Community assessment conducted at Rec Center

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

From staff reports

Lewisburg's business and government leaders, as well as its residents, are participating in an assessment of their community in the hope that greater self awareness will foster improvements and indicate how problems may be avoided and/or resolved.

The general public is invited to meet and speak with a Community Assessment Team from Wyoming during a Town Meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Lewisburg Recreation Center on Mooresville Highway. 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. That state's office conducts such reviews for communities in other states because it gives them insights on their circumstances.

In early December last year, Lewisburg councilmen sanctioned such a project here as recommended by the city's Community Development Committee.

"Sometimes it's good to have a third party look in," the Rev. Leland Carden said Monday night while reviewing the various groups of citizens who will be meeting with the Wyoming Rural Economic Development Office officials.

Pastors, bankers, law enforcement officers, young people, health care leaders, businessmen and women, retailers and economic developers, among other categories of people in this community will be asked to answer questions about this city and its community at large.

The areas of discussion include: major problems or challenges facing the citizenry; the strengths and assets of the community; and what people would like to see develop in this community in various time frames such as 5-10 years and further into the future.

City Economic Developer Greg Lowe became aware of the free service provided by the Wyoming office when he attended seminars in last year. 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 be 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 was anticipated as being conducted during the second week of April.

During a city council meeting last winter, Councilmen Steve Thomas and Ronald McRady called for approval of the project, estimated at a cost of no more than $2,000.

McRady had attended a Community Development Committee meeting on the subject and endorsed the community assessment, effectively saying that sometimes 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 other areas of interest, McRady said. An unbiased report is to be presented.

Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. asked, "If we get this report, are we fully committed to do it, 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 endorsed reading the report and said officials should be thinking about what it means and then examining the prospective use of the suggestions.

The council voted unanimously to support the project.