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Partnership helps restore greater South Park community

Concern for the citizens of the South Park community and neighboring areas led to the creation of the Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership earlier this year.

The group, which meets monthly on the Lamar University campus, has begun to address issues facing the community, according to Norman Bellard assistant to the president for community relations at Lamar University and chair of the partnership.

“There are many challenges facing residents of South Park but we believe that by working together we can address them,” Bellard said.

 “The area was experiencing some decline prior to hurricane’s Rita and Ike, but the devastation of those storms really accelerated the problems.”

“Our motto is: Reimagine. Rebuild. Revitalize.,” Bellard said. “It is our goal to help the people of South Park build a more prosperous future by working together to meet challenges and create opportunity.”

The partnership includes civic, business, education, social and spiritual leaders of the greater South Park neighborhoods, Bellard said. The partnership is working with city officials and elected representatives, Bellard said. “Council Member at Large W.L. Pate Jr. joined us at our last meeting and we are looking forward to working with newly elected Ward 4 council member Robin Mouton,” he said.

“We are identifying and addressing safety concerns of the area through proactive policing, appropriate lighting and greater involvement of the community,” Bellard said. Hector Flores, chief of police at Lamar University, chairs the safety and security subcommittee. Other subcommittee members are: Vicki McNeil, vice president for student engagement, LU; Albert Moore, assistant pastor, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church; Avontae Griffith, president of “Man Up”; Jim Wilson, principal, Pietzsch MacArthur Elementary School; Daniel C. Wright, vice president for academic affairs, LIT; Jim Clay, captain, criminal investigation division, Beaumont PD; Nihith Mandava, engineering graduate student, South Park resident; and William Harn, dean, College of Graduate Studies, LU.

“As we address the immediate concerns, we are also setting longer-range goals that include bringing more businesses into the area, supporting redevelopment of housing and job training,” he said.

“All levels of education is vital to the future of our communities,” Bellard said. “Thankfully, we have a strong partnership with BISD that continues through the vocational and technical training of Lamar Institute of Technology all the way through university-level education at LU.”

“To ’Reimagine’ is both inspirational and aspirational,” he said. “We believe that those who are part of the greater South Park neighborhoods can reimagine their neighborhoods as vibrant, growing and dynamic communities in which to live, work and play. We also want people who live outside these areas to support positive change as they reimagine these communities.”

Engaging the community in the effort is essential to success, Bellard said. Brian Sattler, director of public relations for LU chairs the community engagement subcommittee and is joined by: Lenny Caballero, event facilities director, City of Beaumont; Ann Seastrunk, South Park resident; Michelle Babineaux, owner, Babs Carpet; Candye Anderson, regional administrator, Legacy Community Health Services; Norman Bellard, special assistant to the president for community relations, LU; P.J. Couch, assistant professor, LU, South Park resident; Sharon Brown-Hendrix, principal, South Park Middle School; David Garrett, associate director recreational sports, LU; and Kennedy Andrews, senior pastor, Harvest for Lost Souls Outreach Ministry.

Rebuilding is a key component of the effort, Bellard said, that includes infrastructure, renovation and new construction. Christopher Boone, community development director of the City of Beaumont, chairs the infrastructure subcommittee. Joining him are: David Thompson, Market Basket; Delia Giglio, Public Health, City of Beaumont; Diane Thibodeaux, assistant vice president for procurement services, LU; Felicia Young, executive director, Jehovah Jireh; Joyce Tanner, code enforcement manager, City of Beaumont; Olayinka Jenmy, LU Residence Life; Traci McAnally, code enforcement, City of Beaumont; and Wayne Wells, principal, Charlton Pollard Elementary.

“It will take everyone working together to realize successes,” Bellard said. “And by sharing our successes we can inspire others.” Brian Garcia, contributions coordinator in public affairs at Entergy, chairs the networking and communications subcommittee. Joining him are: Twila Baker, associate vice president for finance, LU; Jason Smith, dean of student services, LIT; John Adolph, senior pastor, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church; Ron Jackson, principal, Central High School; Lee Dula, public and government affairs manager, ExxonMobil; Roberto Flores Sr., League of United Latin American Citizens; Anika Wiley, unit director, H-E-B; and Keith Brenek, chief executive officer, Education First FCU.

“Our ultimate goal is a safe, dynamic, progressive, healthy community,” Bellard said. “A community residents are proud to call their home.”

For more information on the Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership, visit Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership on Facebook, or contact Norman Bellard at (409) 880-7721.