Editorial: A bold move for Rutland

Rutland Mayor Chris Louras made a bold play by launching an initiative to bring up to 100 refugees from Syria into the city. That initiative was cemented this past Tuesday when he held a press conference to announce a cooperative venture with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program to start the resettlement this fall. Not surprisingly, the mayor took a little heat about keeping the initiative secret from city alderman and from Rutland County legislators. Louras maintained that the work between state and federal counterparts required confidentiality.
And while he attempted to share the news with board members the night before Tuesday’s announcement, it was reported that one of the first alderman he told leaked it on social media — another fallout with this new age of communication. Trust is hard when it is so easy to leak confidential news to so many so easily.
But the question of trust, and of legislators being blindsided, is beside the point. The issue is bringing 100 new family members to Rutland County, finding them jobs, housing, fitting them into schools and meshing their lives into the neighborhoods there. Louras said the initiative includes approximately 30 families, who would begin arriving every two weeks or so starting in October. It is a significant undertaking, but it could have significant rewards.
“As much as we will be helping these refugees, their presence will benefit the entire region by adding to the flavor and energy of our neighborhoods and stoking our economic engines,” said Carol Tashie, a farmer and community leader, as reported by VTDigger. Added Gov. Shumlin in a written statement: “Today, Rutland showed the rest of the country and the world that the values of respect for others, caring for those who need it most, and common decency are still alive and well in Vermont.” Both statements reflect well on Vermont and Vermonters.
— Angelo S. Lynn

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