Cairo Residents Asked for Input


By Evie Allen
By Benjy Jeffords

CAIRO -- Cairo is looking at ways to improve its neglected neighborhoods. And it's turning to residents for help.

Development planners are looking for volunteers in a creative effort to identify problems and solutions.

The development group known as GCR, out of New Orleans, is making a simple request. They want people to take pictures of their daily lives in Cairo. The volunteers are encouraged to focus on what they like best and least about their town.
Many parts of Cairo have boarded up buildings and empty streets. A far cry from years ago.
"I remember the day when we had a Sears, a Penny's, a Montgomery Ward and six car dealerships. It was a big town," said resident Suzy Holland.
Holland grew up in Cairo and she believes the city can make a comeback. She's part of the steering committee working on a comprehensive plan to turn the town around. They've teamed up with the GCR consulting firm and they're asking residents to join in. 
"I hope that there will be a lot of community interest. I hope that people will get involved. Now is a good time to get out there and help this community heal and just see what's out there for us," says Holland.
The city's library is offering disposable cameras to those who want to take pictures around the town. The pictures will be discussed in a coming public forum.
Iris Davis plans to use her own camera to take pictures and suggest ideas for re-development
"We really need some outside people to come in and help restore some of the old buildings. They're tearing down a lot of things but we're not seeing a lot of rebuilding going on," says Davis.
Davis says there have been a few glimpses of hope here and there but everybody needs to be on board.
"If we can come together and work together, we can turn the town around but we need some help," she says.
She'd like to see recreational facilities and programs for young people
"A boys and girls club. Some place that they can have an avenue to do things in the summer time. And a summer lunch program," says Davis.
Holland says the pictures around town and input from folks like Davis will be the first step in a long process.     
"I have hope that one day we will be, hopefully, what we were at one time," she says.
The public forum will be held at Cairo High School at 7 p.m., On June 12.  People can pick up cameras between now and June 14.   
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