The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

April 27, 2006

Fair Oaks’ reputation feels inflated

Afternoon visit reveals friendly faces

DANVILLE — This week, I decided to stray from my usual restaurants and leisure spots to visit one of Danville’s more infamous places: Fair Oaks.

Almost from my first day of work, people around town have warned me of the scariness of Fair Oaks and all the crime and shootings at the public housing venue. I was told to lock my car doors and not stop if I ever found myself in the neighborhood.

But when I visited Friday afternoon, I met some pretty nice folks.

It was a sunny day, and school buses were letting kids out in the complex. They walked home by themselves, unafraid, and no one was dodging bullets.

Groups of people stood outside their homes, talking with friends. Laundry was drying on clotheslines.

I saw kids outside who looked as happy as any other kids in any other neighborhood on a spring afternoon.

One little girl, Danezcha Finch, a first-grader at Meade Park Elementary School, played on her lawn, picking grass.

She has a gorgeous smile, which you can see from the photo. And, like a lot of 6-year-olds, she doesn’t say much to grown-up strangers, but she did say she likes playing with the kids who live nearby.

Her mom, Latisha, watched her while she sat on the sidewalk with her son, Tremale Turner, who’s almost 1.

Latisha’s friend, Tia Rowell, and 1-year-old son Milan Alexander, also were enjoying the nice weather.

Tia said the rumors about Fair Oaks are unfounded.

Asked if it’s a bad place to live, she shook her head and replied, “Oh, no.”

“People get the wrong impression because of the name,” she said. “It’s really what you make of it, but it’s like that anywhere you go.

“You could have a million dollars and still find trouble.”

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