Grant funding, strategic plan to make impact in Oakman

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 11/8/17

OAKMAN — Oakman will hold a strategic planning workshop that the general public is encouraged to attend on Monday,

While the town will be encouraged …

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Grant funding, strategic plan to make impact in Oakman


OAKMAN — Oakman will hold a strategic planning workshop that the general public is encouraged to attend on Monday,

While the town will be encouraged to envision what it could be like in the future at the event, it is also celebrating new grants that are helping the community now.

The workshop will be held Monday, Nov. 13, to help community leaders in Oakman develop a strategic plan to strengthen the community in the months and years ahead. Cheryl Morgan, Emerita Director of Auburn University Urban Studio in Birmingham, will facilitate the session from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“The Walker Area Community Foundation (WACF) is underwriting Cheryl Morgan to do this in five communities,” said Paul Kennedy, the president of the community foundation. “The same process that’s starting at Oakman will also happen in Parrish, Carbon Hill, Nauvoo and Sipsey.” Schedules for the other communities are still being arranged.

Kennedy continued, “She did more than 100 small town design initiatives, so she’s got a lot of experience working in small communities like Oakman to try and help them come up with a doable vision for their downtown and what they can work on.”

The meeting will focus on strengths the town can expand on, while identifying how necessary needs can be met.

Oakman Mayor Cory Franks said he hopes another outcome of the session will be learning how to recruit new businesses to the Oakman community to energize their economy.

“It’s really to help guide us in the right direction and see what’s out there for Oakman and what would be best suited for us,” Franks said. “This is just a resource we can use that will help us find the resources that we need.”

While preparing for the strategic planning workshop, Oakman is also celebrating a $5,200 grant from the Walker Area Community Foundation to help remodel the Oakman Senior Center.

“Our senior center has not had an update or anything actually done to it since 2002,” Oakman Town Clerk Lisa Lockhart said. “This money provides us with being able to paint, and then we’re going to install new LED light fixtures.”

The Oakman mayor’s office has provided new furniture for the senior center as well.

“We’re just happy to be able to help them come up with better lighting and a little bit of a makeover so the seniors know they’re appreciated and they’ve got a nice facility to congregate in,” Kennedy said.

The town was also recently awarded a $1,000 Good Roots Grant from Alabama Power, which they have used to plant trees at entryways to the town and at the new Oakman sign downtown.

Other grants are pending that the town has applied to receive.

Kennedy said he can foresee the WACF providing assistance to Oakman in the future, and he said he’s impressed with the town’s newly sparked initiative to realize positive change in the community.

“They’re demonstrating leadership. We want to help them continue to develop that leadership in their own community,” he said. “We’re not investing as much in the senior center as we’re investing in the people of Oakman that want to make a difference. ... Just putting that welcome to Oakman sign up was genius. It gave the locals something to rally around and be proud about.”

The strategic planning meeting will be held at the Oakman Senior Center and is open to the public. The town has announced they will be serving chili and grilled cheese sandwiches to welcome everyone who wants to attend.

“I think it’s going to give them some real good short-, mid- to long-term goals, based on what they want their community to be,” Kennedy said. “There is no correct answer. It’s what the people of Oakman want.”