Despite the unprecedented crisis caused by COVID-19, there is no wavering for the one principle of the 7th popularly elected Hwacheon-gun (county) administration-- the principle of pursuing the happiness of the county people and the field administration'.
All policies, projects, and administration, including educational support in Hwacheon-gun, which boasts the highest level in the nation, are derived from and implemented from this one principle.The mid- to long-term plan of ‘Making Hwacheon the Best to Raise Children’ established by Hwacheon-gun was implemented as a key policy for the past eight years and took root in the local community.
Hwacheon, a place where dreams can come true
For the first time in the country, Hwacheon-gun has been paying 100% of the actual tuition for the entire school years to college students as long as their parents have lived in Hwacheon for more than 3 years, regardless of parental income or university location.
In addition, it is attracting national attention by releasing an unprecedented educational support policy that provides support for living space necessary for studying in the regions other than Hwacheon-gun one after another.
The basis of Hwacheon-gun's education support policy is the recognition that local talents should not miss the time to study for economic reasons.
Even if the bridge construction is delayed for a while, the strong will to provide educational support to students when they need it is being realized through the policy, so that students in Hwacheon can stand on an equal footing with students in urban areas.
Through this, the principle of breaking the vicious cycle leading to 'low income - low education - low income' has been reflected to the Hwacheon-gun administration policy.
Hwacheon, a comfortable place for the elderly
The essence of the welfare of the elderly in Hwacheon-gun is gratitude and appreciation for the generation that has made peace and prosperity at present.
In fact, Hwacheon-gun has devoted every year to providing essential and extensive welfare services to take care of the elderly.
A typical example is the completion of public silver housing and a silver welfare center in Hwacheon-gun with 120 households for the elderly this year.
Residents enjoy not only basic living, but also sports facilities and leisure programs in the same space.
From this month, a silver restaurant opened in the same space to provide a balanced diet.
In addition, Hwacheon-gun puts sincerity in caring for the elderly by renovating and reconstructing the Senior Citizen's Hall every year and providing full cooling and heating expenses.
Hwacheon, a place with consideration for the socially disadvantaged
Hwacheon-gun's consideration for the socially disadvantaged as well as the elderly is also reflected in the overall operation of the 7th popularly elected county administration.
The Cultural Welfare Center for the Disabled was completed at the end of last month, and anyone with disabilities in the region can enjoy reading in the Braille library to their heart's content and use the safe private bath at any time they want.
A support center for multicultural families is actively operating, and a public postpartum care center is scheduled to be built this year for pregnant women and newborns who have suffered from the inconvenience of visiting postpartum care.
In addition, private specialists in pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology, hired for women and children, are providing quality medical services at the health center.
COVID-19 crisis management and customized response
Hwacheon County's outstanding crisis management ability in the face of COVID-19 is particularly noteworthy.
At the beginning of the year, the 25-ton trout, which the county had been carrying because it could not hold the Hwacheon Trout Ice Festival, was quickly manufactured into canned food, meal kits, and semi-dried products, and sold all of them within four days of marketing. During a time of rapid spread of COVID-19, the county preemptively purchased masks and provided them to all citizens over several times.
In addition, a total of 9.5 billion won was urgently transfused for all citizens and small business owners.
Including government subsidies, a four-person household in which a small business owner is the head of the household received a maximum of 3.9 million won, the highest level in the country.
Even before the dismantling of the military base in Sanae-myeon under the Defense Reform 2.0, a plan to create a specialized industrial complex on the idle site where the army unit had left was attracting attention.
As for this project, discussions between Hwacheon County and the Ministry of National Defense have progressed to a large extent, and tangible results are expected in the near future.
Upgrading quality of life in Hwacheon
Hwacheon-gun, which has been lifted from the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, is starting to operate various cultural and sports facilities prepared in advance, raising the quality of life of its citizens.
Hwacheon-gun Culture and Sports Center, which started operating in the middle of downtown Hwacheon-eup in April, is equipped with a swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, table tennis court, and a gallery, providing health and joy to weary citizens.
Some people raised concerns about the location of the construction due to traffic congestion, but the traffic congestion they were worried about did not appear.
Rather, the geographical feature of being located in the center of the city is a great help for residents to easily access.
In fact, the Hwacheon-gun Culture and Sports Center has been making great strides since its opening, with over 30,000 visitors so far.
Not only in Hwacheon-eup, but throughout Hwacheon-gun, a large number of Sarangbang, where you can enjoy sports and culture, were set up.
A comprehensive cultural center was built in each major living area such as Hwacheon, Hanam, Saenae, and Gandong, and various facilities such as a screen golf course, fitness center, gymnasium, senior center, and study room were built one after another in Damok-ri and Bongo-ri, Sangseo-myeon.
In addition to the Hwacheon-gun Culture and Sports Center in Hwacheon-eup, an indoor swimming pool has been built in Sanae-myeon, and an in-house complex gym is being built.
In Yuchon-ri, Gandong-myeon, the construction of the Gandong Sports Complex will be completed this year, and in Hanam-myeon, a golf driving range and tennis courts, followed by a park golf course, have recently appeared.
Efforts to prepare future development engines
Now, Hwacheon-gun's eyes are on the post-COVID-19 era. Along the Bukhan River, the nation's best 18-hole park golf course has been built and operated, and an additional 18 holes will be created.
Hwacheon-gun Park Golf Course, which will have a total of 36 holes, is already attracting visitors by word of mouth among maniacs with its beautiful scenery and silky lawn management that cannot be seen in other areas.
Considering the aging population, Hwacheon-gun expects that if the park golf course is activated, it will receive a great boost in attracting tourists who stay in the four seasons.
Preparations for the Hwacheon Trout Ice Festival in 2022 have begun, and the final construction work is in full swing with the aim of launching a cruise ship on Lake Paro in September.
Above all, attention is focused on establishing a full-day care system led by local government for the first time in the country.
When the Hwacheon Community Center starts operation next year, safe childcare will be provided from immediately after school for elementary school children until their parents leave work.
The Hwacheon-type model is expected to be recorded as the first case in the country in that local governments provide large-scale care facilities outside schools and hire and operate dedicated care workers.
If Hwacheon-gun's extensive after-school program contents, various foreign language courses, and arts and physical education lectures are combined, it is expected to be possible to implement a 'full' childcare.
The principle of placing first priority on people’s happiness and the field administration
Choi Moon-soon, the mayor of Hwacheon County, has been keeping the principle of placing first priority on people’s happiness and the field administration as the basic rule for the county administration.
Mayor Choi said, “The purpose of local government is the happiness of the residents. The most necessary means for residents to run a happy business is ‘on-site administration’.
“Enforcing a policy without knowing the field is like saying that a chef has not even tasted it, but said that it has been seasoned.”
He continued, “Scholarships, monthly rent for the duration of school, and even study expenses for other regions are paid in full to college students to support their dreams. It is designed to share the burden of their parents, and support the happiness of the citizens.”
Mayor Choi said, “All policies and projects such as the nation’s highest level of educational welfare, the nation’s largest COVID-19 disaster support and mask payment, construction of public silver housing, and expansion of sports infrastructure such as park golf courses are implemented under the goal of happiness of the citizens.
“During the remaining period of my tenure since the seventh popular election, this principle will never be shaken or weakened.”