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Hickory council to hold workshop on racial, ethnic gaps

Hickory council to hold workshop on racial, ethnic gaps

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Hickory Mayor Hank Guess, right, speaks with Hickory NAACP President Sam Hunt after a special meeting in January in which the city council heard a presentation on racial and ethnic disparities in the city. The council will hold another meeting Tuesday to continue discussions on the topic. 

Hickory City Council will hold a public workshop Tuesday to continue discussions of racial and ethnic disparities in the city.

The meeting comes a month after the council received a report from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments showing stark economic, educational and other gaps between racial and ethnic groups in Hickory.

Taylor Dellinger, a data analyst with the council of governments who produced the report, gave a presentation on the data to the council in January.

The city asked the staff of the council of governments to compile the data following conversations with the Hickory NAACP, which publicly requested that the city explore data on inequities.

Catawba Valley Community College President Garrett Hinshaw and Wendy Johnson, director of workforce development at the Western Piedmont Council of Governments, will be speaking to the council.

Hinshaw said his presentation focuses on the K-64 program. The program is a partnership between CVCC, local government, schools and businesses aimed at preparing people of all ages to have a role in the local economy.

Johnson said she will discuss efforts overseen by the Workforce Development Board.

Sam Hunt, Hickory NAACP president, said he and other members of the organization will be present though it was not certain Friday if any members would be speaking.

“We would like to see that the council … will provide us a path that they see that we can work together to share and accomplish some change in those areas that was presented in the (January report presentation),” Hunt said regarding his expectations for the meeting.

Councilwoman Jill Patton said she expects the meeting will be an opportunity “to see the breadth and scope of what we offer our community to rectify some of the disparities” and to identify gaps.

Mayor Hank Guess said the meeting would be a forum where the different parties gather information and share ideas.

Councilman David Williams said he wanted to continue the dialogue and create momentum toward solving the problems, adding that those problems are so deeply rooted that they will take time to address.

“This is not going to be a light switch solution,” Williams said.

Kevin Griffin is the city of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.

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