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Thursday, December 14, 2006

UNCP reaches out to Columbus County tornado victims

In the wake of the tornado that killed eight and devastated the Riegelwood community of Columbus County, Dr. Collie Coleman, associate vice chancellor for Outreach at UNC Pembroke, joined in reaching out to leaders of the storm-devastated communities on December 2.

The workshop is part of the onging N.C. Step Program of the Rural Economic Development Center that seeks to aid the development of small, rural towns and communities. Dr. Coleman presented to the 30-member, leadership group of town and planning board members and attendees from nearby communities of Sandyfield, East Arcadia and Bolton.

Dr. Coleman gave a presentation on leadership development, focusing on effective managerial and leadership strategies and approaches.

“We arrived about two weeks after the tornado and given the devastation of that community, community leadership was still in shock from the loss of life and property,” Dr. Coleman said. “Their goal is to bring economic, educational and other opportunities to their communities, and I believe there is some real potential there.

“I was asked to attend this meeting because there is a need for high education in those communities,” Dr. Coleman added. “I felt good about the meeting, and I believe there are opportunities for UNCP to continue assisting this area in several ways.”

The theme of the workshop was “What Every Small Town Needs To Know For Smart Growth.” Other topics and presenters included:

  • “Our Roles As Elected Officials,” presented by Rob Shepherd of the League of Municipalities
  • “Using Policies and Procedures: To Grow Your Ronald Penny,” presented by Dr. Ronald Penny, chair of the Department of Public Administration at N.C. Central University 
  • “Understanding Municipal Finance” presented by Vance Holland and Sharon Edmondson of the Office of the North Carolina Treasurer

Dr. Coleman discussed issues of communications, goal setting, public management techniques and strategies for success.

Workshop participants called it a “good beginning point for more intense, specific training as to what town leaders needed in order to take advantage of help in economic development,” Dr. Coleman said.

Rural Center representative Rogers Sheats, said theworkshop helps us learn how to eat the fish and spit out the bones. It points us in following the likely path of distillation  moving from “facts or data to information to knowledge to wisdom and then to truth.”

Dr. Coleman is planning more workshops for small communities in the future.

“Our hope, is to conduct a series of similar workshops with the Rural Center in 10 - 12 such small communities,” he said. “We will shoot to get the first one off and running in February 2007.”

Dr. Coleman may be contacted at the Office of Outreach at 910.521.6801 or The Rural Economic Center may be contacted at 919.250.4314 or

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