published Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Bradley forum focuses on crime

IF YOU GO

What: Community forum

Topic: The growing impact of drugs, gangs and crime on families and community

Who: All Bradley County and Cleveland residents

When: 6-8 p.m. Monday

Where: Museum Center at Five Points, 200 Inman St. E., Cleveland, Tenn

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — People from all walks of life are invited to a forum to discuss the growing impact of drugs, gangs and crime on local families and the community.

The forum, set for Monday, is organized by Bradley Initiative for Church and Community.

Since it was founded 12 years ago, the initiative has held listening events that result in forums, then in active projects, including a credit union, an adult high school and a Commission on Racial Equality, among others.

Brenda Hughes, initiative founder, said Friday that the latest community listening project was January and February this year and included churches, businesses, industries, schools and others.

The result was hundreds of interviews on how people feel about their community and specific issues, she said. Interview questions ranged from affordable housing to homelessness, jobs, poverty, community growth and changes.

“We asked about what is good as well as what are the concerns,” Hughes said. “The important words are ‘the growing impact.’”

The Monday forum includes a presentation of data from the listening project by Jackie Johns, initiative vice president; Deputy Willie Espinoza of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office gang task force; Detective Andy Ratcliff of the special investigation unit of the Cleveland Police Department; and Terry Gallaher, director of the Bradley County Juvenile Court.

“But the biggest chunk of time will be for the people, for an open interaction,” Hughes said.

The forum underscores the significance of another coalition receiving a federal grant earlier this year to counter the impact of illegal drug use.

Going Respectively Against Addictive Behavior Coalition is the recipient of a National Drug Free Communities Grant. The grant’s focus is reducing prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse, said Tanya Southerland, executive director of the coalition, during a recent announcement of that award.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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