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'We Are Lincoln'

Group putting words into action  Part 2

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[December 17, 2013]  Last Wednesday evening, the We Are Lincoln group met at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital to continue discussions on what they can do to draw attention to the good in our community, and also to identify areas where the city needs improvement. The goal of the group is to work together with city government and other entities to help create a better community.

Michael Gowin served as the moderator for the meeting and led the group through a list of wants and needs that had been compiled in November at the first meeting.

The talks began with how to go about creating a single source of information for everyone in the community. The topic of building a one-stop-shop website where anyone could find out anything they wanted to know about Lincoln continued to come back into the discussion throughout the evening.

Gowin moved the discussion forward, asking if anyone had addressed the topic of job shadowing that appeared on one of the lists. No one commented.

Gowin moved on to the list that included downtown revitalization. It was brought up that there are revitalization projects in the works.

Gowin built on that, saying that there are many things happening that folks don't know about. He said it wasn't just about what was going on in projects, but also what is going on in area civic organizations, as well as churches and other social bodies.

Patrick Doolin commented that it might be a good first step for someone to "inventory" the local organizations, find out what they do and offer information about them. Andi Hake of the chamber of commerce said the job might be easier than one would expect because the Healthy Communities Partnership is already working on a similar directory.

Jeanette Harris is a newcomer to the Lincoln community. She talked about her former community in McLean County and how the United Way was working on a central directory of all social services in the county. She thought it would be great for the Logan County community to have something like this as well. She said she would be happy to help work on something like this for Logan County.

After her comments, it was noted that the Logan County United Way is working on a 211 phone project and recently had a meeting to inform the public on this project.

Gowin moved on to the page that mentioned cultivating the arts. He asked if anyone had talked about this or done anything with it.

Kathy Vinyard said there is already a visual arts group in Lincoln. The Logan County Arts group meets at the Lincoln Art Institute. Vinyard said they have monthly art shows, and they want to do more in the community to promote the arts.

It was also mentioned that there is a creative writing group in Lincoln.

Another item on the need list was for a dog park in Lincoln. David Lanterman said that he, Brittney McLaughlin and Angela Stoltzenburg have been discussing this. He said, however, what it came down to was not just a discussion about a dog park, but rather all the green spaces in Lincoln. He said the three had discussed how the green spaces are being used and how they could be used better.

He mentioned the APEX at City Center, the community garden spaces and more. He said he thought there needed to be an inventory of all the green spaces in the city and determine how they can be better used.

Lanterman said that in addition to the three who are currently working on this, perhaps the city and the park district needed to be in these discussions as well.

In regard to the APEX, he noted that while it has been started, it needs to be moving forward.

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At the first meeting, it was mentioned that there needed to be a curbside recycling program in Lincoln. At the meeting Wednesday evening, Mitzi Rohlfs of the Joint Solid Waste Agency was on hand to review this proposal. That agency is the recycling program serving Lincoln and other locations in Logan County.

Rohlfs offered a little bit of background on why the city does not have curbside recycling at the moment. Prior to 2010, there was a curbside program with Area Disposal picking up recycling materials free of charge as part of their trash collection service in the city.

However, in 2010 the company determined that they could no longer offer the service for free and implemented a $5 monthly charge on recycling pickup. Rohlfs said more than 50 percent of the households dropped the service then, but they didn't stop recycling. The Joint Solid Waste Agency offers recycling in a variety of venues. There are large dumpsters on the city lot on North Kickapoo for paper and plastic. The agency partners with the Logan County Habitat for Humanity for electronics recycling, and glass for recycling is collected at the Logan County Fairgrounds from spring to fall, with the service stopping during the winter months.

Lanterman said he was the one who brought up the household recycling at the first meeting. He said that recycling at home was something that could be a family activity, and it would be educational for kids to get them started in the habit of recycling.

Rohlfs said she would support the change completely. Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder said that one way to possibly bring this back would be to offer a waste hauler exclusive rights in the city and in offering that exclusivity require that recycling be a part of the program.

Lanterman said that another part of the problem is that homes are not required to subscribe to a waste service. He added that if they were required, and if the fee for recycling was included in the monthly rate, more households would participate in curbside recycling.

It was also brought up that there was a need for electronics recycling and glass recycling. Rohlfs explained that those programs are already in place. The second Saturday of every month there is an electronics recycling collection at the Habitat for Humanity warehouse, and glass for recycling is collected at the fairgrounds in season. She said she provides public notices to all three local media outlets the week prior to the Saturday events.

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In Part 3 of this report, Gowin leads the group through bringing up new ideas that were not on the original list from the first meeting.

[By NILA SMITH]

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