Hello and welcome to my column.

I want to tell you about an exciting trip from which I recently returned. Along with fellow Ada City Council members Darrell Nemecek and Roger Cupps, I attended the 2006 Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C.

This event took place March 11-15 in our nation’s capital and was sponsored by the National League of Cities. The purpose was to bring representatives of this nation’s communities to Washington so that our voices — your voices — can be heard.

I learned a lot during my visit.

One of the most important things I learned was how similar this nation’s smaller communities really are. Each community certainly has its own unique set of challenges, but the similarities far outweigh the differences.

I am also one of two Oklahoma members of the NLC’s Small Cities Council, which was created in 1976 to ensure the interests of small communities are reflected in NLC’s policies.

It is my role to represent all of Oklahoma’s communities on this council.

The Oklahoma Municipal League appointed me to the Small Cities Council last fall and this meeting marked my first on the national level. During the meeting, I listened as unfamiliar voices reported familiar issues. It was relieving and exciting at the same time.

Although the accents varied, the message stayed the same — Congress must understand that in the federal debate on critical policy issues the voices of America’s small cities and towns must be heard. The Small Cities Council is there to make sure they don’t forget us.

The centerpiece of this year’s conference was a push to stop a proposed $1 billion cut in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, one of the most important revitalization programs available to small cities and towns.

Ada utilizes the CDBG program. The streets around the I.C.O.N. Center and the road from 32nd Street to Pontotoc Technology Center were funded with CDBG money.

The city of Ada will also seek a CDBG to help fund renewed infrastructure in the Hammond Heights and Washington Heights neighborhoods.

Other important issues discussed included housing, communications, immigration, emergency and disaster preparedness, education, water infrastructure and tax reform.

Again, it was very reassuring to learn that cities the size of Ada all around this nation have similar wants, needs and goals. It reminded me that we’re all in this together.

I hope you enjoyed this column. Be sure to check back every other week for more. To read my archived columns, visit www.adaok.com/donna_york.htm. Drop me a line at mayor@adaok.com and share your thoughts with me. I’ll keep you informed.