Scott City residents invited to discuss needs Tuesday

Monday, February 17, 2003

Residents of Scott City are invited to a public meeting Tuesday to talk about resources the community's needs.

The 6:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall will be run by former state senator Jerry Howard of Dexter, Mo. In October, he was awarded a contract to catalog the needs of communities in the six Bootheel counties of Scott, Mississippi, Stoddard, New Madrid, Pemiscot and Dunklin.

"What we hoping to do is cause communities to reflect on their needs," he said.

The public meeting is intended to include both policy makers and the public. Discussions can range depending on the community, Howard said. Infrastructure and employment training are two topics sure to come up. Participants will be asked to fill out some forms.

By the end of March, Howard will have conducted 32 presentations throughout the Bootheel. Of the 71 communities in the Bootheel, 60 have organized governments. He expects to complete the job by middle of August.

Howard's contract is through Creative Communities Inc., a Malden-Mo.-based nonprofit organization that specializes in nontraditional vocational training, job placement and job advancement services.

Creative Communities was awarded a $297,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, which provides financial assistance to support essential public services in rural areas of the country.

Howard is gathering information so that Creative Communities can structure training programs.

Once the information has been assembled, Creative Communities will follow up by attempting to provide the services called for.

"Part of the goal is to try to help local communities locate resources," said Dennis Hardin, director of Creative Communities. "Then we try to help them access the resources."

Hardin said the Bootheel was targeted by the grant because of the relatively high rate of poverty.

The USDA grant has other parts. One is to help establish value-added crops. Value-added agriculture employs methods that increase the economic value of an agricultural commodity through changes in genetics, processing or diversification.

Another part is paying for an assessment of needs that can help promote entrepreneurship. Both those assessments are being conducted by the University of Missouri Extension Service.

Another component of the grant is a contract with Lincoln University in Jefferson City to provide different types of training to local governments in issues ranging from code enforcement to something as simple as the appropriate way to run a city board meeting.

"There are lots of different issues some of the smaller communities struggle with from time to time," Hardin said.

He said the findings of the survey will be provided to the communities after they are assembled.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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