Economic development, infrastructure improvements and school consolidation were recurring themes during a meeting of area residents Monday night to identify issues Jefferson County should address.

A steering committee tasked with creating a new vision for Jefferson County held its first community conversation to get input from the public.

ENVISION Jefferson County, a group of 31 area residents, is focusing on creating a community-developed vision plan to improve the county's quality of life.

At Monday's meeting, the community members divided into small groups to identify issues and priorities. More than 80 people participated.

The goal is to develop a vision plan that is developed and supported by the community. There will be additional opportunities to present ideas.

The next community conversation will be at 7 p.m. today at the Southwestern High School Library. The meeting is expected to take two hours. The final conversation will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Brown Gym.

Consultants Jamie Greene and Kyle May of planning NEXT will collect the information and present it at the next steering committee meeting on April 21. Rough concepts of the ideas will be presented at the meeting and the specifics will be delivered at a later date.

Among the issues identified by the participants were: family environment, better use of existing assets, children living in poverty and children living in single-parent homes, children's self esteem, substance abuse, public school consolidation, physical and mental health, a safe place for teens to gather with mentoring available, better promotion of the arts, infrastructure issues, a connector road to I-65, retaining young professionals, tapping into our imagination, global outreach, recruiting a minor league baseball team, improving public transportation, improving business and industry recruitment, creating apprenticeships for young people.

The next community meeting will be in August, when the issues will be presented and the community will have an opportunity to address them and additional ideas.

A full proposal is expected to be presented in October or November.