Harrison residents are invited to attend several events next week as the town takes part in a community review through a program with the Idaho Rural Partnership.

While meetings will be held throughout the week for various groups, the community session will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, and then a final meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19. Both meetings will take place at the Harrison Senior Center. The meeting Sept. 19 will include a presentation summarizing results.

The community review progress is coordinated through the Idaho Rural Partnership. Executive Director Jon Barrett said the process is available to communities with populations of fewer than 10,000. The program began back in 2000 and each year two to three communities are accepted to participate.

In March of 2018, Mr. Barrett said the city of Harrison applied for the review process and it was later accepted.

The goals of a community review, Mr. Barrett said, are to help a community “become clear about what they want to do or what they want to accomplish.”

The process begins with a survey that is sent out to residents of the city as well as those who live in close proximity.  The goal is to find out what concerns people have and what matters to them, he said.

“There’s a conversation that takes place,” Mr. Barrett said, “and the community kind of works through what they would like to see.”

In addition to the surveys, the community listening sessions also help gather information.

“When you ask enough people the same questions some of the same things start to come up,” Mr. Barrett said. “And as a third party, sometimes people are more willing to talk to us about what their concerns or ideas might be.”

Out of phase one, Mr. Barrett said his team will then prepare a report about the three major themes that people brought up. In phase two, the team will look at those items in more detail and address what options are available as well as draw up an action plan.

“In phase three, we provide a couple of our people to continue to work with the community on these items and to help them make progress in these areas,” Mr. Bennett said. “This may include helping the community go after grants or develop projects.”

Community participation varies, Mr. Barrett said, but generally people are interested and decide to take part. He said about 550 surveys were sent out and approximately 10 percent of them have come back. He says on average, however, there is a 20 percent response rate.

Mr. Barrett said the community review process was done in Fairfield in 2015. Afterwards the city reapplied for a grant they had previously been turned down for and ended up receiving it.

“Having done the community review process had much to do with the town succeeding in getting the grant,” Mr. Barrett said. “There was outside validation and through the review process we were able to document the community’s support for the project being proposed.”

People who did not receive a survey by mail are encouraged to email HCR83833@gmail.com or call 208-661-4053 to receive a copy. To be included in the results, all surveys need to be completed by September 16.

Those who are interested in taking part in the stakeholder group listening sessions for high school students; senior citizens; business owners; social service providers and faith leaders; current and former elected officials; law enforcement and first responders; and school teachers and administrators can also call the number above for dates and times. Otherwise the main listening session is Sept. 18 with the final review Sept. 19.

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