Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2005
Source: Daily Dispatch, The (NC)
Copyright: 2005 - The Daily Dispatch.
Author: Mia Mitchell


City Manager Eric Williams received Thursday what he hopes will be 
one of several endorsements of the Vance Organization to Implement 
Community Excellence's (VOICE) plan to proceed with applying for 
federal "Weed and Seed" designation.

The Weed and Seed strategy involves weeding out violent crime, drug 
trafficking and gang activity in targeted high-crime neighborhoods 
and then seeding the area with human services, including prevention, 
intervention, treatment and neighborhood revitalization.

Williams received the nod from the Vance County Coalition Against 
Violence during its regular meeting at Gateway Community Development Center.

What Williams actually sought was the coalition's endorsement of the 
geographic area selected for the application.

Williams said VOICE is trying to get as many community endorsements 
as possible before a letter of intent is due to the Department of 
Justice Aug. 31. He will also seek endorsements from the city 
council, county commissioners, school board, chamber of commerce, 
Clean Up Henderson Committee and NAACP.

"Bringing the whole community together in this is absolutely 
essential," Williams said.

Applicants usually select the most crime-ridden neighborhood and 
include its crime statistics in the application packet. Target areas 
must have at least 3,000 residents.

The area selected wraps around the downtown, north and south mill 
areas and includes points outside the city limits. It has roughly 
5,300 people and accounts for about 40 percent of the city's serious 
crimes - rape, murder, drugs and robbery.

"We're trying to encompass the areas we think need the most help," 
Police Chief Glen Allen said, noting other areas could use help also.

Allen said the police department submitted a Weed and Seed 
application on its own in 1998, but was not successful.

"This is a very competitive thing," Allen said, adding that according 
to projections only 31 new sites will be selected this year nationwide.

A designation could mean wonders for the city but it's no guarantee, 
nor is it a quick fix.

The city is applying only for a designation, which does not bring 
up-front money but would put Henderson in the running for Weed and 
Seed as well as other federal grants. If designated, the city at best 
could hope to see some funding in 2006.

The good thing about the application process is that the city has 
nothing to lose. There are no up-front costs.

Coalition member Marolyn Rasheed attended a regional Weed and Seed 
meeting last month with several other community members.

She said Thursday that representatives she's talked to from Weed and 
Seed-designated communities say it's the best thing that's ever 
happened to them.

Coalition member Cathy Ringley called it a "no brainer," which led to 
a motion introduced by Bill Edwards and a unanimous approval.

After submitting the letter of intent, the VOICE group will 
concentrate on the full application. It is compiling census data from 
the target area.

Williams hopes to get state and national officials involved, or at 
least aware of the city's intentions. Congressman G.K. Butterfield 
has expressed a high level of interest in the city's efforts. Dolly 
Burwell, regional district director for Butterfield's Weldon office, 
has attended almost all the VOICE meetings.

There is no designated Weed and Seed community in the first 
congressional district.

The Henderson City Council and Vance County Commissioners will be 
asked for endorsements at their regular meetings Monday.
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MAP posted-by: Beth