Annapolis' 'City Hall Comes to You' will target Hispanic community with forum next month

December 24, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson is taking his "City Hall Comes to You" program to the city's growing Hispanic community next month, the first in the series to target an ethnic group rather than a neighborhood.

The forum, scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Griscomb building in Truxton Park, is part of the series that Johnson began in February. The previous six or seven meetings have targeted communities such as Eastport and Parole.

The Hispanic population is "a growing part of Annapolis," Johnson said yesterday. "We hope to hear what the interests of the community are, what their concerns are and what their problems are."

Targeting the Hispanic community "says to us that we're being recognized as a group, a large community in Annapolis that has its questions and problems," said Nicolas Gomez, an Annapolis resident who is vice president of OHLA, the Organization of Hispanic- and Latin-Americans of Anne Arundel County.

Gomez said about 4,000 Hispanics live in Annapolis, most of them immigrants from Central America who began arriving in the 1980s looking for jobs.

Johnson said because he is focusing on an ethnic group, the meeting will be slightly different from the previous ones. In addition to city officials, representatives from social services organizations will give presentations.

January speakers include Circuit Judge Michael E. Loney, who will talk about the judicial system; Kris Powell, Director of Wellness Services at Anne Arundel Medical Center, and Joan Franklin, program manager at Maryland Children's Health Program.

City spokesman Thomas W. Roskelly said workers will hand out brochures on city services in English and Spanish.

"This is a community where our normal method of communication, which is English mass media, does not necessarily reach," Roskelly said. "We hope to learn how we can be of more service, how the services we have available can be made more accessible for the Hispanic community. We want to show that we have their interests at heart."

Buses will pick up people who want to attend the meeting from Allen Apartments off Forest Drive at 6 p.m. and 6: 20 p.m.; from the corner of Madison and West streets at 6: 35 p.m. and 6: 45 p.m.; and at the flagpole at Admiral Farragut Apartments at 6: 50 p.m. and 6: 55 p.m. The buses will take people back to those points after the meeting.

Members of the city's Hispanic population sometimes have felt "isolation because of language barriers," said Maria Casasco, president of OHLA. "But they will feel they are part of the community and that everybody belongs to the mosaic."

Pub Date: 12/24/98

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