ANDERSON, Ind. — Several minority-focused local organizations and members of the public met Thursday night and presented a 10-point plan for improving conditions for the community, particularly for minority and low-income groups.
The meeting was led by several people, including Lindsay Brown, the Rev. Anthony Harris, Bishop Bob White and Kim Townsend. But they said the meeting was meant to promote the concerns of the community at large and not their individual organizations.
Parts of the 10-point plan included education reform, economic investment in the city and Madison County, promoting programs that serve minority groups, holding politicians accountable for promises made to minorities and improving the healthcare disparity in the county.
One point of the plan was critical of The Herald Bulletin's news coverage, particularly of black leaders, and threatened a boycott of newspaper advertisers.
The meeting of about 30 at the UAW Local 663 building lasted about two hours and took input from many in attendance. The group agreed that the most important points on the list were education, health care and economic investment.
"This is just the start," Brown said. "Part of this is to arrange to meet with community leaders and offer plans for how we can fix these issues."
Anthony Malone, CEO of the Madison County Community Health Center, quoted statistics illuminating dire health care issues in the county, pointing out that the doctor-to-patient ratio in Madison County is about 1 to 2,000, compared to a national ratio of about 1 to 1,000. He said bringing doctors to the community is a paramount concern.
"If you get sick, you probably shouldn't live in Anderson," Malone said. "Because your chances of survival aren't that great."
White, Harris and others said they would like to see more diversity in the hiring of Anderson Community Schools and an improvement in mental health care and graduation rates.
"We've seen some good work done at the high school, but not elsewhere," Harris said. "Our schools don't care enough about black children, and that needs to be addressed."
Madison County Council President John Bostic, who was also in attendance, said the best way to improve economic hardships in the city and county is to spend money locally. He endorsed campaigns that would reward local entrepreneurship and keep money in the county.
William Watson, owner of The Pittt restaurant, said he encouraged people with business ideas to approach the city's economic development department, which has been helpful in getting businesses off the ground.
The group tentatively agreed to have another meeting but did not set a date.
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