Lack of public transportation. Concerns about overhead power lines. Dust and odors from construction sites. Insufficient physical education programs for public school kids.
Those were some of the issues raised Feb. 17 during a meeting sponsored by the Riverside County Department of Public Health at the Cesar E. Chavez Public Library in Perris. About 20 residents attended the informal session to voice their concerns. The meeting marked the opening of a series of public forums throughout Riverside County intended to gauge resident concerns about a variety of public health concerns—from environmental health to nutrition to educational opportunities and challenges. When the meetings wrap up in April, the health department will compile a report and work with other agencies to address resident concerns.
“We will be taking your comments and turning them into a health-improvement plan,” said Riverside County epidemiologist Kevin Meconis. “We will prioritize those issue so they will trickle down from the county level to the neighborhood level.”
Perris City Councilman Julio Rodriguez and Public Safety Commissioner Joe Dapice attended the meeting.
“It is incredibly important that we support the efforts of the public health department as it endeavors to determine issues of concern to Perris residents,” Rodriguez said. “I am thankful that members of the public came out to provide their input. It is invaluable.”
Perris residents were asked to prioritize their main areas of concern. They chose the environment, health services, exercise, mental health and safety. Layla Gillespie said she is concerned about overhead electrical towers near her home. She is concerned about the possible dangers to her three children. She thanked the City for hosting the meeting in the Chavez Library.
“It’s good and it’s helpful,” Gillespie said. “As a concerned resident, I want to know what’s going on.”
Debra Shannon said her concerns include insufficient mass transit and a lack of physical education courses for school age children. She said she also wished more resources could be invested in addressing homelessness and mental health issues.
She too was glad she took time out to complete a survey distributed by county representatives and voice her concerns during the hour-long meeting.
“I really appreciate it,” Shannon said. “They wanted our opinion. We have a voice and it is important to share that voice.”
Councilman Rodriguez pointed out that the City is addressing physical fitness and diet through its Live Well Perris healthy eating active living campaign, which has been honored nationally, statewide and regionally. The new Metrolink station in Downtown Perris is scheduled to open later this year potentially removing thousands of cars each day from Perris Valley roads.
Resident Mary Venerable urged people to take advantage of greater access to health insurance as a way to improve their quality of life. Like other participants, she said she was glad for the opportunity to voice her concerns.
“It’s important to get the word out to people,” Venerable said.