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Published: Friday, 3/18/2005

City's community relations board has new offices

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo Board of Community Relations, a city agency that monitors social justice and equal opportunity issues, has moved quietly into offices at 110 North Westwood Ave. and is trying to conduct business as usual.

The board, a chartered city organization created in 1946 to oversee the city's racial climate, moved this year from its longtime headquarters in Government Center. The loss of its secretary, because of budget cuts, was supposed to make it difficult, at best, for BCR to function in the manner it has before.

Juanita Greene, the board's executive director, said she has been able to settle into her new office with few problems and is looking forward to taking advantage of extra space BCR did not have at Government Center.

Mrs. Greene's office is near the front door of the building on Westwood, sharing space with the city's public service director and transportation division.

The seemingly odd pairing fits when one looks at the facilities and support staff at the location, said Jay Black, Mayor Jack Ford's chief of staff.

He said the move puts Mrs. Greene and one of BCR's integral members, Jimmy Gaines, the city's director of public service, under the same roof. Mr. Gaines has been a vital player in organizing the city's Martin Luther King, Jr., celebration with BCR each year, among other projects.

"I thought since they work so closely together, it made sense to put them together," Mr. Black said. "There, she would have support clerical staff and the building really has better amenities than she had here."

The training area, with terrace seating, a projection booth, and podium, is a newly furnished facility, as is a meeting room where the BCR will have some of its regular board meetings. The board will have its first board meeting at the Westwood address on June 23.

Mrs. Greene said the public has not had a problem finding the agency's new home, even though there is not a sign outside identifying the building as BCR's new location.

E-mails and other means of communication have been used to help the public find the BCR, Mrs. Greene said. She said she has received administrative help from a volunteer from United Auto Workers Local 12.

Earl Apgar, the board's chairman and principal at the Toledo Education Center, said while the situation is not ideal for him, BCR will survive and make do.

He said although Mrs. Greene has support staff at the Westwood site, she shares those services instead of having a secretary of her own. Mr. Apgar said the building has no security personnel, like Government Center.

"When Juanita has to stay late, she's often the only one there and that's concerning. Juanita's a trooper, though, and she will always make the best out of any situation," Mr. Apgar said.

He's happy with the meeting areas and feels the board could put the space to good use with its programming.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095.



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