SAFE, Sylacauga Promise plan block party during Marble Fest in April
by MARK LEDBETTER
SYLACAUGA — Members of Sylacauga Promise and Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement have met to discuss plans for a block party to be held April 13 during Sylacauga’s Marble Fest.

SAFE Director Margaret Morton said the two groups are going to join forces to promote the city of Sylacauga.

“We want to join forces as we grow, gain momentum, to advance Sylacauga,” Morton said. “We need to get the word out that Sylacauga is a wonderful place to live, play, worship, and do business.”

“There has been a real interest on part of the business community to create a downtown block party,” Morton said.

Rather than have two separate events, the two groups will focus upon having a block party that will feature vendors, activities for children and special guest and “home town hero,” Troy Jones.

Jones is a successful songwriter for Carnival Music in Nashville and performers including George Strait, Alan Jackson, Billy Currington, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Jake Owens have recorded his songs.

Jone’s hit “People are Crazy,” received a Grammy nomination in 2009 and was nominated by both the CMA (Country Music Association) and ACM (Academy of Country Music) for Song of the Year.

Morton said the event will “celebrate our youth” and focus upon youth events.

To help promote Sylacauga as part of the Nation’s “100 Best Communities for Young People,” Morton said Chamber of Commerce Director Carol Bates is looking into purchasing flags to promote “100 Best” to be distributed in strategic locations throughout city.

Morton also said merchants in town were requesting stickers promoting the city to place on their customers’ bags.

The block party will be followed by a Sylacauga Education Foundation event at Harvey’s on Noble. The event will feature jazz performer Eric Essix.

Morton announced another meeting will convene Feb. 13 at the Hickory Street Café at Coosa Valley Medical Center to continue planning for the block party.

“We want to move forward on developing a plan and assign responsibility for the block party,” Morton said.

Morton shifted interest away from the block party to emphasize the work of Alabama Childhood Food Solutions directed by Jim and Linda Jones.

“Many of us involved in feeding our children in our community,” Morton said, “and it is nice to hear what has been going on in their [the Jones’] work and their working in schools.”

Jim Jones said 19,400 meals were served in 2012 and 5,700 carry out meals have been distributed to children in Sylacauga city schools, as well as B.B. Comer and Fayetteville, during January.

Jones said as funds become available the program wants to expand to include Childersburg and Sycamore.

“God is blessing as we need,” Jones said. “We give it away and there is no need for a warehouse.”

Morton said the plan was to start small and then expand. She said approximately 20 students at each school receive meals in their backpacks and will not have to go through the weekend hungry.

Morton said plans for the summer include community food stations and with assistance from Jones and The Sanctuary Church of God meals will be prepared and available in the early evening.

“This will be the first time the Sylacauga Board of Education will have the capacity to assist us in doing this very thing,” Morton said. “It will not only be kids, but also walk-ups.”

Morton said the education board will be able to assist because education will be included in the food distribution. Anyone receiving food will also receive teaching and materials regarding healthy eating.

This spring the healthy snacks program will expand to include meals. Morton said food will be distributed at Sylacauga’s First Methodist and First Presbyterian Churches.

Until The Sanctuary is able to serve, Morton said Sylacauga Housing Director will temporarily assist in the program. Eventually The Sanctuary will prepare and deliver meals to be distributed by volunteers.

Attending the meeting were representatives from Cheaha Regional Mental Health, Coosa Valley Medical Center, the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce, members of Sylacauga Promise Committee, SAFE staff, and Sylacauga Mayor Doug Murphree.

Contact Mark Ledbetter at mledbetter@dailyhome.com

© 2013