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City hears diversity task force presentation

By Jennifer Peryam - jperyam@h-ponline.com

Huntington City Council on Tuesday heard a presentation on a task force that aims to foster and support diversity in the community.

Jenna Strick and Jan Williams, Huntington Prevention Task Force members, attended the meeting to present information on the task force and upcoming programs.

Strick said the task force started in 2015 with a goal of bringing people together to discuss topics relevant to the community.

“The purpose of the community dialogues on diversity is to bring people together around topics that affect our community  – to hear thoughts and opinion from those around us,” Strick said.

Strick said 90 people attended last year’s first session. 392 people attended the dialogues in total in 2017.

During the dialogues, audience members can ask questions to a panel and turn in evaluation forms.

Last year’s attendees filled out forms on topics they would like to see addressed. Addiction seemed to be the most popular topic.

The four topics in 2017 were race; gender inequality; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender; and poverty.

Planned dialogues open to the community will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Huntington City-Township Public Library throughout the year. The first will be held on Monday, Jan. 22, on the topic of Stories of Individuals. Follow-up dialogue will take place on Monday, Jan. 29.

Other sessions include: Stories From Loved Ones of those in Recovery on April 23, with follow up dialogue April 30; Addictions and the Justice System on July 23, with follow up dialogue July 30; and Prevention, Treatment and Other Recovery Options on Oct. 22, with follow up dialogue Oct. 29.

Williams said the cycle of addiction needs to be broken and dialogue needs to be opened up about the issues.

“We have people struggling with mental health and drug addictions whether they are your constituents, neighbors or family members,” Williams said.

She said she wants those struggling to know they can come to a community where they can receive help overcoming those addictions.

Mayor Brooks Fetters said he supports the dialogues.

“People need to not just be pointed in a direction, but sometimes they need to be guided there,” Fetters said.

In a related matter, Fetters said  a drug summit will be held at the Forks of the Wabash on Jan. 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This will be a regional discussion with mayors and law enforcement officials.

Panel members will include Huntington County Sheriff Terry Stoffel and Police Chief Chad Hacker.

In other business, the council approved a voluntary annexation request for 20.67 acres of property adjacent to the Indiana Box facility site that will allow for expansion. It is on Riverfolk Drive.

The council also approved appropriating $130,000 into the landfill fund to assist with moving monitoring wells for the landfill closure.