Communication, business called out in Story assessment

STORY — More than 100 people converged on the Story Women’s Club Tuesday evening to hear the preliminary results of a comprehensive assessment aimed at bettering the Story community.

Bernie Spielman, board member of the nonprofit Story Community Fund, said the two-day process of public meetings hosted this week by the Wyoming Rural Development Council drew participation from large segments of the Story community.

“There were so many great ideas I can’t even think of all of them,” Spielman said.

A provider of in-depth analyses of small towns and their potential for improvement, the Wyoming Rural Development Council came to Story to collect feedback from residents on the state of their community.

Seven representatives came to Story for the two-day process and have now begun compiling a final report that Spielman said will be finalized sometime in July or August.

In that document, authors will aggregate feedback from the assessment phase with specific grant opportunities residents might pursue.

Spielman said groups including the Story Community Fund and other local organizations will then decide how best to proceed.
During the roughly 10 meetings held over the two days, organizers asked residents about Story’s opportunities for improvement, existing strengths and specific ideas for large-scale projects.
On the improvement front, people lamented a lack of communication between residents. Spielman said that while several community groups already organize communication initiatives, some residents are left without much of an idea of what’s happening in the community.

“If you don’t belong to those clubs, you’re out of the loop,” he said.

Additionally, residents voiced hope for a more stable business community.

As for community strengths, residents cited the area’s natural surroundings and proximity to outdoor recreation opportunities.
Still, they pointed to a desire for a community center, improved child care services, a band shell, community newsletter and other potential amenities.

“There were some residents who felt there should be absolutely no change, but the majority of people thought that some change was appropriate,” Spielman said.

Story Community Fund Chairman Patrick Morgan added that most residents were highly receptive to the opportunity of locating grant money for community projects.

“We were very impressed with the participation we had,” he said.
Following the public release of the Rural Development Council’s report later this summer, representatives of the organization will return to Story in September to further discuss potential channels for realizing some of the projects.

The community assessment was organized by the Story Community Fund.
Among other projects, the SCF is also in the process of developing a pilot project to improve the existing recycling program in Story in addition to working with county officials to better prepare the community for the upcoming wildfire season.

The organization recently raised about $25,000 to purchase updated equipment — including new bunker gear, a high-pressure water cannon and an industrial strength washer and dryer — for the local volunteer fire department.

An all-volunteer effort, the Story Community Fund advisory board is comprised of 10 members who are also landowners in Story.
 The organization depends on private donors to help fund its efforts.

About

Paolo Cisneros

Paolo Cisneros joined The Sheridan Press staff in August 2012. He covers business, energy and public safety. A Chicago native, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011.

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