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South Albany tackles crime and poverty

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

January 29, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - People in a south Albany neighborhood are worried about crime and poverty.

They want to work with each other and city leaders to make their neighborhood a better place to live.

"Back then it was a little different, with the crimes, but this is a lot better now," said Kawanda French, Southside resident.

Things are getting better, thanks to new management at Mt. Zion Apartments and concerned citizens like Willie Ross.

"I've got a good relationship with the police department, the commission, and I show up at ever city commission meeting," said Willie Ross, Community Activist.

He helped organized Thursday's community meeting to address concerns about crime and let neighbors know what kind of help is available.

"It's not where you live it's how you live there," said Darlene VanPelt, Mt. Zion Gardens Manager

VanPelt is the new manager here.

She tries to ensure residents have a nice and safe neighborhood.

"Just because I may not have economic ability as someone else doesn't mean I don't want the same things for myself and my children," said VanPelt.

Police at the meeting walked the apartment complex with management and tried to connect with residents.

"A lot of them are afraid but we're human just like everyone else," said Cmdr. Kendra Wilson, Albany Police Department.

"I was living in Miami I'm retired from the Marine Corps and I decided to come home and make a change," said Ross.

This meeting is part of that change.

"We'd like to see the Southside and especially Mt. Zion Garden Apartments become the place that someone would want to come and live," said VanPelt.

Here they're trying to do what they can; giving residents the information and tools they need to take back their neighborhoods.

"We already took back our neighborhood there is no taking back our neighborhood, we got the neighborhood back thanks to the police department," said Ross.

Ross said former police chief James Younger did a lot to clean up the Southside.

Police said Thursday night crime in that area is down slightly.

Ross said he has gotten threats from criminals for trying to beautify the area and make it safer, but he says that won't stop him from working to give youngsters a better place to live.

Mount Zion Garden Apartments is trying to start a mentoring program for young mothers.

All the city departments at the meeting left information with residents about how they can spark other positive changes on Albany's Southside.

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