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July 30th, 2014

Remember the Newburgh Spirit Forum

Lillie Howard

The other day I ran across an article that was in the "Hudson Valley Press" on July 18th, 2012 which was written by Jennifer L. Warren which I found to be quite interesting. The article was about the Newburgh Spirit Forum which was held on July 17th and 18th 2012 and sponsored by The U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service(CRS). SPIRIT stands for Site Problem Identifying and Resolving Issues Together. On that day many issues were identified and discussed but so far I’ve not seen the serious resolving of any of them. The opening statement made by former city manager Herbeck was "we cannot go backwards; we need to go forward, and today is a chance to come together, collaborate and see what road we are going to travel." Wow! Mr. Herbeck is no longer our city manager therefore I wonder if that’s one of the major reasons why we’ve not seen any of the issues discussed implemented.

The article reads "Bringing together a room full of community leaders from all parts of the community the event attempted to identify key issues and problems plaguing the City, develop potential solutions for those concerns and work on a plan of action. Day one’s morning session focused on small group brainstorming. Participants gathered in individual classrooms, identifying major concerns. Danny Fisher, from the U.S. Department of Justice, addressed his group of about ten people. ‘Any group has agencies that affect one another; the problems require a holistic approach,’ said Fisher. ‘We are here today to not just say what is wrong, but to come up with solutions.’"

Some of the issues mentioned in this article were: abandoned buildings, sanitation, transportation, police/community relations, job creation, functional literacy, antiquated systems, racism and government accountability. The article states "Following the mentioning of each concern, its specifics were discussed. The process was not always easy, as many of the issues ran deep. ‘It is very important that we listen to the hurt, pain, and hope of what goes on here today,’ Deke Spierling of the Greater Newburgh Ministerial Association reminded his group, ‘Can we hear each other to get beyond the stereotypes?’" In this article another woman stated "there is a loss of collaboration and caring for young people, a lack of demonstration of caring; our community has changed so much, I’m in culture shock" said one woman. Another participant spoke about the inability of the police to talk to and understand the youth. Still another expressed her frustration over the cyclical, inherent nature of poverty, unemployment and hopelessness, along with the complacency of government. "At what point do we really look at how much these systems are all really helping; there is a lot of take, take, take, but no giving back," the woman stressed. By the end of that session Martin Colavito of Gateway Clinic of Catholic Charities stated: "Nothing beats a try but failure."

To all of the above the question that I have is "how many failures are we going to allow before we say "Enough Is Enough?" As of this date have any serious changes been implemented on any of these issues. I don’t think so. Truthfully, I believe that this forum was held to try to bring some calm to this community due to the Michael Lembhard police shooting which happened on March 7th, 2012. All of the rallies and outbursts at the city council meetings caused the powers that be to come up with something to try to calm things down. "One never knows, does one?"

This is Lillie’s Point of View and I’m just having my say!

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