Meetings coming to community once again
Chris Berendt Staff Writer
Clinton citizens will have the chance to voice concerns and opinions on a gamut of citywide subjects, as well as get instant updates on what is being done in the community, as part of a series of annual district meetings that will once again bring Council representatives — and a comprehensive group of city staff and department heads — into neighborhoods in February and March.
District meetings, one for each of the five Clinton districts, intend to open the lines of communication between citizens and City Hall. They will be held at convenient locations for each district in order to encourage attendance.
City manager Shawn Purvis said staff looks forward to the annual round of meetings, which serve as an avenue to inform city staff about something which they may be unaware, or bring a concern or idea that could act as a catalyst for action.
“I look forward to the meetings as an opportunity to get new ideas. The less formal setting allows us to interact with residents who hopefully feel more comfortable and are willing to share their thoughts and concerns,” Purvis said. “Many of the best ideas come from our residents.”
Mayor Lew Starling and the City Council have always encouraged citizens to offer their ideas and express any concerns. Starling has pointed to the meetings as a great opportunity to do just that, outside of the formal setting of a regular monthly meeting. The district events have perennially turned the tables of typical City Council meetings to give residents a forum to be heard by their local representatives.
“The community meetings provide a great opportunity for citizens who do not typically come to monthly council meetings to express their concerns and provide us with feedback,” said Starling.
The City Council established the annual meetings several years back to provide citizens the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Council representatives and city staff. At each meeting, the city manager, city staff and department heads review accomplishments, answer questions, address concerns and receive feedback.
The mayor, the district Council member, members of city staff and all department heads — or a department representative — are present at each meeting. The format of the meetings begins with an introduction of all city officials and department heads, who then briefly review completed and ongoing projects in the city within their respective departments in the past year. The floor is then opened up to residents.
Just as the meetings serve as a forum to get residents’ input, they also allow a direct way for city officials to communicate ongoing or upcoming city projects, as well as their impact and benefits, to those citizens.
While city staff and department heads can regularly be reached at their offices or at regular meetings, the district meetings have served as another way for residents to come face-to-face with their Council representative and other city officials to voice concerns on what is affecting their neighborhoods, whether a zoning matter, police issue or another addressing the general quality of life.
By taking advantage of the forum, residents are not only looking out for their neighborhoods, but are helping departments do the same, city officials said.
“The meetings give us time to pass information along to the residents,” Purvis said. “They may have missed something from a regular Council meeting, or not seen an announcement in the paper, so the district meetings give us an opportunity to make sure we keep the community informed about upcoming events and projects.”
The district meetings begin on Thursday, Feb. 20, with Steve Stefanovich’s District 1 meeting at the Beaman Street Fire Station, and conclude with District 3’s March 20 meeting at the City Hall Auditorium with Council member Marcus Becton (see related box for full schedule). All meeting times are 7 p.m.
Those with questions about their district, visit the “Mayor and City Council” page on the city website, at www.cityofclintonnc.com, or call City Hall at 910-592-1961.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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