Finding Out About Community Advisory Panels (CAPs)

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What is a community advisory panel (CAP)?

A community advisory panel is a group of volunteers–residents who reflect the community as a whole, and key managers at industrial sites such as chemical plants, power plants, and phosphate and petroleum facilities.  Companies create a CAP as a forum for open dialogue about issues of mutual interest or concern to the facilities and the communities.

Members of the panel are selected based on several criteria, including:  heir level of community involvement and their representation of major interests such as education, small business, or church.  A CAP reflects the various stakeholder groups in the community.  All panel members are equal, and consensus is the desired mode of operation. The success of a CAP depends on the commitment and participation of all of its members.

 

What kinds of activities do CAPs get involved in?

Many CAPs develop methods of reaching out to the broader community to provide information on what is happening at the plant. CAP members may participate in emergency drills, tour facilities, and provide input to companies on communication about environmental and safety issues.

 

How do member companies support the CAP?

Some of the ways the companies support the panel include:

  •  Listening to community residents and using what they learn as input in decision-making.
  •  Sharing information on company activities, safety and environmental performance and other developments that may affect the community.
  •  Providing resources for organizing and maintaining the CAP.  Covering meeting expenses and the costs of community  outreach activities.
  •  Contracting an independent, neutral group facilitator who provides overall support to the panel, including coordinating  and conducting open meetings and maintaining the continuity of the group.

 

What is expected of CAP members?

To be successful, the CAP needs members who:

  • Participate by attending meetings regularly, sharing their opinions in an open, honest manner, and keeping the commitments they make.
  •  Listen to others’ opinions and are open to new information or insight.
  •  Extend the outreach of the CAP by sharing feedback about relevant community issues with the panel, and communicating information to the community, when possible and appropriate.

 

How do members of the CAP benefit?

To CAP members, the panel–

  •  Is a way to contribute to the development of a better understanding between the community and member companies.
  •  Provides the opportunity to get questions answered and concerns addressed.
  •  Enables people to network with others who have similar interests.
  •   May involve its members in some form of community service that increases the level of emergency awareness and preparedness.
  •  Works as a civic-minded organization.

 

To the companies, the CAP–

  • Is a crucial link in their ongoing relationship with area residents.
  • Functions as a forum where company managers can learn the community’s perspective on their operations and the impact (perceived and real) of their actions on the neighborhood.
  •  Enhances communication that provides direct and specific feedback on the companies’ impact on the community.
  •  Is a reflection of community awareness, attitude and opinion of the industry.
  •  Provides opportunities for the companies to share information about safety, emergency preparedness and its stewardship role with members of the community and get feedback on how best to communicate those messages to others.

 

What does the CAP facilitator do?

The facilitator serves the CAP by:

—   Coordinating the meeting planning.

— Making sure members are notified of meetings.

— Conducting the CAP meeting.

—   Ensuring the group stays on the issue at hand and that agenda items are attended to.

—   Encouraging participation.

—   Remaining an objective, neutral party in the meeting.

—   Taking minutes of the meeting and distributing them.

— Providing continuity between meetings.

 

How many members are on the CAP?  Who are they?

The number may vary from time to time, but generally, there are about 20 community residents and company representatives.  The residents reflect a cross-section of the community.  There are teachers, principals, and students, small business owners, ministers, emergency responders and retirees just to name some of the perspectives represented. Balance is maintained by replacing or adding a person from a given segment of the community population, as needed.

Members of the CAP encourage citizens to contact them with concerns or questions related to FirstEnergy’s Bruce Mansfield Plant and Little Blue Run. A list of the Bruce Mansfield CAP members is available here.

 

For more information on the CAP

For more information on the FirstEnergy-Bruce Mansfield Plant CAP, please contact facilitator Mary A. Green at Ann Green Communications  at 1(800) 784-4343 or use the following form to submit your request by clicking here.