DRA public meetings slated for this week
By By Bill Crist
To determine Escambia County's eligibility for grant money through the Delta Regional Authority, the Coalition For A Healthier Escambia County is coordinating several meetings and interviews to help development a countywide needs assessment.
To help put the report together, the Coalition will be holding three town-hall style meetings as well as 36 structured interviews with various civic and business leaders.
The first public meeting will be held in Flomaton, at the city hall, at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The second meeting will be that afternoon in Brewton, at 4 p.m. at D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital, and the third will take place on Saturday at 7 a.m. at the Atmore Community Hospital.
According to Ruth Harrell, chairperson of the Coalition, the focus groups are an important part of the data gathering process.
"Everyone is needed for these meetings," she said. "The assessment is required for the county to be eligible for the next round of funding by the Delta Regional Authority. It is most important that there be good attendance at the focus groups in order to obtain valid, broad-based input from individuals at all levels of the community."
Earlier this year, the Escambia County Commission received $5,000 from the Authority to conduct the assessment.
The initial study grant was provided after Escambia County was added to the area that is under the jurisdiction of the Authority by U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions.
The Delta Regional Authority is a federally funded program that gives counties and communities grants to enhance the following areas: basic public infrastructure, transportation infrastructure for the purpose of facilitating economic development, business development with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and job training or employment-related education.
"There will be an opportunity for citizens to identify needs in the county in areas of basic infrastructure, economy, transportation, job training and other areas that are vital to the future of the county," Harrell said.