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Many Hearts One Beat Working Group Established Goals for the Betterment of Bladen

Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker welcomed the Many Hearts, One Beat working group members. The members started the meeting with prayer and a pledge to the American flag.

With the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, Cheryl Young gave a review of the August 5 meeting. She explained the group discussed ways to make Bladen County better, getting people in churches, life skills, parenting programs, and improving educational opportunities.

Dr. Amanda Lee, President of Bladen Community College, explained the college is working on improving involvement with the college’s Basic Law Enforcement Training. She said, “We are very committed to having the strongest class ever.” She added the college might have a law enforcement day.

Sheriff McVicker and Elizabethtown Police Chief, Tony Parrish spoke about other ideas for law enforcement training. Parrish suggested making a day school for law enforcement programs. McVicker added the possibility of using the Bladen County Emergency Services Training Center.

McVicker said, “We want to get people of all races, and males and females, involved in law enforcement.”

Recruitment is going on now, and the Basic Law Enforcement Training class will begin on October 8, 2020, according to Dr. Lee.

Elizabeth Blanks, with the 4-H Life Skills program, explained her training program. She works with the whole family on life skills and parenting classes. Blanks said about the parents involved in her program, “They are implementing what they are learning, and a lot of the parents have more fun than the children do in the program.”

View a video about Blanks’ program in the link below.

Bladen County Board of Commissioners Chairman Ray Britt testified he came from a background with mixed cultures with his grandparents and sharecroppers, and that’s what got him where he is today.

“We need to get young people involved,” Britt said, “In the past, people couldn’t wait to be part of the civic clubs. Civic clubs now have to beg people to be involved.”

Community leader Fletcher “Big Show”, Collins told the group, “I think we are making progress. This is making me feel like even more of a light in my community.” He spoke about meeting with Bladen County Evangelist, David Pait, for prayer services around the community.

Collins added, “I think a lot of people assume things and have preconceived notions leading to frustration and anger, but I think if this committee continues to help try and get information out there, we can make Bladen County a better place.”

Town of Elizabethtown Manager Eddie Madden gave an update on the planned gospel concert. Rev. Cameron McGill is working with other faith-based leaders to plan the show. Madden said they are working on the venue for the concert. The goal is to hold the event in October.

Ann Garrette, with the Employment Security Agency and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA program), came to the group with ideas.

The WIOA program is designed to strengthen and improve the public workforce system. The WIOA program could pay for part of the training programs offered at BCC, such as welding, truck drivers, and law enforcement programs.

Garette suggested making a video for Bladen County, which features safety, education, health, and community and ending with the statement, “We need you,” with an added call to action. She also said she would like virtual recruitment and working with the District Attorney’s office to help young adults with a “little smear on their criminal record.”

In closing, the group committed to reaching the community by making a video, planning a gospel concert, and working on improving education and training offered in Bladen County.

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