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TEN COMMUNITIES HONORED FOR OUTSTANDING GRASS-ROOTS MOBILIZATION

    TAMPA, Fla., May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Ten U.S. communities were named 1993 All-America Cities at an awards banquet here this evening.
    Operated since 1949 by the Denver-based National Civic League and sponsored since 1989 by The Allstate Foundation, the All-America City Award Program annually recognizes 10 communities for constructive citizen participation and collaboration of the public, private and nonprofit sectors in identifying and solving critical issues.  Ranging in population from 1,998 (Wray, Colo.) to 505,616 (Cleveland, Ohio), the 1993 All-America City honorees confronted such problems as inner-city decline, drug abuse, and access to affordable health care.
    The 1993 All-America Cities include:  Oakland, Calif.; Wray, Colo.; Delray Beach, Fla.; Wichita, Kansas; Dawson County, Neb.; Washington, N.C.; Cleveland, Ohio; Pulaski, Tenn.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Laredo, Texas.  (See summaries below of the achievements for which the 1993 All- America Cities were recognized.)
    Substantial benefits accrue to recipients of the All-America City Award, including an enhanced regional and national image and economic development due to recruitment of new businesses and residents.
    The 10 winners were selected from among 30 finalist communities named in April.  The award announcements followed two days of jury hearings, at which the 30 finalists formally presented their community projects before a panel of 12 distinguished public affairs specialists. The foreman of the All-America City Jury since 1983 has been former Hawaii Gov. William F. Quinn.  Remarking on the record applicant pool of 151 communities from which the 30 finalists were selected, Quinn stressed, "Both the 10 winners and the 20 remaining finalists deserve our recognition and respect.  The progressive spirit and grassroots activism of these 30 communities is all the more remarkable given the broad field in which they were competing."
    The 20 remaining 1993 All-America City Award Finalists include: Pasadena, Calif.; Porterville, Calif.; Redwood City, Calif,; Galesburg, Ill.; Newton, Iowa; Lindsborg, Kansas; Owensboro-Daviess County, Ken.; Bowie, Md.; Prince George's County, Md.; Jackson County, Mo.; Grand Island, Neb.; Mocksville-Davie County, N.C.; Southport, N.C.; Winston- Salem, N.C.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; East Providence, R.I.; Plano, Texas; Yakima, Wash.; and Black River Falls, Wisc.
    Noting that the 30 Finalists came from 18 states representing virtually every region of the nation, National Civic League President John Parr described the communities as "a cross-section of America -- communities large and small that have realized the advantages of pooling local and regional resources and working collaboratively."
    "As the sponsor for the fifth-consecutive year of the All-America City Award Program, The Allstate Foundation is delighted to be identified with the oldest and most respected community-recognition program in the United States," said Rita Wilson, senior vice president of the Allstate Insurance Company.  "The successful efforts of All- America Cities are an inspiration to others to do the same," Wilson said.
    Formed by the Allstate Insurance Company in 1952, The Allstate Foundation provides financial support to community economic development programs, as well as educational initiatives and auto safety efforts.
    Founded in 1894 by Theodore Roosevelt, Louis Brandeis and other turn-of-the-century Progressives, the National Civic League is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-partisan educational association dedicated to promoting informed citizen participation in the processes of representative democracy and collaboration among the public, private and nonprofit sectors to improve community life.
            1993 ALL-AMERICA CITIES (Summaries of Projects)
    -- Oakland, Calif. (Pop. 372,242)
    An integrated community with a long tradition of public participation and civic involvement among its citizens, Oakland is also a city of contrasts, with broad income disparities between its wealthiest and least prosperous residents.  Having lost a substantial proportion of its manufacturing base, Oakland also suffers from a range of urban ills.  To eliminate the nuisance of drugs and related crime from their neighborhoods, Oakland residents organized "Safe Streets Now!," a program that identifies drug houses and initiates legal action against landlords who fail or refuse to evict drug traffickers.  The health statistics of urban Native Americans are the worst for any group in the United States.  Founded by community leaders, the Native American Health Center offers medical, dental, social, family and youth services to the San Francisco Bay Area's 21,000 Native Americans, as well as members of other underserved, low-income groups.  Following the disastrous firestorm that hit the Oakland and Berkeley Hills area in October of 1991, resident associations formed a network of "Phoenix" organizations to respond to the devastation of over 2,700 homes. Initially addressing the emergency needs of displaced homeowners, neighborhood association representatives also worked with city officials to develop new building codes and design-review practices to prevent the recurrence of the 1991 disaster in this area, prone to hot, dry windstorms.
    Contact:  Judith Blair, Oakland-Sharing the Vision, 1201 Martin Luther King Way, Oakland, CA 94612; 510-238-6707.
    Oakland on winning the All-America City Award:  "Oakland's selection as the recipient of the All-America City Award justly reflects the efforts of countless individuals who continuously give of themselves to improve the quality of life of our city and meet the changing needs of a uniquely diverse citizenry."
                    -- Mayor Elihu M. Harris
    -- Wray, Colo. (Pop. 1,998)
    Located on the eastern plains of Colorado, Wray faces the common small-town problems of retaining young residents, furnishing adequate health and social services and providing meaningful job opportunities while preserving its spirit of neighborliness.  Prior to 1992, any Wray resident requiring physical rehabilitative therapy faced a three-hour drive.  The community also lacked adequate recreational facilities.  To fill these needs, a range of public and private sector partners raised the funds necessary to construct and staff the Wray Rehabilitation and Activities Center, which features rehabilitative and athletic facilities and offers fitness, crafts, tutoring and other programs.  To enhance the quality of medical services in their community, while solidifying its standing as the center for health care in the region, Wray's citizens approved a $6.5 million bond issue to fund the construction of a new, state-of-the-art hospital which will emphasize family-oriented as well as acute and specialty medicine.  Responding to rising incidence of child abuse, teen pregnancy and general disruption of the family, a consortium of human service professionals, business leaders and concerned citizens organized the Family Center Project, which offers parenting classes, counseling, advocacy, and other human services.
    Contact:  Jane Buchanan, Prairie Commitment, 437 Emerson St., Wray, CO 80758; 303-332-5832.
    Wray on winning the All-America City Award:  "The credit for this achievement goes to the citizens of our community who work so diligently to ensure that Wray will have a bright future."
                    -- Tim Wisdom, resident.
    -- Delray Beach, Fla. (Pop. 47,181)
    Concerned with downtown deterioration, racial and class tensions, public education, crime and political conflict, citizens in Delray Beach committed themselves to redirecting their community's future. Recognizing that crime and blight in one or a few neighborhoods impacts the entire city, residents, merchants, police and city officials instituted neighborhood watch, community policing and citizen patrol programs.  Physical deterioration has been reversed through a building- rehabilitation program, the construction of Habitat for Humanity homes, and volunteer, weekend "clean-ups."  Attributing the decline of their schools to county school board neglect, Delray Beach's citizens demanded new investment, the establishment of a magnet school program in an existing facility, and the location of two new schools within the city. In return, Delray Beach agreed to address issues of crime and substandard housing in the areas surrounding schools.  When the county board announced plans to close a deteriorated school complex, a citizen task force formed to find an alternative use for the site.  The result was a volunteer campaign to raise funds from a variety of public and private sources to historically renovate the complex and transform it into a culture and arts center, consisting of a theater, museum and space for arts instruction.
    Contact:  Lula Butler, director, Community Improvement, City of Delray Beach, 100 N.W. First Ave., Delray Beach, FL 33444; 407-243-1194.
   Delray Beach on winning the All-America City Award:  "This is a wonderful thing to take home to all the people who made it happen.  This is a great moment for Delray Beach."
                    -- Lula Butler, City of Delray Beach
    -- Wichita, Kan. (Pop. 304,011)
    A progressive community with a stable economy, Wichita is justifiably proud of its accomplishments.  In recent years, however, concern has grown over the spread and intensification of social problems plaguing the community's urban core.  Rising to these challenges, four public and nonprofit agencies launched a collaborative effort to shelter at-risk youth from temptations to abuse drugs and engage in gang violence.  In a "summer camp" setting, this program emphasizes awareness and constructive alternatives while building academic skills.  Another anti-drug effort -- Project Freedom -- united 750 citizens, businesses and agencies in a concerted initiative to fight drug abuse through education, law enforcement, treatment, prevention and follow-up.  To reverse a pattern of decline and deterioration in the city's District I neighborhood, a partnership of civic, religious and business groups founded the Northeast Community Restoration Project, which addresses social, educational and employment needs the blighted area.
    Contact:  Shawna Mobley, All-America City Citizen Task Force, 806 N. Main, Wichita, KS 67203; 316-262-4270.
    Wichita on winning the All-America City Award:  "This award is a wonderful re-affirmation of the dedication and commitment of our citizens to making Wichita a dynamic and exceptional city."
                    -- Mayor Elma Broadfoot
    -- Dawson County, Neb. (Pop. 19,940)
    A high water table and intricate irrigation-canal system has contributed to more agricultural production in Dawson County's 1,000 square miles than from the entire cultivated acreage of some states. Agricultural emphasis, however, means dependency on farming and the county was hard-hit by the "ag-depression" of the mid-1980s.  Faced with a population decline of 11 percent, numerous business closings and residential real estate glut, towns in the county formed the Dawson County Area Economic Development Council, which has succeeded in recruiting new businesses and training a large cadre of community leaders.  On the leading edge of environmental awareness in Nebraska, Dawson County area communities adopted Nebraska's first inter-agency agreement for solid waste management, thus diverting a huge volume of compostable and mulchable material from landfills, while reducing the number of landfills needed to service the area's waste stream.  A recently established industrial concern employing 2,200 persons attracted many newcomers to Dawson County, many of them Hispanic and Southeast Asian.  To address the needs of these newcomers and sensitize longtime residents to the need for change, the community instituted a variety of programs, including multi-cultural awareness and service centers, a homeless shelter and numerous poverty relief and human and social service agencies.
    Contact:  DeEtta Hartman, Dawson County Area Economic Development Council, P.O. Box 106, Cozad, NE 69130; 308-784-3902.
    Dawson County on winning the All-America City Award:  "This award culminates a growth process begun in the mid-1980s during the farm crisis in our county, and it opens up endless possibilities for Dawson County as we celebrate the team spirit that got us here and the spirit of cooperation that will continue to grow when we get home."
                    -- DeEtta Hartman, Dawson County Area Economic
                         Development Council
    -- Washington, N.C. (Pop. 9,075)
    Rocked by the negative publicity of a water-supply pollution scandal and a murky local murder case that made national headlines and inspired two television movies, residents of Washington were dramatically reminded that no community -- regardless of size -- is immune to turmoil.  To extend the promise of a decent, affordable homeownership to more local residents, a nonprofit community development corporation launched Project Hope which, through the cooperation of a local lender and the assistance of federal housing programs, has built 30 homes for families earnings as little as 30 percent of the county median income. Project Home is now pursuing plans for substantial additional activity in the areas of renovation and multi-unit housing construction. Distressed over the presence of carcinogenic contaminants in Washington's drinking water supply, the city entered into a multijurisdictional agreement to construct a new water purification system which will produce effluent suitable for use by a local textile industry.  To encourage greater minority participation in civic and cultural events of the Washington-based Beaufort County Arts Council (BCAC), a citizen committee spearheaded a comprehensive reformatting of the organization's programming, placing greater emphasis on black culture and artists.  African-American attendance and membership are now higher and an African-American woman currently serves as president of the BCAC.
    CONTACT:  Bobby E. Roberson, City of Washington, P.O. Box 1988, Washington, N.C. 27889; 919-975-9317.
    Washington on winning the All-America City Award:  "Crisis forced us to confront problems facing us and to take positive steps to solve those problems.  That positive approach is spilling over into other ares of concern.  We are not sitting still in Washington, N.C., hoping the problems just go away."
                    -- City Manager Ed Burchins
    -- Cleveland, Ohio (Pop. 505,616)
    Earning the label "The Comeback City," Cleveland has made great strides toward diversifying its economy, restoring the fiscal stability of city government and redeveloping its downtown.  Vowing to avert the deadly confrontations between police and citizens that occurred in a number of Cleveland neighborhoods during the 1960s and 1970s, the community launched a broadly based program to reduce crime and promote positive relationships between police and residents.  Substantially augmented since 1990, the initiative is now a model for other cities. Unprecedented in attendance and scope, Cleveland's grassroots community "summits" were begun in 1990 to identify consensual strategies for education improvement.  Designed to stem the flight of industry and middle class families, a working partnership of city agencies and community development groups targets Cleveland's inner-city neighborhoods for reinvestment and economic development.  Through the program, more than $150 million has been invested in Cleveland neighborhoods since 1990, and over 1,000 homes have been either renovated or constructed.  Signs of success:  families are now moving back to Cleveland.
    Contact:  Darlene McCoy, Mayor's Office, City of Cleveland, City Hall, Room 202, 601 Lakeside Ave, N.E., Cleveland, OH 44113; 216-241-5340.
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