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Be Involved: Chamber looks into Mapping Program

We are at the end of January already in the New Year! Hard to believe, how fast the year is going. The Chamber and many other organizations are already working on projects and plans for the New Year. February is the month for fund raising Pancake Breakfasts in town. Make sure your Sunday morning is eating pancakes and sausage at some organizations event during the month of February or early March. March will be the Chamber’s annual banquet at Konz restaurant, and finalizing our Membership drive. Next thing you know, we are fully into Spring and the beginnings of lots of projects and events for all to work on as well as be involved in. The last bit of that sentence is most important, “Be involved in”. There are many opportunities for you to serve your community, in many ways. 2017 will certainly offer you that opportunity.

This past week, the Walnut Chamber entertained the idea of enrolling in the Western Illinois Mapping program. This program is basically a program introduced and directed by the university to help communities with a strategic plan for the future of the town. Gisele Hamm came to the community building last Thursday afternoon for the presentation. Gisele is the program manager for the Mapping program within Western Illinois university. The presentation consisted of explaining the program, its demands on the group assembled, costs, and what to expect from the program. Gisele explained the importance of the beginning of the program which consisted of 5 to 8 people formed as a steering committee. This committee would meet a few weeks before the actual Mapping committee gathered to lay out a session coordination.

There will be 5 sessions in 5 consecutive weeks. Session 1 – Where are we now? Session 2 - Where do we want to be? Session 3 – How do we get there? Session 4 – Making it happen! Session 5 – Making it happen, and maintaining the momentum. The final gathering would be a Town Hall Gathering to summarize the project and its findings and goals. One of the demands of the program, is the diversity of the participants. It is very much encouraged that High school and college students be a part of the committee, as well as our very valuable seasoned veterans of the town. Ryan Rosenthal made the comment that including as many people as possible from his age group should be important. These young people and their new families are the future of our town. I could not agree more. Youth and energy is a wonderful thing, it will be imperative that we include as many young people as possible to help improve and move our village into the future.

That being said, all age groups will be recruited, as well as representatives from our major employers. If you are a business owner in Walnut, and or are local long time employee of a local business, please consider being a part of this program. The need will be for a minimum of 30 to 40 committed citizens for 5 meetings. We cannot enroll in the Mapping program without a commitment from the citizens of Walnut to support and participate in this opportunity. The demand is for 5 nights, for 3 hours each evening. You can do this people!!! It's time, for us to help ourselves and show support and expectations for our village and the key organizations that will direct our town for years to come. More to come.

One of the comments that came out of the Mapping meeting, was “Walnut enjoys full employment”. Think of that. What other community big or small can make that comment. If you want a job, you can work in Walnut. If you want a future and or career, that opportunity is here in Walnut, Illinois. We can thank the employers and risk takers that choose to open the doors every day. We can thank the business leaders before us that put this town on the map in many ways. How many times do we refer to Avanti Cheese when we are asked about Walnut. Who hasn’t referred to GBH way homes, now Walnut Custom Components when describing who and what Walnut is? We are a community with a great history of success. Now we can brag about TCI and EBE as well, as great employment opportunities for our young people with valuable skills. Look at the successful construction companies that call Walnut home, not to mention all of our very successful Agricultural employers. Let’s make sure we offer the opportunity for many more success stories within our town of Walnut. When asked to participate on the Mapping program, please consider a positive answer to help with the project. Your input and ideas are valuable.

Have a great week people, thanks for your effort.

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