Community gathers for town PRIDE

Friday, May 30, 2008

There is a man named Howard Harris who epitomizes the meaning of actions speaking louder than words.

During a community meeting Thursday evening at Roachdale Elementary School put together by Delta Theta Tau Sorority to improve life in the small town, Harris spoke to the crowd.

Three years ago Harris headed a movement in his church to take part in the Adopt a Highway program. He and the group he put together clean a two-mile stretch at the entrance to Roachdale by the Christian Church.

Howard met Sorority member Bonnie Yahraus through church. She was so impressed by him that she talked about his contribution to the town of Roachdale as an example of what she would like to see others do in the town.

Harris, who is wheelchair bound, explained that when his group first began picking up trash, they had 12 bags.

"Now we only have two or three. It makes a difference every time we do it. The best response is not only being there but helping something grow," said Harris.

That is what the Roachdale PRIDE movement is all about. -- starting small, but planning to grow.

PRIDE stands for Preserving Roachdale's Identity Enthusiastically and are the key words for any projects which come out of the meeting. Those attending were asked to fill out a survey defining the key indicators connecting people, looking at the physical appearance of the town and asking for community input on long-term goals.

"We want the community's input and help in determining what we need and in finding ways to accomplish that. We hope everyone will come forward with ideas and help," Yahraus told the group.

"Write down what you think needs to be done and what you would be interested in working on," she instructed the crowd.

The group also heard from Jill Rateike from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), Susie Bruce with Rise 2020 and Elaine Peck, director of the Putnam County Foundation, regarding grants and ways to procure money for planning and projects.

"You have a lot to celebrate in Roachdale," said Peck who is eager to work with the group.

She described some of the grant programs available such as Main Street and Community Block Grants and what they could mean to the Roachdale community.

Yahraus asked the group if they remembered a time when the town had a "clean sweep" day.

"Everyone would start by sweeping their porch, and then their sidewalk and they moved on to the street. By the end all the sidewalks would be clean as well as the streets. What a great idea," exclaimed Yahraus.

Another audience member and part-time Roachdale resident suggested thinking about the cost of energy and the effect it will have on people migrating toward their job.

His suggestion was to think about bringing some small businesses to town and thinking about what Roachdale wants to be.

"That's the hard suggestions we've been looking for," said Yahraus. "We've looked at a lot of soft ideas, but we need a forward thinking mentality too."

Jana Brothers took the microphone at one point and told the crowd her idea.

"I was walking down the street with an adjuster from Ohio. Everyone we met waved or spoke. I know he had to be thinking wow, what a great place. We can all smile and greet people by name every time we see them on the street or in a store. It starts right here. We can do this," insisted Brothers.

Lastly, Yahraus told the group about a July 11-12 event sponsored by the Roachdale VFW and the Bob Allen family.

"They are going to have a fish fry with entertainment and a car show. Maybe we can do some things at this event too," said Yahraus.

Some ideas tossed out included having a pet parade, a possible bake-off, merchants having a sidewalk sale and putting together a flea market.

"We want your ideas. Write them down on your surveys. Tell us what you are willing to do," said Yahraus.

Surveys are still available and can be picked up at the local bank, churches and from the sorority members.

The groups' next step is looking over the surveys and putting together committees to work on the projects which result from them.

"If everybody looks to somebody else, nothing's going to get done. You and I are the community, it's up to us," concluded Yahraus.

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