On Tuesday evening, October 25, St. John Baptist Church hosted the Lonoke community in the church’s recently added multipurpose room for the Kick Start Lonoke monthly Steering Committee meeting. Nearly 70 members of the public were in attendance, enjoying in-depth discussions with neighbors and subject-matter leaders regarding the six focus areas to be addressed by the Kick Start Lonoke Process.
Pastor Byron Calhoun welcomed the community on behalf of St. John’s Baptist Church and spoke of the unity demonstrated by the energetic crowd that joined together that evening.
The event opened with a talk by Lonoke Primary School Principal Amanda Rather and Lonoke Elementary School Principal Karen Gibbs regarding the standards-based report card system now utilized by the District. As a partner of the independent Kick Start Lonoke movement, the Lonoke School District is a vital player in achieving the progress and growth sought by the community through this process. Because the education of our students is key to creating a vibrant, multi-generational community ready for the challenges of the future, Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Bailey has committed to participate as a member of the Kick Start Lonoke Executive Team and has provided school facilities for meetings throughout the process.
Following the introduction and opening remarks, the crowd of nearly 70 attendees was then grouped into six smaller discussions that rotated among different stations for 5-10 minute sessions. These sessions addressed the topics of Infrastructure, Branding & Marketing, Downtown & Retail Development, Beautification & Recreation, Housing & Real Estate, and Jobs & Education.
For each of these topics, attendees were asked to describe their personal perspective on what is working, what needs improvement, and what needs to happen in the next five years. Representatives from Central Arkansas Planning & Development District (CAPDD), Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center, and THRIVE Center were on hand to facilitate each station and guide the conversations.
The initial responses gathered during the topical discussions at this meeting will fuel the conversations in the coming months, as Action Teams are formed to address each of the six areas of focus. At the end of the evening, members of the community in attendance were invited to select an Action Team corresponding with the topic that reflects their personal area of interest or passion. This call to join an Action Team is still active and open for members of the community to participate, beginning with the next monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 15.
Refreshments for the evening were generously provided by Kick Start Lonoke Executive Committee member Suzanne Dorsey and Lonoke First Assembly.
In his closing remarks, Mayor Wayne McGee thanked the crowd who attended, noting that the healthy turnout was an encouraging sign for the community.
The Executive Committee would again like to gratefully acknowledge the hospitality and generosity of The congregation and leadership of St. John Baptist Church, including Deacon Freddie Jones, Rev. Garry Harris, Landee DeSaussure, and Patrice Smith for preparing the facility and ensuring that the community received a warm welcome. Additionally, a special thanks is due to Pastor Byron Calhoun for his energy, vision, and heart for Lonoke.
Return to www.kickstartlonoke.wordpress.com for updates on the November 15 public meeting to be held at 12:00 noon.