Friday, June 10, 2016

Crunch Time in All-America City Competition

Crunch Time in the All-America City Competition
It was twenty years ago that Hartsville, South Carolina was named an All-America City in the National Civic League competition.  It was 20 years ago after some devastating things that happened around the community causing man who cared to do what Hartsvillians do – get involved.  Flossie Hopkins was mayor and Bill Bruton was city manager.  Lots of people who cared about the city had been doing lots of innovative things to solve problems and get jumpstarts on pressing issues.

The 2016 competition
Fast-forward to 2016. We enter this competition at the urging of Natalie Zeigler our city manager and Mel Pennington our mayor with strong support from City Council and other organizations in our city.  Hartsville is moving forward at a fast pace.  We have people who are involved in helping to create solutions to obvious problems. We have people who are involved in the daily grind of what some of us know as community building – working to make Hartsville an even better community today than yesterday and way – wayyyyyyyy better tomorrow and the next day.

Setting a high bar in community development
And that is one place the All-America City competition comes into play.  How is this dynamic, cosmopolitan small city in the Pee Dee of South Carolina doing in comparison with other growth, quality minded communities around the country.  In Hartsville we like to compete and we like to see the bar continually raised.  All-America City competition raises the bar.

Hard charging team of youth and adults
This year we have a team of nearly 25 individuals heading out to Denver, Colorado to help tell the stories of how we have been working to make our community a much better place for youth at all levels. Hartsville has recently begun a social media campaign themed #IAMHARTSVILLE to begin building visibility for this initiative that has been going on for nearly seven months with intense collaboration over the past six weeks.  The team, which includes six youth, has been practicing and rehearsing to consolidate the Hartsville story into a ten minute presentation and a ten-minute Q&A with judges.  Mary Catherine Farrell, who has been in charge of pulling this project together, says the team has been working very hard and she thinks they are ready.

Empowering youth is the 2016 theme
The overall theme of the competition is empowering youth. The Hartsville story is one of pulling together from a variety of devastating incidents to developing a wide array of successful programs helping empower youth and aid their school performance.
The Byerly Foundation aided many of the programs with seed funds and other funding. The people of Hartsville have done the work and while we already believe we live in an All-America we hope the team is successful in the competition so we have that outside validation!  Go Hartsville!

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