Paris citizens expressed desires for more diverse community events, occurring at different times and locations, at the “Positively + Paris & Henry County” event Tuesday night.
The event, which took place at Krider Performing Arts Center and Paris Elementary School, broke into small groups to discuss various aspects of community life and improvement.
After two small group sessions, citizens reconvened to hear experts who had served as facilitators talk about the most prevalent and pressing needs in the community.
After presenting these ideas, citizens were given six sticker dots to vote for their favorite ideas in the PES cafeteria.
The item that received the most dots was diversity of community events, which was discussed in the recreation and tourism breakout session.
Citizens expressed desires for events at different times and locations, as well as different types of events.
The small group also discussed adding an amphitheater for events, or holding events in the beautified alleys in town.
Another thing that was brought up for events was appealing to more than one age group by scheduling events at certain times. An example that was given was an event with children’s and family activities in the afternoon, followed by a beer garden in the evening to appeal to older crowds.
The event diversity point received 50 dot stickers during the voting session.
Other ideas brought up during the recreation and tourism session included more lake resources, such as branded hotels, alternative lodging services such as web-based bed and breakfasts and more food options toward the lake, as well as park improvements including beautification of parks and the addition of a community garden.
The lake resource point received 20 votes and the park improvement point received 27.
WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE WANT
Youth talent ideas also garnered many votes, partly because of the many high school students who attended the event.
The idea of a safe gathering space received 44 votes.
This was explained as being similar to a college recreation center or student life facility. Students in the youth talent breakout session expressed a desire for a place they could hang out other than the Henry County High School parking lot.
The youth talent session also discussed job and service opportunities for youth still attending school, which received 43 votes, and increased youth voice and input such as community boards, think tanks, a mayor’s youth council and youth representation on county and city commissions. This received 37 votes.
The education and workforce development session’s most popular point was more emphasis and education regarding workplace “soft skills.”
These soft skills include how to write a resume and dress for an interview, as well as the importance of attending work every day. This idea received 28 points.
Another point brought up was a larger emphasis on vocational education. Many citizens in the group talked about working with Jackson State Community College for more specialized training focusing on what the local workforce needs.
The vocational education idea garnered 18 votes.
More focus on volunteer recruitment was another common theme in the education and workforce development session. Attendees were especially interested in recruiting men and senior citizens to work with community children and youth. This idea got 12 votes.
HELPING TREAT ADDICTION
In the health care breakout session, the most popular point made was regarding addiction services.
The group discussed more resources for alcohol abusers as well as individuals with opiate addictions. This idea got 24 votes.
Other topics included access to primary and urgent care services after normal business hours, which got 13 votes, and more local medical specialists, including dermatologists, psychiatrists and neurologists. This idea got 11 votes.
In the emergency services breakout session, a popular idea was warning sirens in more areas of the county. This idea got 19 votes.
Other ideas in emergency services included additional education on emergency services and how to use what’s available, which got 10 votes, and more law enforcement officers on street patrol, which got six votes.
In the public works session, the most popular idea, with 26 votes, was expanded recycling services.
The group discussed recycling pickup services as well as expanded access to services. The group also discussed mandatory trash pickup for county residents.
Public works session attendees also discussed more sidewalks, bike lanes and walking trails, which got 18 votes, and better road conditions and increased pavement plans, which got six votes.
GIVE US BETTER INTERNET
During the session devoted to infrastructure, broadband and transportation, a very common request was better access to reliable and affordable internet service in all parts of the county. This idea got 21 votes.
Another big topic of discussion for this session, with 14 votes, was better access to reliable transportation. Ideas pitched included ride-share apps and a community-based shared ride service.
This group discussed the development of a public business center that could provide computer and internet use, meeting rooms and other office commodities to entrepreneurs and others that need it. This idea got nine votes.
In the retail, industry and small business development session, the most popular idea was more support for start-ups and existing businesses. “Shop local” was a common theme among the group.
This idea received 21 votes.
The group discussed better customer service training for employees in the area, which got 16 votes, and making the community more attractive to bring younger people back to the community, which garnered 13 votes.
In the housing meeting, the most popular idea was housing for the homeless, which got 19 votes. The group discussed the lack of housing for the elderly, veterans and displaced families.
The housing group discussed preserving older homes and neighborhoods, which got eight votes, and a need for adequate, affordable and safe housing, which got four votes.
Paris City Manager Kim Foster said an online survey will be up soon for individuals who didn’t get to attend the meeting so they, too, can vote on these ideas.