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MATTOON -- Community members are invited to learn about long-term planning goals for Mattoon and how they can volunteer to help with these projects during a Mattoon in Motion Town Hall meeting Thursday evening.

Informational presentations, live music, and free refreshments are on the agenda for the meeting that is scheduled for 5:30-8:30 p.m. in Bock Gym of the Mattoon Area Family YMCA, 221 N. 16th St.

The Mattoon in Motion community planning effort was initiated last fall by the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce and the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation. These two organizations obtained assistance from the MAPPING community planning program offered by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University.

"I think it's an exciting opportunity for Mattoon," MAPPING program Manager Giselle Hamm said of Thursday's meeting. "I think it's a great opportunity for people to not only hear about this exciting vision, but to also figure out what goal areas they are passionate about and what they can contribute to the project. It's really an opportunity for other people to get engaged, as well."

A cross-section of more than 80 Mattoon residents was recruited to take part in a series of community planning sessions that started last fall. The participants subsequently narrowed down their ideas to six long-term goal areas -- workforce training, economic development, tourism promotion, youth development, parks and recreation upgrades, and housing improvements.

Overviews of these six goal areas and related projects will be presented during the meeting Thursday evening. Community members who attend the meeting will then be invited to network with Mattoon in Motion participants and volunteer to help with this effort.

"People are more than welcome to get involved," said Chamber Executive Director Ed Dowd. "We would like to have their input."

As an example of a Mattoon in Motion project, Dowd said the youth development goal group wants to establish a youth council to get input from this age group on meeting the needs of youths in the community.

Dowd said some projects could be accomplished quickly while others could take years to develop, such as creating a dog park in town or extending a recreation trail south from the city limits to Lake Mattoon. He said the goal groups will continue working on their projects after Thursday's meeting and Mattoon in Motion participants will periodically meet together to report on the progress of these efforts.

"We are trying to figure out ways to keep the momentum going," Dowd said.

More information about Thursday's meeting or about Mattoon in Motion is available by calling the Chamber at 217-235-5661.


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