BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Lia Clark, a junior at Bellows Falls Union High School, is the newest and youngest member of the Rockingham Planning Commission. This seven-member board is elected by the Rockingham Select Board to oversee revisions to the town plan, which looks at the communities needs for the next 20 years.
Clark is the daughter of Tim Clark and Kristen Swartwout. She is president of her class and was named Elks Student of the Month in December. She is a member of the cross-country team and on the Howler student news committee. Most recently, she played the dynamic Charlie Bucket in the spring musical, “Willy Wonka.” However, it was her leadership in her school’s chapter of Envirothon – a program that connects students to the natural resources of their communities – that led to her position on the planning commission.
Town Planner, Chuck Wise, first met Clark in the fall when he was invited to speak on public land policy to the Envirothon team. Wise was caught off guard by the level of competency shown by the team of students. Much of the knowledge they shared was similar to conversations he had with colleagues twice their age.
Clark especially contacted Wise with both professional and thoughtful leadership. It was then that the idea for a student to join the planning commission emerged. Wise believes it’s thrilling to have a high school student’s perspective in this process.
Currently, the planning commission is in the process of selecting a consultant. Wise stated that Clark would be a key vote, as both candidates come with two very different strategies and perspectives. Clark will represent the youth. She is able to voice her perspective on how the land is used for recreation or commercial redevelopment in her town of Saxtons River.
Her assignment on the planning commission will continue through June 2018.
The next planning commission meeting is on Thursday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Waypoint Center. All meetings are open to the public.