The City of Clinton’s annual round of district meetings is underway, as city officials once again visit neighborhoods affected by city policies, services and programs in order to inform residents about ongoing projects and receive feedback and concerns.
The City Council established the meetings over a decade ago to provide citizens the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Council representatives and city staff in all five Clinton districts. At each meeting, the city manager, city staff and department heads review accomplishments and give project updates, answer questions, address concerns and receive input.
Meetings kicked off this past Thursday at the Bellamy Center with District 4 and Councilwoman Jean Turlington, and will continue over the coming weeks in the city’s other four districts.
City officials rely on information from residents who attend the meetings in order to gauge performance, reinforce what is being well and improve in areas where concerns arise. City manager Tom Hart Jr. said the meetings offer an informal venue where residents can have one-on-one contact with their Council representative and Clinton’s key department heads and decision-makers.
Along with that particular Council representative, each meeting features any number of city department heads, including fire and police chiefs, public works and planning officials and others.
“It’s really kind of a listening tour,” said Hart. “It’s not just about saying ‘here’s all the things we’re doing, but it’s about listening. We want to talk about things we didn’t do well so we can get better. At the same time, we want to try to celebrate the things we did do well so we’ll be sure to do them again.”
That input — good and bad — is vital, especially when looking at how issues are resolved, the city manager noted.
“A lot of time when you debrief on certain issues, you focus on what went wrong,” he said. “That’s important, but you also want to go over what was done correctly so that can be repeated the next time.”
While city officials’ doors are open, Hart said the intimate setting provided by the district meetings are a key component in receiving that candid feedback.
“This gives people one more option to get in touch with us,” said Hart.
The goal is simple: open up lines of communication between citizens and City Hall and keep them open.
“We look forward to these meetings each year because we always receive great feedback and suggestions from our citizens,” Mayor Lew Starling has said.
Meetings are held at convenient locations for each district in order to encourage attendance. Meetings were pushed back to March and April a couple years ago, a move to avoid inclement weather conditions that have plagued meetings in recent years. The city is continuing on a similar path this year.
The meetings will all start at 7 p.m., with the exception of this Thursday’s District 3 meeting, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are as follows:
• Thursday, March 15; District 3; City Hall Auditorium (Councilman Marcus Becton)
• Thursday, March 22; District 2; Beaman Street Fire Station (Councilman Neal Strickland)
• Thursday, April 12; District 1; Beaman Street Fire Station (Councilman Daniel Ruggles)
• Thursday, April 26; District 5; Sampson Center (Councilman Darue Bryant)
Those with questions about the meetings can call City Hall at 910-592-1961. To find out the district in which you reside, visit the City of Clinton’s website, at www.cityofclintonnc.com. Under the “Government” drop-down menu, choose “Mayor and City Council” then follow the link to “Electoral districts.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.