Mayor Chuck Charles will be taking it to the streets next month.
“Walk with the Mayor” will have its first installment on April 20 and Charles’ goal is three-fold: healthy lifestyle, bringing government to the streets and banding neighbors — and neighbors — together.
He has neighborhood walks scheduled for nine other Saturdays through the end of August. The personable mayor said “My forte is bringing people together. If they’re not going to come to the city building, I’ll come to them.”
Charles said he wants to meet with as many people as possible, but the ultimate goal is for neighborhoods to come together and unite.
“If we can change one neighborhood for the better, it’s worth it.”
His walks will go through several neighborhoods each week. He will be walking with his 3-year-old dog, Remington, a companion that enjoys walking more than Charles.
Since the mayor started a regular walking routine and began watching what he ate through a Fitness Pal app on his iPhone and iPad, he has dropped 50 pounds. The Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital Foundation vice president said obesity is a big issue in the area and doing whatever he can to bring awareness to the problem is a bonus.
“People ask me all the time ‘Are you losing weight? What diet are you on?’ I’m not on a diet. It’s not a quick fix but a lifestyle change. The Fitness Pal app keeps you honest. It makes you conscious of how much you’re eating.”
The first “Walk with the Mayor” will start at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Hampton Street and Ashland Avenue. Anybody interested in walking with him can meet at that time or join in at any other time during the walk, which may cover several miles. Jay and Lynn Hutchinson, who live on Hampton, will be the ambassadors for the first walk, Charles said.
“You don’t have to live in that neighborhood to walk with us,” he said. “People can come and walk on every one of these walks if they wish.”
Charles grew up on Muncy Street in the Normal neighborhood and he remembers those days fondly, including walks to the log cabin restaurant for lunch from Wade Clay Elementary. He also recalled several other mom-and-pop stores where he bought candy and comic books.
“We can’t take the old neighborhoods back to exactly what they were but you can bring back the spirit of it,” he said. “Is it ever going to be the same? No. But at least you can know your neighbor’s name. How many times do we have emergency situations where we need a neighbor’s help?”
The idea of “Walk with the Mayor” came to Charles last summer when he was making daily walks with Remington.
“I knew everybody wouldn’t come to the City Building and meet with me so I thought this was a way I could talk to them on their own turf,” he said.
Citizens can come with questions or problems for the mayor. He would also like for each neighborhood to take back ownership from what happens on the streets to cleaning up the streets, yards and common areas.
Other walks are scheduled for May 4, May 18, June 1, June 22, July 13, July 27 and Aug. 10.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.