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Activities, opportunities discussed at forum
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The need for jobs, more activities for teens as well as adults and improving educational opportunities were among some of the visions for Henry County and Martinsville discussed in a forum Tuesday.
The forum was the second Community Conversation, or public input session, held this week by the United Way of Henry County and Martinsville. The United Way plans to use people’s comments to set goals this year and in the coming years, according to Melany Stowe, a United Way board member who is heading up the strategic planning process.
Participants were asked what kind of community they want here, what five things stand in the way of becoming that kind of community, and what could be done to address needs in the community.
Five people attended Monday’s Community Conversation, and about a dozen were at the second event Tuesday at the main branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library.
The final session will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 21 in the Artisan Center, 54 W. Church St., Martinsville.
“It is very important for people to attend” the sessions and offer their ideas, Stowe said.
Attendees Tuesday were given a time limit to respond to the questions, and Barbara Waldron, who completed the New Civic Leaders program, guided the session.
Many participants noted the need for good paying jobs, an educated/trained work force that is drug free, and the need to be willing to accept responsibility to get a job done.
Maintaining the “friendly, small town atmosphere” and educational and cultural opportunities also were listed, as was a clean and safe community, instilling a sense of self respect, and creating a vision for the future that city and county residents will support.
Co-existing peacefully and respecting differences, cultivating an attitude of “living here because we want to be here” rather than because “we can’t get out,” and concentrating on health to help prevent obesity, teen pregnancies and substance abuse also were among the opinions expressed Tuesday.
To create that community, opinions ranged from better communication about events and having more events for teens and adults, while doing away with things such as greed and the lack of a sense of community.
Creating educational partnerships with other communities to grow jobs and educational opportunities, and expecting leadership in the city and county to work well together and communicate also were among the responses.
“The split between the city and the county is a detriment,” one participant said.
Operating two school divisions and two governments is a waste of resources, and part of a paradigm mindset, participants said.
“We all want to remember how it was and go back there,” but that is not possible, one person said.
Other responses included taking personal responsibility, taking advantage of recreational opportunities such as the trail system, supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs, and “instead of welfare and unemployment, why don’t we pay people to mow and clean up the roads,” one person asked rhetorically.
Those responses, along with all the others, will be compiled and reviewed by the United Way board when setting a path for the future, Stowe said.
She added that many of the responses Tuesday were similar to those expressed during the first event Monday, but others were not.
A survey can be completed online at www.unitedwayofhcm.org.
Participants will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Visa card.