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Published: Friday, 10/28/2005

BCR makes effort to help North Toledo

Only two community members showed up yesterday at a Toledo Board of Community Relations hearing aimed at helping a North Toledo neighborhood heal after a melee Oct. 15.

The other 14 people at the session at the West Toledo branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library were BCR members and city employees.

"I just think [people in the community] have had enough of this issue. Now they want to heal," said Juanita Greene, BCR executive director.

"We put 250 flyers out. We put out press releases. But only two people not associated with the board came."

Ms. Greene said she would continue holding the sessions, because "even if just one person comes in, that's one person we can help."

Both community members at the public hearing had insights to share about what they view as necessary to prevent such outbreaks of violence.

Craig Wescoe, 22, a University of Toledo graduate student, said police need to sit down with representatives of community youth to "get past some biases that [police] may have."

Mitch Balonek, an English teacher at Scott High School, agreed that bias is an issue, and said police need additional multicultural diversity training.

"[But] until we address the bigger issues, we can micromanage all we want without achieving much," Mr. Balonek said.

The issues are not only the lack of jobs for youth, but the need for recreational and educational programs for them, he said.

A date for the next session has not been set.

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