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Ten communities designated 'All American Cities.'

Ten communities that improved their quality of life through citizen cooperation have been named All America Cities in the 43rd annual competition sponsored by the National Civic League and Allstate Foundation.

Eight of the winners--Kenai, Alaska; Little Rock, Ark.; Delta, Colo.; Rockford, Ill.; Kansas City-Wyandotte County, Kan.; Billings, Mont.; Jacksonville, N.C.; and Columbus, Ohio--are NLC direct member cities.

Minot, N.D. and Harlingen, Tex. were also chosen as winners from among 30 finalists after making presentations to the AAC jury and preparing community exhibits for a Civic Action Fair held June 4-6 in Charlotte, N.C.

"Each of the winners," said NLC Executive Director Don Borut, "illustrates the success that can be achieved when local leaders share ideas, learn from colleagues and peers and then apply those ideas to their own home towns.

"We congratulate the creativity shown by these communities in leading the way to more effective use of municipal resources to improve the quality of life in the nation's cities," Borut said.

Kenai highlighted three projects related to the long-term goal of preserving the values of the American family and the need to recognize the benefits each culture brings to the community: affordable housing for senior citizens, a center for domestic violence and child abuse victims and a new Bicentennial Visitors and Cultural Center.

Faced with declining population, rising health care costs and increased substance abuse, Little Rock created a unique program called "Fight Back/Insure the Children" which insures substance abuse prevention and treatment for all 26,000 public school students. (See The Weekly September 23, 1991.)

Delta transformed its deteriorating northern edge from an industrial mining area of abandoned buildings and sewer lagoons into a 305-acre commercial and recreational complex at minimal cost to its citizens.

Rockford leads the state of Illinois in recycling programs and has diverted more than 32,000 tons of refuse in less than two years. More than two-thirds of city residents recycle, and businesses, city government and volunteers work together to continually improve programs.

Through its new Stanley School, Kansas City and Wyandotte County have shown that any school can succeed when its client population works together according to a common vision.

Billings drafted a strategic planning process to restructure the area economy and design an intervention model for change. The community also drew up a plan to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions and built a new natural habitat zoological park.

Jacksonville, which sent more of its citizens to the Persian Gulf than any other U.S. community, created a Caring Community Committee to provide support, counsel and guidance to families with members in the gulf.

Working with the state, U.S. and Canadian governments and two Canadian provinces, Minot secured construction of two dams in Canada to provide flood protection to the entire Souris River Valley. The unique international agreement now protects Minot from one of its most serious threats to economic growth, repeated flooding.

Columbus won its third All America City designation for utilizating public-private-nonprofit partnerships to confront the challenges of drug abuse, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and education. Harlingen lowered its high school drop-out rate by 17 percent, increased employment by 16 percent, reduced litter and established a downtown soup kitchen staffed and funded by local churches to serve the community's homeless and low-income populations.

"These ten communities have effectively harnessed civic pride and public-private partnerships to improve economic conditions and quality of life at the local level," said league vice president Christopher T. Gates.

Other finalists, selected in late April from a record 141 applicants, were: Chandler, Ariz.; Avenal, Glendale and Monterey Park, Calif.; Honolulu; Nampa, Idaho; Bloomington and Huntingburg, Ind.; Lindsborg, Kan.; Owensboro-Daviess County, Ky.; Newton, Mass.; Columbus, Neb.; Southport, N.C.; Portland, Ore.; Pottsville and Reading, Pa.; East Providence, R.I.; Sumter, S.C.; Houston, Tex. and metropolitan Black River Falls, Wisc.

The National Civic League, which administers the competition, is a nonprofit, non-partisan educational association founded in 1894 to promote democratic values and broadly base, participatory problem solving.

The Allstate Foundation, created in 1952 by Allstate Insurance Company to provide financial suport for safety, health and human services, educational, civic and community projects and efforts, has sponsored the program since 1989.

For more information, contact the program director, Wendy Dickstein, National Civic League, 1445 Market Street, Suite 300, Denver, Colo. 80202-1728; Telephone: (303) 571-4343; FAX: (303) 571-4404.
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Author:Turner, Laura
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 15, 1992
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