The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 18, 2013

Youths, violence top talk at meeting


DANVILLE — There’s been too many shootings lately and some local pastors and others want to know what can be done to rid the community of the problems.

New Life Church of Faith Pastor Thomas Miller told city council members Tuesday night there are concerns in the community about youth, specifically teens, having access to guns.

“It seems easy to have one if you want one,” Miller said.

A group has met with Mayor Scott Eisenhauer and other city officials. They also have asked whether it would be beneficial to bring in law enforcement from outside Danville to help.

“We’re just hoping that more can be done to solve this problem,” Miller said.

Miller said additional police patrols in the parks during the summer help.

Pastors are trying to organize several days of rallies this summer against the violence, with the first coming up on June 29. Miller said they want to spread the word residents will not tolerate the killings of youth and will not accept illegal guns in the community.

He said residents aren’t going to lock themselves up in their houses.

Ward 5 Alderman Mike Puhr said the city has continued to deal with youths and violence issues. He remembers marches in 1994 and 1995 and peace rallies.

“People have to start taking responsibility for their children,” Puhr said.

Ward 7 Alderman Bill Black added the police are working overtime shifts in the city and are being placed where they are needed.

“It’s not that this council is blind to this,” Black said adding the city does what it can do and afford.

Each city has its violence problems, Black said.

In other audience comments, several people with the Carter Park Bears youth football team were on hand to show their support for a safer and usable Carver Park football field. They complained about the glass, rocks, potholes and other obstacles at the field.

The youth now use Ellsworth Park’s field, but that field also floods and has issues and they want to play at Carver Park.

A grant helped improve Carter Park a few years ago, but the youth have yet to play a football game there.

Chris Hightower, president of the team, said the coaches and mentors with the group are trying to do something to help keep youth out of trouble and help they succeed.

He said the community gets around the Danville High School football team. He asked why can’t it also get behind younger players in youth leagues who go on to play at the high school.

Public Works Director Doug Ahrens said irrigation is the issue and the group will need to raise money to help grow the grass on the site. He said other groups at other parks have raised money for irrigation systems or to drill a well for water, such as at Winter Park.

City officials also would have to purchase additional land around Carver Park to move the football field to a more desirable location.

In other business, council members approved:

Of the $47,000 in additional work to be performed by Midwest Asphalt, $32,250 will be reimbursed by the grant. The total cost of the contract now would be $1.03 million. The additional cost will be paid with Midtown Tax Increment Financing funds.

Voting against the medians were aldermen Black, Jon Cooper, Frank Hoskins, Rick Strebing and Sharon McMahon.

Ward 2 alderman Hoskins said he still sees the project as a waste of money, and he doesn’t see much jaywalking in the area.

The work is being paid from the city’s Infrastructure Development and Improvement program, the city’s gas tax.

The positions will be split with the DATS director salary being $45,000 to $55,000 and the Engineer III position seeing a salary of $57,474 to $63,221.