It was good news that the budget and implementation plan for the Rocky Fork Lake Area Safety and Advancement Project (RFL-ASAP) project has been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.
As we have reported, RFL-ASAP learned last October that it had been awarded the grant from the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to tackle issues at the lake, but its budget and implementation plan had to be approved before the project could begin. The award was the result of more than 18 months of planning by county stakeholders in partnership with Ohio University, beginning with several meetings involving around 60 local officials, business owners and community leaders. The grant was technically awarded to the Highland County Commissioners, but commissioners have credited Winkle, who is the director of Turning Point Applied Learning Center, for leading the effort that led to the win.
The funding is designed to help communities develop comprehensive strategies that target neighborhoods with hot spots of crime and violence. Rocky Fork Lake certainly qualifies, as local residents know. While many different people and organizations have worked together over the years to address issues at the lake, this project represents the most concerted effort to tackle problems at the lake in a way that has a great chance of making a real difference.
The next step in the $800,000 project will be a large stakeholder group meeting at 10 a.m. Feb. 27 at the Hi-Tec Conference Center in Hillsboro, where steering team reports, research updates and the results of a collaborative survey will lead to a discussion of the next steps in the process. If you’re part of the stakeholder team, we encourage you to attend. If not, we look forward to reporting on the event and keeping readers informed each step of the way.