Community assessment proposal well received

Friday, December 2, 2011

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

With approval from city councilmen, Lewisburg's Community Development Committee was scheduled Tuesday to assign responsibilities to members so a community assessment team may be accommodated here for its work next year.

Wyoming's Office of Rural Economic Development conducts community assessments as part of its duties to find ways for municipalities to conduct business in an efficient and user-friendly manner. Officials from that state will be invited here for an assessment.

Community Development Committee members recommended the assessment and, during the Nov. 8 council meeting, councilmen unanimously voted to have the Wyoming officials visit Louisburg.

City Economic Developer Greg Lowe became aware of the free service provided by the Wyoming office when he attended seminars in Cookeville a few months ago. The community assessment is conducted by about half a dozen people who gather information from area residents. The opinions of people here on what Lewisburg is like would the organized into an unbiased report that includes suggested goals on how to improve the town.

"I think it would be interesting to see people come in with fresh eyes," Lowe told the councilmen on Nov. 8 regarding a team of out-of-state people working to produce an unbiased community assessment.

The assessment might be conducted during the second week of April, a time frame mentioned by Lowe based on the availability of the assessors.

Councilman Steve Thomas seconded a motion by Councilman Ronald McRady to approve the project, estimated at a cost of no more than $2,000.

"What are we supposed to get from it?" Councilman Minor asked. "Will it be pie in the sky? I know things we ought to do but don't have the money for."

McRady attended a Community Development Committee meeting on the subject and endorsed the community assessment, effectively saying that sometime people are too close to something so they can't see the forest for the trees.

Community assessors talk with residents, church folk, sports people and those in another area of interests, McRady said. An unbiased report is to be presented.

Minor reacted saying, "If it's a realistic thing, then that's another story."

Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. saw some value in the plan, but didn't want wasted effort.

"If we get this report, are we fully committed to do it?" he asked about recommended goals. "Or, are we going to drop it?"

Implementation, Lowe said, would be up to the Community Development Committee, the panel tasked with the project.

Whitehead again endorsed reading the report and officials thinking about what it means and then examining use of the suggestions.

With that, there was a vote as Councilman Hershel Davis joined with the other four to fully support the project.