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Danville City Council has reaffirmed its commitment to the three focus areas that it established a year ago. The areas are violent crime, education and growing Danville.
The decision came during a retreat held Sunday and Monday at Berry Hill Resort in Halifax County.
“City Council established these areas at a retreat held last October because they wanted to see a turnaround,” City Manager Ken Larking said Wednesday. “We have developed and implemented a number of strategies since then, but we acknowledge that we have much more work to do.”
Larking continued saying, “These three focus areas are key to making Danville a desirable place in which to live. Our current budget sets aside additional money for crime reduction initiatives, invests more money in public schools and continues projects designed to grow our city. We plan to further address these focus areas in developing our next fiscal year budget.”
During the retreat earlier this week, City Council received updates on the gang task force and the youth task force. Both task forces were formed earlier this year and have met a number of times.
Larking said the gang task force is preparing to implement the comprehensive gang model developed by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The model utilizes a three-prong approach of intervention, prevention and suppression.
“City Council has recognized that the best way to deal with gang issues is to keep them from ever happening,” Larking said. “We have to continue with suppression when necessary, but with intervention and prevention, fewer crimes occur and at-risk youth have the promise of a better, more productive life.”
The youth task force has focused its attention on reviewing existing program activities to determine if the lives of children, youth and families in the community are changing for the better. Nick Allen, community impact director at the United Way of the Greater Triangle in Raleigh, N.C., introduced the concept of “collective impact” to the group as a proven method to enhance agency collaboration and resource management.
The group has also received information on grant applications recently submitted by the gang task force and Smart Beginnings. The local team that attended the Federal Reserve Bank’s “Strong Foundations: The Economic Futures of Kids and Communities” conference this past March also shared the information learned from that conference with the group.
For education, City Council wants to maintain the strong working relationship with the Danville Public Schools Board that has blossomed this year through joint work sessions and a joint retreat.
To grow Danville, City Council wants to continue the River District Development Project, but look to expand to other areas of the city.
The retreat began 5 p.m. Sunday and ended after a full day of discussion on Monday. John Thomas, a managing partner with the consulting firm of DecideSmart, served as facilitator.