More than 200 juniors and seniors at Stephens County High School met with the Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow organization last month at the high school to provide the effort with their thoughts and input on the community.
“Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow” is a privately funded effort that is being done in conjunction with the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce and the Fanning Institute from the University of Georgia.
The group’s chairman is Barry Roberts.
He said that the group feels it is important to hear from young people about what they think about their community and its future.
The students were asked about their ideal vision for Toccoa and Stephens County. Then, they looked at areas such as what is going well, things to stop, and things to start if their visions are to become reality.
Roberts said the things they heard from the high schoolers fell along the same lines as what they have heard from other sectors of the community at previous input sessions in 2012 and 2013.
“They are concerned about economic development,” said Roberts. “They are concerned with jobs. They are concerned with quality of life. A lot of the things we do not think they think about as high school students, they are thinking about. They are concerned. There is a core group of young people that want to live here and want to make this community their home some day. They were very appreciative, I think, of being asked what their opinion was and they gave some good ones.”
The input from the high school students will now be put into a report and posted on the Chamber of Commerce web site to review along with input from previous community input meetings.
Roberts said getting this input is part of a dynamic process to make sure that Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow is focused on things that the community is concerned about.
“As we go along, what we are doing is tweaking and honing the overall vision,” said Roberts. “We are trying to get information to the people that we need to hear it.”
Through previous input meetings, Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow identified 12 main issues to focus efforts on. Those include things like economic development, land use, litter and blight, and education.
Roberts said he feels progress is being made.
“In those different groups, there are a lot of good things happening,” said Roberts.
He pointed to the efforts on litter and blight removal on Currahee Street in Toccoa through the Currahee Beautification Project.
“What we want to do as Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow is not get in there and do these things,” said Roberts. “What we want to do is keep everybody pointed towards a single goal and keep the motivation and keep the momentum going.”
Roberts said he is very pleased with how the Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow effort is moving along overall.
He said he hopes that it will eventually help contribute to growth in the community.