Can Do!’ planning meetings set

'Vermillion Can Do!' planning meetings set by M. Jill Karolevitz With the aid of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, organizers of �Vermillion Can Do!� foresee the region�s cultural diversity coming together to create an identity for the community of Vermillion.

The planning process for �Vermillion Can Do!� will begin with community gatherings on Feb. 16 and 17.

�Vermillion Can Do!� is a cultural planning process funded through NEA�s ArtsREACH program, which encourages community development and planning.

Partners in �Vermillion Can Do!� include the city of Vermillion, Clay County Commissioners, Vermillion Public Schools, The University of South Dakota, Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce and the Vermillion Area Arts Council. Each entity has provided matching funds for a $10,000 NEA grant which was applied for and approved last year.

The Vermillion Area Arts Council approached the other entities about a year ago, said Meg Quintal, president of the Vermillion Area Arts Council.

�We were the ones who wanted to apply for the grant and when we approached the other groups about matching funds, everybody felt it was time for this kind of a project,� she said. �They were very willing to provide the money.�

The success of �Vermillion Can Do!� depends on the broadest amount of participation and exchange of ideas among all of the Vermillion area citizenry, according to Quintal. She and co-project overseer Mayor Bill Radigan stress that the notion of �cultural� will be explored in its broadest sense, which includes viewpoints from all interests and backgrounds of those who call Vermillion and the region home.

�My personal hope for this project is that all aspects of the community come together to share with each other their special intersts, dreams and visions for Vermillion,� Quintal said. �I hope that Vermillion will develop a sense of its own identity.

�Traditionally, Vermillion has been a ?university community,� or ?a good place to raise children,� or ?a great place for artists,� or ?a small rural town,� or ?a rich, historical community�,� she continued. �It is a wonderful place, but we don�t have a sense of who we are as a group. ?Vermillion Can Do!� is a positive step forward in helping to determine that.�

At the heart of �Vermillion Can Do!� are the efforts of a steering committee, which will be organized as initial meetings are held. This committee will help gather and assess community information from a survey, focus groups and town meetings.

From this assessment process, key issues will be identified with goals and objectives developed, based upon community wishes and priorities.

Consultant and facilitator Ruth Brennan of Rapid City will visit Vermillion on Feb. 16 and 17 to meet with community volunteers. She will provide an overview and timeline for �Vermillion Can Do!�

�This process takes a period of time,� Brennan said. �Once a steering committee is named, they determine the basic needs of the community and vote on priorities. These may include renovation of facilities, arts education or working with tourism. From there, a plan is developed and small groups meet to discuss Vermillion�s choice of issues and the opportunities and challenges that need to be faced.�

A printed, working document which summarizes the �Vermillion Can Do!� meeting results, will be prepared at the project�s end in the fall.

All persons interested in participating are invited to sessions scheduled for Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. at the W.H. Over Museum,

and/or a no-host lunch meeting on Feb. 17 at noon at the Silver Dollar Restaurant. For those who wish to attend the noon meeting, call 624-8278 to help determine the number of people to be seated.

Volunteers may be designated representatives of a certain group or organization, or individuals interested in an energized community, Quintal said.

For mor information, call Joni Thomas, local project coordinator, at 624-8278, or Quintal at 677-5946 or 624-9647.

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