Welcome back, Jon!

Nothing could please me more than sharing this news: Jon Groveman, a dear friend to sustainability, is returning to the Vermont Natural Resource Council after serving as General Counsel for the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (since 2011), and as Chair of the Natural Resources Board (appointed in 2015.)

Jon will be the new Policy and Water Program Director at the VNRC, but the benefit of his experience and passion for the work will no doubt be felt throughout the organization.

Having served above and beyond the call as Water Program Director and General Counsel at the VNRC for a number of years, Jon accepted the appointment at ANR in order to see that agency into a new and more meaningful role under the stewardship of Secretary Deb Markowitz.

In the interim, VNRC has grown in size and influence with the commingling of its skills and resources with those of Vermont Conservation Voters to become the keystone of Vermont environmental policy and education that it is today. (Full disclosure: I am proud to currently serve on the board of the VCV.)

With Jon rejoining the ranks, we can look forward to a dynamic future of advocacy for sustainable living at the VNRC, that matches the demands of twenty-first century policy questions.

If all this ‘endorsement’ sounds unusually florid, even for me, it is because Jon was an influence on me at the dawn of my late-flowering grassroots involvement.

For more than ten years, as we, of the Northwest Citizens for Responsible Growth fought to save our local economy and prime agricultural soils from Walmart, Jon was our legal representative and so much more.

We have Jon and his family to thank for the time they sacrificed together so that all of the little legal battles on the way to the big one could be fought in turn. Some of those battles brought important victories for water protection that will benefit Franklin County despite the fact that we were ultimately unable to stop the store from being built.

In the interim won by Jon’s hard labor, market influences within Walmart and the economy as a whole have worked to minimize the store’s ultimate impact on the area. Unlike in Williston, the success of the Walmart application has not resulted in the explosion of secondary growth that was expected to follow.

At this writing, St. Albans’ Walmart (like the cheese) stands alone in the middle of a vast tract of undeveloped property with only a small credit union on the corner of the lot to keep it company.

As it turns out, this may be fortunate for St. Albans, since Walmart has recently announced closure of hundreds of stores and the lay-off of thousands of workers. Walmart is no longer the anchor store it once was, and the big box store is rapidly approaching the same fate as conventional department stores that went the way of the dinosaur.

Jon remains a hero to many friends in Franklin County.  As we look with foreboding to the critical significance of water issues in our future, we are comforted to know that Jon Groveman will be our champion in the courts and beyond.

Welcome home, Jon!

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

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