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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Time running out to share vision of Sikeston

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

(Photo)
Final meeting will be held on Thursday evening

SIKESTON -- Have an idea for where you would like to see Sikeston in the future?

Then time is running out to share your vision. The final stakeholder meeting for Sikeston Vision, a strategic planning process that examines the needs in Sikeston, is Thursday. It looks at the future direction and how citizens can address those needs, while growing the community.

"It's not to late -- people can still present any ideas they have," said co-chair Carolyn Harris. The city has set up a special e-mail and voicemail to hear comments, 471-2512 ext. 4000 or l Vision@Sikeston.org

And those involved want to hear what anyone has to say, just as organizers have through the entire process.

"The public has been invited to participate at every step of the way," said Jim Schwaninger, co-chair of the project. "And more than 150 citizens have been involved at one point or another in the strategy process."

Prior to the first stakeholder session in late June, about 350 invitations were sent to a cross-section of Sikeston residents, according to Linda Lowes, director of governmental services for the city. Although not all were able to participate, she said those making their voices heard have been diverse.

"And I'm amazed at how different people have all identified the same needs, regardless of gender, ethnic, education or economic backgrounds," she said. "We're really coming to a consensus on what our issues are."

According to the Sikeston Vision page on the city's Web site, the process "allows residents to develop a future vision for the community by assessing current realities and trends (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), establishing goals in key performance areas, then implementing measures to accomplish the agreed upon goals."

The city has partnered with the National Civic League for Sikeston Vision. After the first meeting, key performance areas were identified.

"We looked at the ideas that came out of that first meeting and a group met and put all those ideas together," said Harris. "They were then grouped into four key areas.

Those areas are: economic development, education, housing and quality of life.

And each committee has done it's homework -- they've not only developed their own issues and vision statements, but also strategies.

"Each one has its own thought pattern and input from different individuals," said Lowes.

Harris said the committees have "really taken everyone into consideration."

"They have come together and their thoughts have been very, very, very good," Harris continued. "They have come up with some very good plans that can be implemented once the process is all over."

For instance, the economic development group has strategies to establish an industrial development corporation, assure the availability of a well-trained workforce and more. Education goals include: to increase technological training to attract more business, have more security for safer schools and have educational expansion. Those in housing looked at statistics, code enforcement documents and at the LCRA Urban Renewal plan in its mini-vision for home ownership, to improve housing conditions and convert more housing to be owner-occupied. Those interested in quality of life broke into four sub-committees, looking at Sikeston's image, recreation, leadership and health and safety.

Each of the four committees will give a presentation at Thursday's meeting.

And although the last stakeholder session is on Thursday, it isn't an end-all, Schwaninger pointed out. "The four presentations will expose overlaps and maybe even conflicts which the final report-writing committee will negotiate," he said.

All committee notes will be handed over to another group of people who will write the plan and later present it to the City Council and residents, said Harris.

A report is due out later in 2009, after which the implementation will begin, said Lowes. Plans will include short- and long-term processes.

More information about the Sikeston Vision process is available online at www.sikeston.org/SikVisionHome.htm. Once on the site, people can request an invitation to the Wiki site, which also includes committee reports.

If you go

What: Sikeston Vision

When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Sikeston High School Cafeteria

Following Thursday's meeting, final report writing will begin for the strategic planning process. For more, call 471-2512 ext. 4000.