Local leaders discuss ways to strengthen county

·3 min read

Aug. 5—Local leaders see improvements such as new parks and expanded child care as a way to build a stronger work force in Effingham County.

During the First Friday luncheon held by the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, community leaders and local volunteers met to discuss the future. Various representatives of Promoting a Vision for Effingham County spoke.

Courtney Yockey, president and CEO of the Effingham Regional Growth Alliance, discussed the committee's current $400,000 request for ARPA funds to go towards three programs aimed at expanding the accessibility of affordable child care in Effingham County.

"Child care services are a critical component of the workforce, and these services support all industries across the board," Yockey said.

The primary goals of these programs is to retain licensed child care centers and providers in the county, provide financial support to low-income families struggling to find affordable healthcare, and increase the efficiency and capacity of child care centers and providers through 12-hour workshops led by Child Resource and Referrals. After completing the workshops, providers will become eligible for grants.

"The intent is to support those families that are financially strained due to child care costs that result in workers leaving the work force or being unable to accept employment," Yockey said.

Work force and education team member Austin Cheney discussed the team's goals for adults and K-10 students.

Cheney and his team claim that robotics programs will allow children to learn some of the technical and scientific skills and knowledge they will use in the future as member of the county's work force.

"We're putting a strong emphasis on robotics," Cheney said.

Cheney also shared his team's goal to begin working on developing a children's museum in Effingham in the near future to help promote a STEM based education for children in the county.

Additionally, Cheney described projects aimed at adults, such as a GED mentor program meant to provide assistance for anyone who is struggling to obtain one, and help for them find work after receiving their GED. Cheney also emphasized the importance of respecting all professions because every person added to the county's work force is important.

"Nothing's gonna get done without everyone dong their role," Cheney said.

Local parks and recreation representative Jeff Speer announced that skateboarder and Beecher City native Deano Tull has already raised $110,000 for a new skate park, but Speer noted the park might require more funding. A skating competition at the park is already in the works.

Speer also announced efforts to begin working on a dog park for the county, which he believes will encourage residents to socialize more and even potentially adopt more dogs from local shelters.

Speer also announced that 300 tickets will be sold for the Fall Draw Reverse Raffle, and the grand prize will be $5,000. Tickets can be purchased for $50, and losing tickets will be entered into another raffle where two winners will each receive $250. Winners of the raffle will be selected and announced Sept. 21 at 5:30 p.m.

Promoting a Vision for Effingham County is holding a town hall meeting at the Effingham Event Center on Sept. 18 at 2:30 p.m.

Nick Taylor can be reached at nick.taylor@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 618-510-9226 or 217-347-7151 ext. 300132.