The ways and means of reclaiming their neighborhoods from criminals, and of working with rehabilitation, was the topic of discussion at a public meeting of a “Weed and Seed” steering committee Monday evening in the cafeteria at Portsmouth High School.
The purpose of the meeting was to familiarize people who live in the targeted area of the WS programs with the goals and initiatives pushed by the program’s steering committee.
About 20 members of the steering committee were on hand along with about 30 people from the general public. Ideas and concerns were discussed freely between the two groups, including comments by committee members Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner and Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini, both on the committee.
Steerng Committee Chairman John Valentine, Ph.D, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University, encouraged participation from all residents living in neighborhoods that are included in part, or in whole, in the proposed WS target area.
“Weed and Seed is foremost a strategy that aims to prevent, control and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in designated high-crime neighborhoods across the country,” Valentine said. “There are more than 250 Weed and Seed sites across our nation ranging in size from several neighborhood blocks to several square miles, with populations ranging from 3,000 to 50,000 people.”
The targeted area of Portsmouth runs from Ninth Street north to 17th Street and from U.S. 23 east to Mabert Road. This area includes the public housing projects of Farley Square and Wayne Hills. The target area also runs south along Grandview Avenue and on into the east end of the city.
The steering committee, working through the efforts of the 14th Street Community Center, is applying for a grant to fight drug trafficking and associated crimes in the targeted neighborhood of Portsmouth.
The federal WS grants provide $1 million over five years to do what the program plan calls: “Weeding out crime and planting the seeds of community renewal.”
Each dollar of the grant must be matched by the local community, but that can come in the form of in-kind services, resources, value of public buildings, etc., without actually putting up money.
Also, after the five years are up and the $1 million spent implementing programs and taking steps to beat down crime in the targeted area, it’s up to the communities to continue the programs through funding and volunteers.
The grant money can’t be used for renovation projects.
Residents of the target area were encouraged at Monday’s steering committee meeting to fill out survey forms, ask questions, and speak out on ways to reduce crime and renew the neighborhood.
The WS program, adopted by Portsmouth leaders in October, is a community based program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice. It encourages citizens to come together to weed out crime and plant the seeds of neighborhood revival.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.