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Clinton council fitting the bill

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson listens to Clinton resident and small business owner Sherryl Christie-Bierschenk during a planning meeting earlier this year concerning the community future. A meeting will be held next week concerning the establishment of a community council.  - David Welton / The Record
Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson listens to Clinton resident and small business owner Sherryl Christie-Bierschenk during a planning meeting earlier this year concerning the community future. A meeting will be held next week concerning the establishment of a community council.
— image credit: David Welton / The Record

Advocates for a unified voice in Clinton will hold a public meeting next week to further discussions about the establishment of a community council.

The meeting is being put on by the Community of Clinton organization and is scheduled to take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Clinton Community Hall at 6411 Central Avenue.

Proposed is the formation of a nonprofit group that would act as a singular and unified voice for the area’s central core and its residents, said Sherryl Christie-Bierschenk, a small-business owner and Clinton resident.

The idea is to organize the community under a single banner so it can have a say in the area’s future when it comes to decisions made by state and county government and to help provide Clinton with a sense of focus and identify.

“Lets create the community we want,” Christie-Bierschenk said. “Change is going to happen anyway so lets have a voice.”

The formation of such a group has been in the making for the past several years. Christie-Bierschenk, a former chairwoman of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, said she came to realize that Clinton often lacked a consensus or sense of direction when it came to issues of community importance.

Hoping to address the problem, she and others worked to set up a three-day conference in January called the Clinton Future Search. More than 70 people attended and together identified eight commonly shared public desires: establishment of a community council, a focus on area beautification, trails and paths, economic development, transportation issues, the construction of a community center, and needed infrastructure and utilities.

Committees for each have since been created and some have already produced results, such as the successful, first-ever Thursday market, which was held in July and August.

A One Voice committee was also formed and the group this month released a specific proposal on how community council might work. The guiding document can be read at http://communityofclinton.org.

In general, the proposal is for an advisory group, carrying no legislative or law-making powers, with 11 to 15 members. Most would be appointed by a range of Clinton organizations, from the chamber and water district to the South Whidbey Garden Club and the South Whidbey School District, to represent their interests.

A handful of members might also serve at large, according to Jack Lynch, a retired land-use consultant who served as the group’s chairman.

In large part, he said, the group would work to promote a sense of community vision and pride but also ensure that Clinton has a voice in its future, particularly when it comes to decisions made by county and state governments.

“As good as a job as (Island County Commissioner) Helen Price Johnson does, it’s not the same as having a voice of the Clinton community,” Lynch said.

Price Johnson, who attended the Clinton conference in January, said she supports the idea of residents coming together under a common voice. Working toward common goals and having a stake in your future is both admirable and important, she said.

The formation of such a group does not require the green light of the board of commissioners, but Price Johnson said she is giving the proposal her full endorsement.

“It’s a worthy idea and something I’m anxious to pursue,” she said.

According to Lynch, the meeting next week is meant to gauge support for the idea and discuss the progress of the various committees. Before a council can be formed, bylaws and articles of incorporation need to be drafted and nonprofit status secured.

The hope, he said, is to have a council in place as soon as next spring.

Community Events, April 2014

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