WILLCOX — Members of Willcox city council held a forum-style meeting with the mayor on Oct. 28 that was open to the public. During that meeting city council members brainstormed ideas for revising the Strategic Plan that was adopted March 2019.

While City Manager Caleb Blaschke indicated that the city council and mayor’s office are “still compiling the information” from the meeting, he was able to discuss two big agenda items that will be discussed moving forward.

Dial-a-van service “We’re getting a new dial-a-ride bus transportation service through a grant with ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation). So we’re putting in a new transit line here in Willcox which is going to be pretty cool. We’re going to service outside areas. Kind of like Benson does there,” Blaschke said.

“It’s a dial-a-van service. So we’ll go out and pick people up in the county areas and the city area. They’ll just dial the number and they can get picked up for a very nominal fee. The transit thing is cool, because we’ve never had that in Willcox before.”

Who benefits?“In a small town we only have 3,500 residents, probably about 10,000 residents that are in Cochise County that reside right around us in Sunnyside and Pearce and Bowie and San Simon. So we have these little areas that reside right around us and they kind of look to the city of Willcox for support, from youth support like Little League and those types of activities. We have a theater here that does first-run movies to our grocery store. So a lot of their support comes from the city of Willcox,” Blaschke said.

“It’s kind of sporadic out here, so when we have that transit system there’s a lot of low-income people. People that don’t have their own transportation methods in those little areas, so we’re actually more or less carrying the bus to support those groups outside of our community, but they’re still part of our community because they shop here. Their kids go to school here. So, we still include them as members of our community.

“The service isn’t just going to be in Willcox. It’s going to serve all those outlying areas around us as well. So, it’s going to be pretty neat,” Blaschke added.

City vehicle expenses “Then the other thing that we’re going to be kind of discussing is the Enterprise fleet management system. We’re just updating our city vehicles through basically leases and the goal is to save us money through fixing vehicles. They provide us the vehicles and we lease them from them. Then they have a model where they sell them at the peak when they can earn the most money back,” Blaschke added.

Through this alternative plan, Willcox will avoid having to buy and repair their own vehicles and save “forty to fifty thousand” dollars annually in the process.

Public concerns“If they bring up their concerns, we try to address their concerns through social media or just doing this. We have 2,500 followers and that’s with children and adults and everyone included. I think for a community of our size, having that social media presence is probably more important today than it used to be, because that’s how people get their information,” Blaschke said.

Moving forward“The Strategic Plan is being put together and then we’re going to have a community forum again; before it’s adopted, so that people can come and discuss it. Ask any questions or we can provide additional details or change it,” Blaschke added.

“We’re going to have another one here, because more ideas have been put on the ground. We’re going to have another one just so the public can see there are even small ideas.”

That forum will be Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. Prior to that forum, a city council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Both meetings will be open to the public. People will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on any agenda items.