A host of community officials, businessmen and educators, including representatives from all over the Tri-County were on hand at the Corbin Technology Center to take part in a Community Focus Forum sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University.
The meeting was designed to allow those in attendance to discuss different areas in which they believe EKU can help the community in any one of five areas. The group handed out questionnaires, which were to be completed individually, asking those of the three main concerns regarding education, health, economy, government and environmental issues.
“We felt it was time for us to reach out to the community and see what we can do,” meeting facilitator Sondra Stevens said. “We are going to try to put all this together and see how EKU can help the community in any of the five focus areas.
“It may not be just EKU that can help, but it could be how we can partner with those in the community so that we can stop competing and overlapping each other and work together,” she added.
Also in attendance was EKU representative Bob Sahdur, who is the Director of the school’s new Office of Regional Stewardship. Shadur discussed his job and explained what he will be hoping to accomplish in his new capacity, as well as what his office will be responsible for in the community.
A hanout given to those stated that the ORS was designed to marry community and EKU resources in the design and implementation of programs and projects that will address communities’ needs in the five areas of discussion.
“The first thing people ask me is what is regional stewardship,” Shadur said. “We here in Kentucky are the first and only have determined to be the first and only state or commonwealth in the U.S. that is promoting the regional stewardship across the entire Commonwealth, which is an office we hope will have an impact on our citizens.
“Each university has been assigned a service region, for EKU, it is a 22 county,” he added. “The ORS at each university is responsible for undertaking a community driven initiative, and I cannot stress those word enough. A community driven initiative is what we are after to determine how the quality of life in the community can be improved in the five areas we are discussing today.”
Once the handouts were completed, attendees were asked to assemble according to their specific professions, using their questionnaires as a foundation to discuss area as w whole and decide on the top three strengths, as well as the top three concerns.
Later in the meeting, groups were to prioritize the top three overall concerns for the county, as well as brainstorm in an effort to discuss any programs or resources that might be developed to help address those concerns. Prior to the close of the meeting, those in attendance were asked to develop an action plan.
Due to press deadlines, the News Journal will provide a follow up story to reveal the findings of the forum and make public their suggestions as far as solutions go.