Interested in building community pride, more than 50 Jacksonville residents attended a community meeting Monday in hopes of getting to know one another better.
Whitney Carter, co-organizer of the community meetings, said considering the meeting was held simultaneously to the powwow, she was thrilled with the turnout.
“The goal is to bond citizens of Jacksonville, which includes learning backgrounds, to show a greater sense of community pride and to build a living, breathing database of resources,” she said.
Carter said between church groups, non-profits, families and community organizations, individuals with need can be connected to a resource.
“For example, if someone has an issue with trash at Buckner Park, well we can connect them with the Cherokee Charmers who are picking up trash next month,” she said.
Carter said her interested in community awareness peaked when a company was allegedly scamming residents in the neighborhood. She contacted the police out of concern for her neighbors.
Carter said she came into contact with Detective Javier Guerra, who is known for hosting community meetings and pushing for gang awareness after two families lost members due to gang violence.
“We want Jacksonville to be the area to raise children,” she said. “By achieving that goal, I believe we will see an increase in tourism and boost the economic development of the city.”
Carter said residents need to come together as one and leave segregation in the past to move forward with community growth.
“Something we all need to do is take a look at what we can become,” she said. “We are a small town and we need to lean on our neighbors.”
Between Guerra and Carter, messages have been sent to the community via flyer, email, social media and phone.
Presentations were given on karate lessons for children and adults, gangs in the area, establishing a neighborhood watch program and ways to revamp a lawn at no cost.
“A handout was given in Spanish and English on how to review and maintain a home,” Carter said. “They will bring back the handout at the next meeting and bring before and after pictures.”
Residents will rank each other on lawn transformation. Winners have a chance of winning a Sadler's giftcard, a rose bush from Tyler Rose Nursery or two new trashcans.
“At this point we are having positive, upbeat meetings and lots of questions,” she said. “I had someone ask, 'If I improve the look of my home, does that mean I have to pay more property taxes?'”
Carter said the question was an eye opener as several people did not know the property taxes were based on home valuation.
“I think it comes down to a game of telephone,” she said. “Where one person whispers in another person's ear. At the end of the day, it's just people here because they want to be here, and we just need to know how to communicate better.”
The meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Monday of every month at the Norman Activity Center. Next meeting's topic will be “How to raise a 'Jacksonville' Texan.”
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