The Town of Blackville received a Municipal Achievement Award
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The Town of Blackville received a Municipal Achievement Award for its Community Action Team. Officials were presented with the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's 73rd Annual Meeting on July 20. The town won in the public service category. Thirty-three cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.

After a devastating trend of violence in 2011 in the Town of Blackville, officials and residents had had enough. The mayor and town council hosted a well-attended community forum to discuss the radical changes the town needed to thrive again. The Community Action Team - made up of residents, youth groups and government officials - formed as a result of the forum.

The team's first objective was to identify initiatives that might combat apathy and violence in Blackville. After a comprehensive community survey, the team decided to focus on developing youth and neighborhood watch programs while encouraging community events and economic development.

The team developed the Crime Buster Summer Camp for children that incorporated robotics and athletic activities as well as character development exercises. The Boy Scouts are back in Blackville, and the Blackville Youth Council now organizes a monthly movie night. Crime has dropped 10 percent since the neighborhood watch groups were formed. Fifty-five residents are now members of one of the groups.

To encourage civic engagement and economic development, the team hosts one community event per quarter.

The Taste of Blackville is a popular occasion, and residents enjoyed the first annual Music and Arts Festival. The team invites new vendors to each event in an effort to attract new businesses to town.

"The Community Action Team is more than an event-planning committee. It is the central engine for communication, development and engagement in Blackville," said Miriam Hair, executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina.

Achievement Award winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. More information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website.

The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.