Rather than have a State of the City Address, Ardmore officials have developed a new format of reaching out to the citizens. A series of two town hall meetings will take place Monday and Tuesday with the 2013 City Community Forum culminating events Thursday afternoon.
The first town hall meeting will be at the HFV Wilson Community Center and the second will be at the Ardmore Public Library. Both will start at 7 p.m. and will be free to the public. A forum will start at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Ardmore Convention Center and cost is $15. Those wishing to attend the event can RSVP the chamber through Tuesday.
Each of the events will feature a slideshow presentation by Mayor Sheryl Ellis highlighting the city's achievements and upcoming projects.
"I have really wanted, for several years, to make a change to these community meetings," Ellis said. "Since this is the first year we are holding this, attendance may be light. With every year we have this and people knowing we are doing this, it will grow."
Another change of the format is citizens will be able to approach either their elected official or city administrators or department heads to discuss issues that affect them.
"The department heads will be at different tables to answer questions and concerns," City Manager J.D. Spohn said. "The commissioners will also have a table. Amber Wilson, the emergency management coordinator, will also be there to register safe rooms and shelters."
Ellis said the number of department heads attending each town hall meeting could fluctuate because of other commitments taking place in the evening. But every department has been encouraged to send a representative so that citizen's questions and concerns can be answered.
"Mayor Ellis felt strongly there needed to more community involvement as we tried to reach out to the citizens," Spohn said. "If people miss out on one of the town hall meetings, they will have the opportunity to make another one."
Ardmore Chamber of Commerce President Mita Bates has been encouraged by the interest in the new format. The chamber was the host of the State of the City luncheon, and worked with the city to develop the community forum luncheon. Department heads will also attend the luncheon to answer questions and concerns.
"We worked cooperatively with the city to find a new format that we felt would give attendees better access to the elected officials," Bates said. "Ours is the third in the series, and following the presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to visit one-on-one with city officials. To date, the response has been very favorable. People are excited about it. We didn't know what to expect and we are very pleased with the response we have received."
Bates also commended the city's decision to offer access to residents throughout different parts to the city.
"Everyone will have access to our public officials," she said.
With the schedule nailed down and the meeting places reserved, it now falls upon the citizens to do their part and show up.
"We value the input of the citizens and we want to make every effort to make sure we are meeting their needs," Spohn said.