Letters To The Editor - Keep Community Council moving forward

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What do the following have in common?

Encourage Walla Walla, Columbia and Umatilla counties to evaluate the benefits of becoming a federal Economic Development Administration district.

Educate value-added agriculture businesses about third-party certification and the potential for an associated price premium.

Support and promote the establishment of school-linked health centers.

Advocate that Valley Transit should have a stop at Department of Human Services on Dalles Military Road.

Urge each community in the region to establish a teen center with its own facilities so that it is able to operate during hours appropriate for youth use.

Explore specific needs of members who want to leave a gang, such as tattoo removal and relocation. Identify funding sources and implementation strategy.

Answer: Each is a recommendation for community action developed as a result of one of Community Council's recent studies.

By working together to research these issues and to develop and implement specific actions to address them, citizens are effectively engaging with Community Council to enhance the local quality of life. During the last three years, more than 500 people have participated in the study process, tackling issues identified as priorities by local residents -- the well-being of children, the region's economic vitality and the burgeoning gang problem.

Thanks to community interest, volunteer participation and initial funding provided by area citizens and funders, Community Council's first study and action efforts have been successful. Half of the ideas on the list above have already been accomplished -- the rest (and a number of other recommendations) are "in the works." You can visit wwcommunitycouncil.org for more details.

One of Community Council's strengths is that it is non-governmental and is not tied to any one program or even to one community. Its regional perspective enables it to work across organizational, governmental and program boundaries -- man-made boundaries that often stymie effective solutions. As a result, the Council is able to take a broad approach to problem solving -- identifying and addressing the roots of an issue, rather than treating the symptoms.

Public support is critical to maintaining Community Council's independence. We welcome individuals' contributions of time and funds to help maintain the momentum of efforts already under way and to address other important topics that affect everyone living in this region.

Thomas Sawatzki
Community Council board president
Walla Walla

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