LIMA — Issues like education, business literacy, police relations, preparation for college, employment and housing were addressed during a panel discussion with Lima community leaders Tuesday at 229 S. Main St.
Panelists were Lima Young Black Democrats President Amber Basares, former Perry Township Trustee Frank Lamar, Lima Superintendent Jill Ackerman, Lima NAACP President Ronald Fails, Heather Jordan, manager of the downtown Lima Huntington Bank branch, Rev. Doug Boquist of Lima Community Church, OSU-Lima Associate Director of Diversity Temple Patton, Lima Police Maj. Angel Cortes and Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jed Metzger.
The idea behind the panel was from Jerome O’Neal, President of Plus Management Services Inc. and the community enrichment committee.
The discussion panel is the introductory piece to “Hello Lima — A Community Perspective,” a WOHL-ABC Lima show that will address the needs of those in the Lima community who are perceived to be underrepresented.
“This is a springboard to the show, a springboard to new dialogue, a springboard to new discussions about where this community lies, where this community is going and where this community will continue to have bridges of peace as oppose to bridges of separation,” said O’Neal.
Throughout the night, questions were asked from either individuals on social media and crowd participants concerning the issues they felt were prevalent in the Lima community.
In response to a question about growth within Lima schools, Ackerman discussed how the education and wellbeing of every child was important and how her plans were to retain students to find employment in the area. She also addressed the importance of recruiting and retaining diverse teachers, which she said the school is currently working on.
To address the financial struggle for students in college, Patton discussed how students who have financial concerns or are a first-generation student can take advantage of various scholarships.
Jordan mentioned how there are programs through the bank that help pay the down payment for a house for those who cannot otherwise afford one.
Cortes discussed the importance of the police department being more reflective of the community and how the department is working towards that, but he also said there is a need for the community to step forward and apply for the vacant positions.
O’Neal plans to revisit the issues and solutions discussed during the panel Tuesday night and hold monthly meetings where the community follows up with the panelists to look at the progress made.
“It’s easy for people to say we have this program,” said O’Neal. “But we want to be able to say, ‘Hey, this is what you told us you needed and here we are.’ We need some people to make that step.”