Community gathers to create goals, mission statement for Bellefonte Keystone Community program

The goals and mission statement of Bellefonte’s Keystone Community program are starting to take shape.

About 35 people gathered Thursday night at Bellefonte Area Middle School for the first of two meetings designed to get community input for the future of the program.

Attendees were asked to compile goals and a vision for each of the four focuses of the program — design, promotion, organization and economic restructuring. They were broken into small groups to create a more intimate and personal atmosphere to share ideas.

Keystone Community Development coordinator Vana Dainty and strategic planning facilitator Cathy Brachbill will compile the results and create the official goals and mission statement of the program at the March 20 meeting.

Brachbill said the focus of the goal-making sessions is to create more community-generated, specific objectives for the program, which is designed to give the borough opportunities for state grant funding, improvement projects and downtown revitalization. She facilitated the meeting as an outside source.

“People like to work together toward a common goal,” she said. “So we need to focus on what that goal will be, and it needs to be one that energizes and excites us.”

Dainty is working toward obtaining a Keystone Community designation through the state program, which will open the borough to additional grant opportunities.

Lifelong Bellefonte resident Holly Fritchman said her group came up with goals like filling the storefronts, continuing to embrace the historic qualities of the town and incorporating more arts into the community. She said talking about improving the town and swapping goals was a positive exercise for everyone.

“It was good hearing everybody’s vision of how they think Bellefonte would look best, and quite honestly, we were all on the same page,” she said.

Fritchman said Bellefonte officials could possibly draw more businesses to the town if they are able to put up advertisements or messages in the vacant storefronts. She added that a amphitheater in Talleyrand Park would allow for additional outdoor concerts that could draw more people to the borough.

Dainty said she was pleased with the turnout, and encouraged people to keep stay involved with the community to make it stronger. She specifically stressed the need for young people to be more involved because they are the future of the town.

And she was happy to see the eclectic mix of people Thursday, with residents from many different professions.

“I think we have all walks of life here and that’s very good,” she said.

People who didn’t attend the first meeting can still go to the second one, Dainty said. They will be given a refresher relating to the events from the first meeting.