(L to R) School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow, Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson, Fayette County Library Director Christeen Snell, Director of the Chamber of Commerce Carlotta Ungaro, and Chairman of the County Board of Commissioners Eric Maxwell speak at Friday morning’s community gathering at the library. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

by Riley Hicks

“Fayette County is like a good book. It’s a story you never want to end,” moderator Gina Martin said in closing Friday morning’s gathering at the Fayette County Public Library.

“Hot off the press: Coffee, conversation, and community” brought together local leaders to talk about the direction of Fayette County, especially its new logo and plan to bring in more businesses and residents. The brand “Create Your Story” has the county working together with the cities and various groups to highlight all that Fayette has to offer.

The panel of Chairman of the County Board of Commissioners Eric Maxwell, Director of the Chamber of Commerce Carlotta Ungaro, Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson, Library Director Christeen Snell, and School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow shared how their entities help tell Fayette County’s story and how they hope to provide opportunities for others to create their own.

Fayette has grown tremendously in recent years, but has not yet met its full potential. Community leaders are striving to build on their strengths. Pinewood and its surrounding projects could be just a scratch on the surface.

“We are not a diamond in the rough, we are a nice beautiful shining diamond,” said Maxwell.

The library is also embracing the new motto by offering the public resources to grow and thrive and find their voice.

“The library is your court of entry into the lives of others and learning about stories,” Snell said. “A library is a living organism. We are constantly and consistently reproducing, changing, and getting more materials.”

Fayetteville is working with residents to find out what they are looking for in a home. They are interested in building for the future of the city, which means also reaching out to the millennials as the population ages.

“We need citizen input,” Mayor Johnson said. “With our story, we want to be a city that is reflective of the citizens’ desires.”

One of Fayette’s greatest assets, the school system won’t rest on its successes. Every child has some type of story, and it’s up to the school system to help them create it, Superintendent Barrow said. He wants to continue to teach about history but also start to teach about the future. The focus is going to lean towards what he called the four C’s: Communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.

“We can’t continue to live in the past, we have to begin to evolve and move forward,” Barrow said. “Our challenge in creating the Fayette County School District story is to honor the rich history and tradition, but also be willing to grab the new evolution.”

Fayette County is dedicated to creating opportunities for both its current and future residents. Community leaders are already taking the initiative to work towards their goal of growing in the right way. They want everyone to have a story to tell and continue writing a book that reads on for generations.

“Our county is wonderful, and we should be growing at a better rate,” said Ungaro. “We want to make sure we are doing the things we need to do to get there.”