October 18, 2006
The 2007 Augusta budget isn't final, but the latest plan has many folks worried.
One program in a part of the city that's seen its share of problems could be cut altogether...so the Barton Village community is doing what they can to help save Weed and Seed.
Every day kids come to the Weed and Seed center in Barton Village to get help with their homework, and they leave with a full meal.
But if the city administrator's plan goes through, that may soon end.
"It would wipe this place out," Weed and Seed director Bettye Jones told News 12.
Jones says she's devastated after learning the city's Weed and Seed program she's directed for four years may be no more after this round of budget cuts.
"We've made a visible difference with working with kids, showing them there's more to life than breaking in cars, and drugs and alcohol, that I just think it would go back to where it was four years ago," she said.
The neighborhood enhancement program in Barton Village has been a safe haven for dozens of young people--an opportunity to take literacy classes while getting their GED.
Aside from the GED program, in the afternoon, the center becomes an after school program for some 40 kids.
It's been a bright spot for a community that's seen its share of recent drug activity and suspected gang violence.
But now the city administrator wants to completely cut the program, to save a near $125,000.
"That would be devastating out here," said Randolph Wade, president of the Barton Village Neighborhood Association. "It would be hard for me to deal with. Not only me, but other residents out in the neighborhood."
Wade has helped to gather over 700 names of people in support of keeping the center open.
"A lot of them love this center, and a lot of them don't know that this center going to be closed, but we're trying to get the word out to the neighbors," Wade said.
"It would just be a sad day for the community, the seniors, and the people that worked so hard to put this in the community," Jones said.
The neighbors in this area are planning a meeting on October 25 at McDuffie Recreation Center. They're asking city leaders to also come out to hear their concerns.
The Weed and Seed program has been around since 1998.
Earlier this year, they lost their federal funding, so the city took over.
But that money could dry up now as well.