The city of Heflin and the Cleburne County Chamber of Commerce will host the second public discussion with area residents at the Heflin Community Arts Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The discussion is part of a three-year planning process to create more livable communities in the East Alabama Region including Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Etowah, Randolph, Talladega and Tallapoosa counties, said Ashley Myers, regional planner for the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission.
The process was funded by a $500,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded to the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission in 2010, Myers said.
The first discussion, held in April, focused on transportation, housing, education, jobs, health and community engagement. During that conversation the partnership took surveys from the participants. The partnership hoped to gather surveys from 1 percent of the region’s residents or 5,000 surveys, Myers said. The partnership surpassed that goal in May with 5,464 surveys completed, she said. She said in Cleburne County, 184 people completed surveys - 34 more than the goal of 150.
At this second meeting, the partnership will present its interpretation of residents’ goals for their communities for feedback.
This conversation will focus on identifying and prioritizing residents’ goals for the community, Myers said. Those goals will become a part of Clear Plan 2030, the long-term plan to create the Cleburne County the county’s residents envision, Myers said.
The partnership will take feedback from residents and create a proposed community plan which it will present in November. That plan will be available for comment and revisions will be made based on the feedback, Myers said. The final plan will be presented in January 2014, she said.
“This is their plan,” said Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith. “This is a good way for us to see what the people want and what the people need.”
He attended the first conversation and was surprised by how many people liked the same things about the community. Most people liked the close-knit, family atmosphere of Cleburne County, along with its proximity to the opportunities available in Atlanta and Birmingham, he said. But many also wanted to see growth in the community, he added.
“We did want to seek out to have more opportunities here like for jobs and more choices,” Smith said. “But we still wanted to keep that same sense of small town feel about it, which is difficult to do.”
The Cleburne Conversation is scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. today at the Heflin Community Arts Center.
Staff writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.