HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mayor Toby Barker introduced a new outreach program to the Hub City in an effort to get input from the community.
The monthly event kicked off Tuesday at T-Bones Records and Café on Hardy Street, with dozens of residents in attendance as well as multiple city directors.
"We believe that government's best when it reflects the will, attitude and values of its people," Barker said. "I think our local goal is to try and bring local government to the people and meet them where they are."
The monthly meetings will change locations around the Hub City, giving other residents easier access.
"So, we're going around to different neighborhoods, different wards and having an afternoon each month that we go and just allow people to come and talk to us," Barker said. "We're going to have a couple of directors here, we're going to have representatives from our police department here and really just to hear ideas and let them see government in action."
Hattiesburg Police Department Chief Anthony Parker and Capt. Branden McLemore both attended today's event, hoping to also gain more input from the community.
"Well basically we want to see what their concerns are, we have every branch of avenue that we can possibly take so that we can do community outreach," McLemore said.
Mayor Barker and McLemore both praised the success of Coffee with a Cop that is continuing to gain traction in the Hub City.
"Well, we saw how well Coffee with a Cop worked with our police department, and we thought it would be good to have the mayor have that same kind of forum in a very relaxed atmosphere, where somebody can come and sort of access several layers of government at one time," Barker said.
McLemore said that it allows people in the community to give input on things other than just crime, but ask questions they want answered.
"Things such as traffic problems, traffic congestion, those kinds of things we can actually help as well," McLemore said. "So it's just not particularly crimes in certain areas, its where we can actually show more of a presence and get to more community involvement."
"I find that the best ideas sometimes come from folks at the neighborhood level, because they encounter the issues, whether it's a street that needs to be paved or whether it's a water leak, they can bring you that information as opposed to going out and trying to hit every street at one time," Barker said. "To have this forum for people to come and talk to us, we think is very valuable."
Next Scheduled "Office Hours":
Thursday Nov. 2, 2017- at Southern Seafood
Tuesday Dec. 5, 2017- at Dis-n-Dem