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‘Unity In Our Community’ forum

MURFREESBORO – A month ago, a group of Hertford County school officials, businessmen, law enforcement officers, and clergy members gathered in an effort to solicit ideas on how to strengthen the stitches of society.

From that meeting, followed by another last week, Ahoskie businessman David Shields, Hertford County Schools Superintendant Michael Perry, and Ahoskie Councilman C. David Stackhouse agreed to facilitate a “Unity In Our Community” forum. That event is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12 at MurfreesboroBaptistChurch, 200 West Main Street, Murfreesboro.

A consortium of parents, politicians, students, school and college officials, college students, law enforcement, community leaders and clergy will comprise the panel, according to Stackhouse.

“All citizens of Hertford County need to come together as we tackle several important issues facing our society today,” said Stackhouse.

“We are also issuing an invitation to those who live in our neighboring counties as the problems we’re seeing in our schools and on our streets are not just confined to Hertford County. Those are problems experienced everywhere and we are making an effort to see how we can address these issues,” Stackhouse added.

Topics at Thursday’s event will include diversity, law enforcement respect for citizens and citizen’s respect for law enforcement, gangs in schools and communities, and how to be part of the solutions to the problems.

For information or transportation, call Stackhouse at 252-518-1440.

It was at a Jan. 6 meeting at the Hertford County Public Schools Central Office in Winton where the issues were initially addressed.

“The concern is the deterioration of relationships within our community,” said Dr. Perry at that meeting. “Everyone is aware of what’s occurring in our nation with the shootings of our law enforcement officers preceded by the events in Ferguson (Missouri) and New York City.

“Every now and then we talk about a storm passing over; we cannot just wait and hope that this storm passes us over,” Perry added. “We want to be proactive, put some things in place in our community to do our best to make sure a Ferguson event doesn’t happen here; to make sure that what’s happening in other places doesn’t happen here.”

Perry admitted he has a growing concern about gang activity within HCPS.

“We’ve used the term gang wannabes in the past, but when you start facing up with guns and knives, I take this seriously,” he said. “If we do not address this in a proactive way, it’s going to spill over. We believe the fabric is deteriorating, but we also believe that we can together we can stop this deterioration.”

Also on the drawing board is a series of student assemblies, featuring local enforcement and community institutions, at Hertford County High School and Middle School. There, activities could include “scared straight” types of presentations where those who have been jailed for various crimes can meet with students and share the consequences of bad behavior.

Perry also suggested those assemblies could include how to spot gang related activities. There could also be an assembly with a theme of a “father-son talk” where students can learn how to properly interact with law enforcement officers.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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