Rutland Herald – New leader announced for Project VISION
Written by Patrick McArdle and originally posted on the Rutland Herald.
The future of Project VISION might be more secure after the announcement Thursday, during their December meeting, of new leader Mark Stockton, owner of Stockton Security and a public figure known for the “Stuff a Cruiser” food drive and winning the “Newly”wed Game last year, also to benefit food shelves.
In October, Joe Kraus, who had been the only chairman for VISION since it started, announced he would step down after this month’s meeting.
VISION is run by the Rutland City Police Department but depends on volunteers in its mission to promote and support Rutland and the Rutland area in a positive way. Formed at a time when the opioid crisis was prominent, including an article in the New York Times, VISION was created by then acting RCPD chief James Baker who wanted to organize volunteers to bring greater hope to the community.
Kraus began the introduction of Stockton by saying VISION leaders wanted to find a successor who would “do Project VISON justice.”
“Earlier this week, I had a very long conversation with this person, late into the evening. I went to bed that night, and I slept like a baby. Because, damn, did we find the right person,” he said.
Cmdr. Matthew Prouty, who runs VISION for the RCPD, said leaders had to “find a person who was highly respected in the community.” Prouty plans to retire in 2021 as well.
Prouty said Stockton was a longtime business owner and, importantly to him, a veteran.
Stockton told the VISION audience, who attended remotely, that it was a little difficult to talk to them because Prouty’s introduction touched him.
However, he told them he was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and he has been married almost 40 years
Stockton recalled his first visit to Rutland in 1966 as part of a field trip for cross-country skiing from Pittsfield High School to Killington.
He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
For almost 40 years, Stockton ran a martial arts school and organized tournaments.
After describing his background, Stockton started to explain his interest in VISION by saying, “I love Rutland.”
“I guess what I’m trying to say is … I hope I can be as of assistance as much as Joe has. I told Joe, I love this community. It’s my home. I raised our children here and this place was the best place to have a multiracial family. Our kids were phenomenal here. They all became something,” he said.
Stockton, who is Black, said his security business has been in Rutland for almost 21 years. He has three kids and two grandchildren.
The best way to lead is to communicate, Stockton added.
“My motto is this: Listen. All we have to do is just listen,” he said.
Stockton expressed support for earlier discussions at the meeting about expanding the diversity in the Rutland area.
“We can be the melting pot of New England. We have it here. We have all of that here and all we have to do is reach out our hands and say, ‘Let’s make it happen,’” Stockton said.
After Stockton spoke, Prouty said he remembered the Stuff-a-Cruiser food drive was Stockton’s idea.
“That’s what I love about working with you — we just come up with something, we get together, we knock it out,” he said.
Mary Moran, former superintendent of Rutland City Public Schools, said she was “thrilled” with the choice of Stockton as VISION’s new leader. Stockton had noted during his remarks that he and Moran had developed a solid relationship while his kids were in the schools.
“I think it’s a perfect match for the project, for the city,” she said.
Much of the meeting on Thursday was dedicated to saying goodbye to Kraus as VISION leader, including participation and comments from Baker, former RCPD officer and current Wilmington town manager Scott Tucker, RCPD Chief Brian Kilcullen and Kraus’ son, Aaron.
Kraus spoke emotionally as he addressed VISION members as chairman for the last time.
Kraus had been a leader at Central Vermont Public Service but after it became Green Mountain Power, his position “went away,” he said. He and his wife didn’t want to leave Vermont, but he said he was confronted with the question of what he would do with his life.
He attended the earliest VISION meetings and was eventually “asked to chair what was initially a very unruly group.”
“With the benefit of hindsight, I now know that I needed Project VISION, much more than Project VISION ever needed me. Serving as your chair has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I’ll be forever grateful for this opportunity,” he said.