The Edmond Sun

January 13, 2012

OUR VIEW: Bright spots highlight 2011

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Last year was mostly marked with grim economic news and continued worries for the future by most individuals and businesses. However, there were several bright spots that highlighted 2011 and they are good examples why Edmond continues to weather the nation’s economic storms better than most.

For starters, we are community that takes care of its own. Thanks to the incredibly generous nature of Edmond’s residents and Edmond Sun readers, the 2011 Samaritan Fund Drive benefiting the HOPE Center of Edmond met its fundraising goal. The HOPE Center announced the annual campaign raised $161,043.73, which was just above its $160,000 goal. These funds will provide one-third of the nonprofit social agency’s budget for 2012, ensuring it can continue to offer health and wellness checks to pregnant women and their unborn children, food aid to those who have fallen upon hard times as well as funding for utility bill aid and transportation needs. All of these services are very needed even in a community as prosperous as Edmond.

We wish to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of those who donated to this worthy program.

Another bright spot in late 2011 was the announcement that Edmond’s Central Middle School was named one of the 16 Project Lead the Way model schools. This program focuses on improving science and math education in middle and high schools nationally.

Of the 16 schools chosen by a national panel, only three are middle schools, making Central’s accomplishment even more unique. Gateway to Technology teacher Chris Cunningham deserves particular kudos for helping the district implement a more hands-on approach to teaching these core subjects. It is hoped that these more intensive courses will help more students find success later in life and achieve rewarding careers in these fields.

A third program that’s garnering rave reviews is the Citylink public transportation service. This free service continues to see growth in ridership since the program was entirely revamped in 2009. A customer survey ranked driver courtesy very high and that it is much appreciated.

One of the most important aspects of the public transportation program is the increase in economic activity it generates within the city. An average of 800-1,000 passengers use the service per day, and about half of the 220 survey respondents said they utilize the buses because they do not own their own vehicle. This enables these passengers to get to work and to do basic shopping across the city, officials said.

As the city looks at how to progress with the program, one important aspect will be if the city can quantify how much passengers are spending at their various stops. This data will give the city a better idea of its return on investment. Citylink is a city-subsidized service.