To: Daniel Parker, MSP, GAL
From: Herman Hale, RN
Subject: Update - West Ocala Neighborhood PACE EH Project.
Marion County Health Department's PACE-EH program, held a community meeting, on July 31, to discuss the results of air quality testing obtained from the neighborhood of West Ocala. While community representation was low, the positive media coverage, support from attending City officials, and the opportunity to continue a PACE-EH dialogue in this community, created an overall positive outcome to the meeting.
In talking with the community attendees, it was clear that the information shared at the meeting would be disseminated to other community groups and individuals; as one attendee expressed to the forum participants, she was there to gather information. After being informed of the test results (which showed no significant findings), a representative from Renew Ocala presented information related to the Brownfields Assessments. These assessments allow citizens to assess the environmental status of business properties, such as, service stations or dry cleaners and allow the owner or potential buyer to obtain information related to the environmental condition of the property. The program ended with a question and answer period, where members of the Marion County Health Department's PACE-EH team addressed questions and or comments from the attendees.
While the meeting provided a platform for continuing the current PACE-EH Project in West Ocala, it was a conversation between one of the community representatives and the Marion County PACE-EH Coordinator, which has defined a new direction for this project. During an intense conversation, which occurred via telephone a few days after the meeting, this citizen shared her opinion about the PACE-EH process and her concerns about her neighborhood. Her views were shaped by a historical perspective of the interactions between this community and governmental representatives (of which the PACE-EH team is included), which in her view have made promises they did not keep. What stood out most in this individual's comments was a total misunderstanding of the supportive nature of the PACE-EH process. This citizen had been a long standing member of the original CEHA team and was well versed in the 13 Tasks of the PACE methodology, but, it was her understanding of the communities leadership role, which was most telling. While the PACE-EH process allows communities to take ownership of their environment, the community must provide leadership to represent its interests in the process. While this individual's understanding of the mechanics of the PACE-EH process may be sound, her understanding of the overall philosophy speaks to a more pressing problem, which is community stakeholders are a vital part of this process and without their understanding and support, communities such as West Ocala will not reap the full benefit of the PACE-EH process.
In an attempt to address this misunderstanding, the Marion County Health Department's PACE-EH team will cultivate new leadership and support within the community. In the initial phase of the plan, the PACE-EH Coordinator will make personal contact with each church in West Ocala. These contacts will serve as a forum to share information about the community's role in the process, while at the same time, identify new community leaders, which will enhance the project. The next phase entails holding separate educational meetings for the newly identified leaders. This will allow the community to understand the original PACE-EH assessment of their neighborhood and allow them to formulate an action plan for continuing the process. Lastly, this new community leadership will then decide how to disseminate their plan to the community at large.
The West Ocala Neighborhood PACE-EH project will continue its efforts to impact the environmental health of this community. Much was learned from the community meeting and subsequent conversations, and those lessons will help carry this project forward. If this process is truly a community based venture, that allows neighborhood ownership of neighborhood concerns, then the need for neighborhood leadership is imperative for its success and our team PACE team accepts the challenge of developing this new leadership.
Past Marion County Updates
Media Coverage (.pdf files)
August 1, 2006 - Royal Oak fined for violations
May 20, 2006 - Unlikely Rebels Defeat Gritty Plant
May 19, 2006 - Company Remains Silent
May 19, 2006 - Air of Suspicion
February 21, 2006 - Pollution concerns Royal Oak neighbors
January 25, 2006 - Ocala to fund charcoal plant emission tests
January 21, 2006 - Royal Oak says no to pollution inspection
January 13, 2006 - Ocala may inspect Royal Oak site
January 5, 2006 - Marion County PACE EH Project Wins Walter Driggers Award
January 3, 2006 - Editorial: Once they are heard, they roar
December 31, 2005 - Soot sleuths: Volunteers monitor industrial plant emissions
August 24, 2005 - Coat of charcoal: Residents concerned with soot from Royal Oak
April 10, 2005 - Unkempt properties, pollution cited in west Ocala survey
August 1, 2004 - West Ocala's health to get a close look