ROCKINGHAM — Residents of Richmond County came together Tuesday night inside Pattan’s Downtown Grille to discuss the things they like about the county and how they can make it better.
The “For A Better Richmond County” group met for the first of four forums and during each meeting, the topic will be different.
“There are a lot of people here who care,” said Susan Kelly of the Richmond County Cooperative Extension office. “This will create an opportunity to use the resources we have.”
As participants came in, they were assigned to one of six tables. Although most people here know each other, it’s a way to get people’s different points of view out in the open and encourage them to step out of their comfort zones.
Each table nominated its own secretary to take notes on a large sheet of paper as the people at each table talked and discussed exactly what it is that they like about Richmond County. They were instructed to pick their top four.
Suggestions such as people, small-town charm and history were written down, but after a final tally, 26 votes went to education, 25 to natural resources, 18 to location and 17 to small-town feel. A few in the crowd were surprised by education and schools coming in first — not because it’s noteworthy, but because they said it’s seldom mentioned.
With Richmond County being only a couple hours drive from many metropolitan areas, location was obviously a big factor. In fact, Martie Butler of Richmond County Economic Development said she uses location as a selling point for development as a way to lure big businesses to the area.
Kelly said there is no plan or goal for the county group other than to get together periodically and talk about things.
“For A Better Richmond County” looks to meet together from time to time, on no particular schedule, to allow for good group conversation and possibly, programs related to the community, new ideas or personal and business development, according to its closed-group Facebook page.
The page also says members will look to remain apolitical and bury any old hatchets, recognizing that the group needs to work together to create a better future; find synergies within the community and uncover opportunities that might not be recognizable at the moment and share articles and thoughts that pertain to personal, cultural and business development.
The main objective is to create a common forum for people who have the potential and desire to create positive change in the community.
While the forum was all positive Tuesday night, at the next meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 14 at Jones Café on Main in Hamlet, the group will discuss all the negative aspects of Richmond County. Kelly said it’s a way to see the whole picture and not just the glamour about what’s great.
“It feels good tonight,” she said. “The next one we’re gonna tear off the Band-Aids and talk about things we don’t like about Richmond County.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674, follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson and listen to him at 12:10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on G-104.3 FM.