This is SRDC’s Bob Flint’s column in the most recent SRDC newsletter

This is always an emotional time of year and an opportunity to take stock, but perhaps because of the pandemic and the stress of the past two years, we’re all a bit more reflective than usual as 2021 comes skittering to an end.

I’ve strived to be cognizant of everyone who has been involved, in one way or another, with the J & L Plant 1 demolition project, as that has (finally and remarkably) moved forward this fall. But there has been one constant – no matter who was in my Chair here or on the Board or with the various state, town or EPA partners involved – the person who has been on this ride since the beginning is the retiring (kind of) Executive Director of the Mt. Ascutney Regional Commission, my good friend Tom Kennedy.

We’ll get to the “kind of” retiring in a moment.

The Mt. Ascutney Regional Commission (MARC) is one of SRDC’s closest partners and is an invaluable resource to our area towns, in so many ways that most people don’t realize. As terrific as their staff is/has been, the main reason that MARC is such a vital presence in Southern Windsor County is Tom Kennedy.

Tom is not only smart, quick and, yes, opinionated, but he has a tremendous heart and vision and is genuinely interested and invested in helping to make our area a better place in any way, shape or form. He has been one of the leaders of the Regional Planning Commissions in the state for many years and was critical to the creation of Vermont’s Downtown Program (there are several Designated Downtowns and Village Centers in the region) among other things.

But, while Tom has been prominent in Vermont, to me, it’s the hands-on involvement he has had with our area towns that has made a difference. He has had a hand in seemingly every major project in our communities in the past 30 years, whether it’s housing developments, wastewater or transportation projects, brownfield assessments or the creation/evolution of what is now the Southern Windsor/Windham Counties Solid Waste District.   And there’s much more than that.

Tom and I connect several times each week and collaborate on specific projects as well as comparing notes and developing a shared understanding of how we can best advocate with government agencies and officials (state and federal) to provide resources for the needs of the region. We laugh, we confide and, yes, we even argue once in a while. I will even admit that he’s right…. on occasion!

As for the “kind of” retiring piece. Tom is turning over the reigns at MARC to Jason Rasmussen, who is also a long-time friend/colleague and who will do a terrific job. Tom will be settling into a role working on specific community development projects, which, frankly, means he and I will still be doing the crazy things we have been and trying to work together to make things positive things happen in our area communities.

Here’s to my brother in arms – thanks for all you have done for SRDC, for me personally, and for the residents of Southern Windsor County.