Moving Manila Forward Community meeting held
A community meeting was held Thursday evening at the Airport Center in conjunction with the Moving Manila Forward organization.
Mayor Wayne Wagner mentioned the passing of Judge Randy Carney. He said the county and Manila lost a friend in Judge Carney.
He recognized city council members, present and past, who have worked with him throughout his terms as mayor.
“We have a lot of good things happening in Manila,” Mayor Wagner said. “In the 1950s we had the first swimming pool and the first bypass project. Fifty years forward we again have a new swimming pool and a new bypass underway. We have 30 new houses under construction.”
He praised council members for their hard work for the citizens of Manila. He also commended Cliff Chitwood, with the Mississippi County Economic Development, for his work in helping to bring jobs to the county.
Mayor Wagner thanked the University of Arkansas in assisting the community.
Ray Benson, Mississippi County Extension chair, gave the background and the purpose of Moving Manila Forward.
Moving Manila Forward grew from the Manila Pilots Association asking Benson about a community development program from the UofA to help identify the needs of the airport and help with improvements.
A group met with the Breakthrough Solutions in Little Rock.
After the initial meeting it was decided, in addition to the airport, to explore ways to improve the town. An organization meeting was held and Moving Manila Forward was established.
Several local speakers included Dan Robbins, Iris Poteet and Matt Noble.
Robbins spoke about working together.
Poteet talked about making Manila visible. She also discussed the need to establish a non-profit status.
Noble spoke about a visit to Newport and the economic development there over the last 10 years.
Andrew Fleeman, who has returned to Manila, joined the group and spoke about its mission and the goals of Moving Manila Forward.
Fleeman reported on the results of a recent survey and some of the priorities of the citizens of Manila.
He talked about the two successful farmers markets sponsored by the Business Women and the two Music at the Museum events held.
“Young people want more things to do in Manila,” he said. “We want input from all of the citizens.
“The Pilots Association is working on events such as a fly-in movie night with a movie being shown on the side of hangar,” Fleeman said. “An air show is in the planning stages.”
Ryan Biles, architect with SCM Architects in Little Rock, spoke about Kickstart Lonoke.
Dr. Mark Peterson, professor at the University of Arkansas, spoke about the great start the group has.
“I see leadership commitment to the community,” he said.
He encouraged them to build on what they have.
The group divided into smaller teams which included Agriculture and Food, led by Dr. Pam Pruett with the Extension Service; Downtown Revitalization and Retail led by John Mixon with Cromwell and Associates; Economic Development, Education and Infrastructure, led by Ryan Biles with SCM Architects in Little Rock; Aviation led by Ray Benson; and Quality of Life and Place led by Tiffany Calloway.
Committees set short term and long term goals.
Present at the meeting were State Representative Johnny Rye and Senator David Wallace.