As Vermont's first significant snowfall of the year threatens to create slippery roads and sidewalks, the residents of Poultney Friday learned that a $20,800 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant will help keep their sidewalks clear and their downtown accessible. The grant helped the town buy a new tractor with a sidewalk plow, snow blower, and sweeper that will be used in and around the village.
"This grant is about more than a sidewalk plow, it is about making sure Poultney's cultural and economic hub is accessible year round," said USDA Rural Development (RD) State Director Ted Brady. "This means a stronger and healthier community and economy. USDA recognizes that Vermont's downtowns are unique and that public investments in them spark private job creating investments. That is why USDA RD has invested more than $4 million in Poultney since 1999."
"We are excited about receiving the new sidewalk plow through the assistance of the USDA," said Poultney Town Manager Jonas Rosenthal. "The new sidewalk plow replaces our 1985 plow and comes with new attachments and options for snow removal such as snow blower and sweeper functions. Our equipment replacement fund has taken a beating in the past several years and it has been very hard to keep up. This grant comes at a very necessary time and will help us tremendously".
In a joint comment, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said: "Through its rural development initiatives and in many other ways, USDA is a true partner in promoting the economic vitality of rural communities across Vermont."
Rosenthal said the town used the grant to buy a new B3000 Kubota tractor with a snowplow attachment, a snow blower attachment, and a sweeper attachment. The total cost was $37,875.
Brady noted that Poultney has recently built new sidewalks and made numerous improvements to buildings in its downtown resulting in increased pedestrian traffic.
Much of that increased traffic is due to the new Stone Valley Community Market located on Main Street and Green Mountain College's community meeting space at the Bentley Hall. Both projects were developed in part using USDA RD funds.
Following Friday's news conference, Brady, Rosenthal, and other USDA officials toured several Poultney initiatives that have received USDA RD funding in recent years, including:
-The Stone Valley Market ($31,800 Rural Business Enterprise Grant in 2010)
-The Poultney Senior Center ($40,000 Community Facilities Grant in 2004)
-Bentley Hall ($49,500 Community Facilities Grants in 2011 and 2012)
-Stone Bridge Inn Municipal Building ($132,000 Community Facilities Loan and
Grant in 2004 and 2007)
Brady noted that the sites he visited Friday represented a small portion of the more than $4 million USDA RD has invested in Poultney since 1999. The agency has made multiple water and wastewater loans and grants in the past decade that have benefited local residents, the elementary school, and local businesses.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted that Poultney's new snow plow is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy. He said that's just one reason why Congress must pass a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
USDA RD administers and manages housing, business, and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. For more information on USDA RD visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/nh-vtHome.html or contact USDA RD at (802) 828-6000 in Vermont and (603) 223-6035 in New Hampshire.