From malevolent to model - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

From malevolent to model

July 24, 2003

Edison-- A drug-ridden public housing complex is now a model place to live. In a short time, manicured lawns have replaced trash heaps, and children play in the streets where gangs use to congregate.

Neighbors say they were fed up, and wanted to take their community back.

Eddie Mae Martin is doing more than keeping her front porch clean. "I feel like it's my neighborhood and my home and I'm not going to let anyone come in here and take over where I live at. I live here."

Martin has lived at Edison Village and Lane Apartments for 13 years. She has seen gangs, drugs, and crime in her neighborhood. Much has changed, and there is one reason why.

Since Jerri's been here everything's turned around and everyone's been coming together."

Jerri Walker started managing the complex two years ago. "It takes time," she says. "You don't make change overnight."

Walker evicted problem tenants, and encouraged residents to speak up when there were problems. "I wish there was some way I could say we changed over night, but it just didn't happen. I've been striving for this for two years. But you just can't give up."

Over barbecue, the residents celebrate their neighborhood. Even the police--who once came here only to make an arrest-- are here to make friends. "It makes me feel nice to see them riding around and nothing going on," Walker said. "They don't have to stop in no one's house. It's beautiful it is and I hope it continues to be like that."

It should, as long as this determined woman leads the way. Edison police used to respond to calls at the complex almost daily. Now, the police chief says any complaint is rare.

posted at 5:10PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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