Immigrant Advisory Committee appoints subcommittee members, works on project timeline

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SILER CITY — The Siler City Immigrant Community Advisory Committee appointed members to its five subcommittees and discussed a timeline for realizing the town’s Building Integrated Communities plan during its monthly meeting last Tuesday.

Those subcommittees include Business & Entrepreneurship, Housing and Public Transportation, Public Safety and Law Enforcement, Parks & Recreation and Youth Mental Health, and Communications and Leadership. Each subcommittee holds up to three committee members, plus a town employee specializing in that topic.

“This is the first year, so there’s a lot of learning that we have to do,” member Victoria Navarro said during Tuesday’s meeting.

All subcommittee topics derive from the town’s 44-item Building Integrated Communities action plan, which community leaders finalized in early 2019 to address immigrant residents’ needs based on information gathered during a two- to three-year community planning project.

The plan’s eight key strategic objectives include communication, housing, leadership, youth mental health, business & entrepreneurship, public safety & law enforcement, parks & recreation, and public transportation. Residents may view it in full at unc.live/3Donqpl.

According to the town’s resolution, the committee will report its initial recommendations and priorities for carrying out the BIC plan to the Siler City Board of Commissioners at the end of the year. To prepare and plan for that report, committee members agreed to meet in their subcommittees outside of their monthly meetings, meet with town department heads in their assigned areas to better understand how to apply BIC and report back to the committee at large.

“Essentially, the subcommittees become specialists in those areas in understanding how those respective departments navigate with currently and also what they’re also doing internally to help support BIC,” Chairperson Hannia Benitez told the committee.

First, however, committee members resolved to meet at least once within their assigned subcommittees before their next monthly meeting to lay out a general game plan and appoint a subcommittee chairperson.

The Immigrant Advisory Committee will meet again at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, inside the Wren Memorial Library and on Zoom.

Other committee business

• Navarro, a digital marketing specialist, proposed that the committee look into creating an Immigrant Advisory Committee Facebook page to better spread the word about their activities and meetings to interested residents, as well as solicit feedback or public input.

“I think that social media, very specifically Facebook, is gonna be very strong for our community to engage with us,” she said. “Right now, something’s that really hard, you know — we’re not really having a lot of get-togethers with big parts of our community for us to ask these questions, so I think social media is going to help a lot.”

• First launched last December, Siler City’s new official website now translates town webpages, information and even meeting agenda into Spanish, Town Clerk Jenifer Johnson told the committee last Tuesday.

The town has historically posted meeting agenda packets as PDF attachments, but Johnson has begun to copy and paste the agenda outlines directly onto the site’s committee and board webpages, allowing the site’s new feature to translate them.

“For the full agenda packet, they would still have to click the PDF link, but you know, at least they would have the agenda cover and kind of see where stuff is on the actual agenda,” Johnson told the committee. “ … So I think that works a bit better. I was pretty excited about that.”

The site’s new translation feature also offers over 100 other languages.

“There’s a couple of other tweaks of course within the subcommittees we can work and, you know, tweak around it to make it better,” Benitez said, “but it’s those baby steps that we’re taking, and I know it was very exciting when we saw that it could happen.”

Reporter Victoria Johnson can be reached at victoria@chathamnr.com.

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