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Secretary of State takes civic engagement tour to Somerset

Third stop on tour

SOMERSET, Ky. (March 8, 2017) — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and local leaders in Somerset on Tuesday conducted a lengthy discussion with community members and business leaders on improving civic involvement among Kentuckians at the Center for Rural Development.

FullSizeRender (11)The discussion was part of the third stop on Grimes’ statewide tour following the release of the latest Kentucky Civic Health Index, which measures the state of engagement and civic literacy in the commonwealth through the study of several indicators. Grimes tour includes discussions with Kentuckians about formulating new strategies to get more people engaged and informed.

“If we are to build a stronger Kentucky, we have to bring more people to the table. More Kentuckians have to take an interest in how their government is operating, how their schools are performing, and the health of their communities,” Grimes said. “This report proves we must work together to restore trust and faith in the institutions that serve us, so these discussions we’re having across the commonwealth are critical.”

The index showed the commonwealth improved in national rankings in social connectedness, community engagement and voter registration since Grimes released the first report in 2012. But, it also showed that fewer than half of Kentuckians have confidence in media, a decline of more than 10 percent in three years, and fewer Kentuckians are trusting of their neighbors. Overall, Kentucky ranks 48th in the nation, ahead of only New Mexico (49th), Montana (50th) and Utah (51st), for public confidence in media.

A large part of the discussion centered on volunteerism and social connectedness. A number of local volunteer organizations were represented including Project 58:10, Over My Head, and God’s Food Pantry connecting with citizens about opportunities to volunteer.

“Find what you’re passionate about. Choose what your passion is and then find a way to go use your skills to serve,” Brenda Russell of Somerset’s God’s Food Pantry told attendees.

Lonnie Lawson and Delaney Stevens represented the Center for Rural Development on Grimes’ panel. Russell, Jim Tackett of Forward in the Fifth, and Scottie Reams, a student and former Rogers Scholar also joined the panel.

Partners on the Kentucky Civic Health Index are the Secretary of State’s office, the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility at Western Kentucky University, the National Conference on Citizenship, and the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville.