Community meeting focuses on improving safety, condition of neighborhoods

By John Guidroz
jguidroz@americanpress .com

Community Meeting

Dozens of residents joined local elected officials and law enforcement on Monday for a community meeting to talk about improving the condition and safety of neighborhoods in central Lake Charles.

The meeting, held at Starlight Baptist Church, gave residents the chance to share ideas on how to clean up existing homes and rental properties, improve failing schools, attract new businesses and lower crime.

Starlight Baptist Pastor Julian Woods said he has lived in the area for 30 years. Instead of hearing complaints, he said the meeting centered around offering solutions to rebuilding the community.

Woods stressed community involvement, saying elected officials can’t improve neighborhoods alone. He said residents should take pride in their neighborhoods by cleaning up trash and removing run-down vehicles.

“We are the answer to it, if we work together,” Woods said. “We have dropped the ball and let things get out of control.”

Woods also addressed people who wear sagging pants, calling it “nonsense.”

“I don’t care what the style is; it can’t happen in our community,” he said.

Lake Charles City Council members Luvertha August and Rodney Geyen attended the meeting. August said the area she represents has deteriorated over the years, with one problem being overcrowding at rental properties.

Calcasieu Parish School Board member Glenda Gay said the problems with lowperforming predominantly black schools have been ongoing “for about 20 years.” She said parent participation usually starts to decline once students reach middle school.

School Board member Mack Delafosse said there are “pockets of dysfunction” in schools labeled as failing. But test scores shouldn’t be the only factor in determining whether a school is considered failing, he said.

Delafosse said low-performing schools will never improve if high-performing students continue transferring to out-of-zone schools.

Pearl Watson Elementary School Principal Shaunte Guillory said community involvement is critical in improving a low-performing school.

“If we don’t have a partnership, our students won’t be successful at all,” she said.

Lake Charles Police also discussed efforts to slow down drug trafficking and how meeting directly with landlords and tenants can fix problems at rental properties.

Lake Charles Police also discussed efforts to slow down drug trafficking and how meeting directly with landlords and tenants can fix problems at rental properties.

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