Maintaining momentum

Community members participating in the Revved Up Rochelle program pose for a group photo at the end of the meeting. (Photo by Andrew Heiserman)

Revved Up Rochelle holds meeting to discuss community projects

ROCHELLE – Revved Up Rochelle held a Maintaining the Momentum meeting Wednesday night to discuss each of the group’s progress, challenges and next steps. The meeting was held at Hicks Hall, located in the basement of the Rochelle United Methodist Church, from 6 to 8 p.m., and included dinner from Ralfie’s BBQ.

Since the last Revved Up meeting held on Oct. 8, each of the six groups have come together, created an action plan to accomplish their goals and put it into action. The main goal of the meeting was for all of the groups to get together in the same room and share with each other their progress, challenges and what they have planned next.

Each of the six groups works to improve a certain area of the community. They are split up into retail and dining, child care and recreation, a thriving business sector, festivals and events, arts and culture and housing.

The groups first wrote down their project progress, next steps, challenges and needs, new members and an upcoming meeting date. Once each group had its information written down, a representative from each group stood up and shared his or her findings with the room.

Some areas the retail and dining group is focusing its efforts on are curb appeal and providing a good customer experience. The retail and dining group has also created both a list and a map of all the vacant properties within the community.

“How many times have you eaten at a restaurant because you said, that looks like a good place to eat, before you even know what the food looks like,” said Tricia Herrera, member of the retail and dining group.

While there has been a lot of progress from the groups, one reoccurring challenge they have all faced is generating more community involvement. A suggestion from Linda Lee Blaine, the program leader, to help increase participation is to be more direct when asking for residents to attend their meetings.

“Instead of sending out broad press releases and meeting announcements, try personally asking individuals to attend the meetings,” said Blaine. “Nine out of 10 people volunteer because they were directly asked.”

The groups shared many different ideas for improving the community such as cash mobs, where individuals meet on a certain day and time and spend money at one specific business to help support that business. Other ideas included a monthly email newsletter from the city, painting a new mural under the overpass and installing public art in one of the community parks.

In the coming months, Revved Up Rochelle will hold a public meeting to share its progress with the community, as well as what is coming next. The meeting was originally planned to be at Rochelle Township High School in April, but groups are attempting to move it sooner. The public meeting date and time will be announced when it is finalized.

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