Community Leaders Continue to Enrich Franklin County’s Quality of Life

April 27, 2016

From entertainment through live music and the arts to public education and health services, Franklin County is the perfect place to call home. The county, one with a close-knit community, is rooted in tradition, but is always welcoming new opportunities and paving a path for the future.

Throughout Franklin County, from the music hall to the hospital, you’ll find passionate community leaders striving to have a significant impact on the quality of life Franklin County offers.

Rocky Mount welcomed the Harvester Performance Center in 2014, and it quickly became known for bringing nationally known musical acts. As a result, the town is seeing visitors from Greensboro to Roanoke and setting new records for meal and lodging taxes.

“The Harvester has value,” explains Gary Jackson, general manager of the Harvester. “People are willing to spend more money to see a show at The Harvester than they would be at the Berglund Center in Roanoke because of how special the shows feel. The quality of the whole experience is worth money to people.”

Just up the street from the Harvester, the Rocky Mount Center for the Arts is expanding its educational classes to help everyone in the community, from kids to adults, understand the relationship between visual arts and society at large.

“We are starting up right now with a small group of classes,” said Aaron Stubbs, executive director for the Rocky Mount Center for the Arts. “We’re offering paint night style classes that are going to be more family-oriented, so kids can enjoy painting with their parents.”

The educational backbone of the county, the Franklin County Public School system, consists of 12 elementary schools, two middle schools and on high school, which are all accredited, is continually making progress and seeing national recognition.

“Most recently, the school system received a National Blue Ribbon award and two Title I School of Distinctions,” said Dr. W. Mark Church, superintendent for Franklin County Public Schools. “We’re also in the running for a Title I Award, which recognizes schools with higher levels of poverty.”

Also seeing consistent progress and making a significant impact on the community, is the local healthcare system.

Taking a proactive approach towards community health, Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital conducts a community health needs assessment every three years to look at the overall health of the community. To combat the key issues identified through the assessment, coalitions are formed to spearhead different initiatives to improve the overall health of the community.

“We’re trying to make sure we have the right complement of primary care,” explains Bill Jacobsen, vice president of Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital. “We can get people the specialty care they need, either here or, if we can’t support a specific specialty, we try to get them connected in Roanoke.”

“I’ve worked in healthcare since 1981 and have never worked with a greater group of people,” adds Jacobsen, about working with the employees at the hospital. “We have the lowest turnover of any hospital in our system and one of the lowest in the nation. People stay here, and they love serving our community.”