Berke Sees Progress On Public Safety, Children's Services, Business Opportunities

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - by Hollie Webb
Mayor Andy Berke
Mayor Andy Berke
- photo by Hollie Webb

Mayor Andy Berke told members of the Hixson Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that he continues to focus his time on four issues: public safety, education, stronger neighborhoods, and sounder government.

He said, "Our streets are just too dangerous." He told the audience there are no easy solutions to this problem, but that progress has been made; the rate of shootings has dropped 42 percent.

He said the Chattanooga Police Department has recently increased its number by 50 more officers. He also emphasized that police are not just responding to calls. Instead, he has encouraged officers to be more interactive in the community, talking to people and finding out where there is trouble.



This is all part of his Violence Reduction Initiative. This program targets groups of people behind violent crime rather than targeting a location. He said, "It's usually 15 to 20 people in a neighborhood that are engaging in the shooting."

When one person is involved in a shooting, police now focus in on who that person was associating with. Mayor Berke said the majority of shootings occurring in Chattanooga follow a "cycle of retaliation." He said, "One group shoots at another, so that group comes back."

Mayor Berke said his next big focus area is "smarter students." He said, "The best investment we can make in our city is through young people."

He said all of the Youth and Family Development Centers in the city now provide reading rooms in addition to free recreation. Anyone is free to go work on their reading skills at these locations. He said parents have taken advantage of this by bringing their children to read while they work out.

Currently, 459 children have gone through this reading initiative. He said, "That's how how cities get better."

He also discussed mentorship programs for students. He said, "Success in life is not just about academics, it's about character." He said he wants every student to have a chance to learn values such as persistence and determination, even if the child is not taught those things at home.

Mayor Berke said he wants to build stronger neighborhoods by growing small businesses and promoting entrepreneurship. He said, "We have to capitalize on what we have here in Chattanooga."

He continued, "I've never seen a greater moment for entrepreneurship and small businesses." He said people have trouble finding funding, so the city has been working on a program to help.

Called StartupCHA, the program allows people to apply to test their products with the city. He said it could be anything from new types of concrete to lighting, but if it works, the city of Chattanooga will be a validator for that particular business.

He also said he wanted to bring more quality jobs to the area. He said, "We have the fastest Internet in the Western Hemisphere. If you want to test tomorrow's technology today, the place to do that is Chattanooga."

Mayor Berke said his last main issue was creating "sounder government." He told the audience all of his programs had been created without a tax increase. He said, however, that he still welcomes feedback to continue improving on this.

He said, "People are really proud of Chattanooga. Outdoor Magazine called us 'the best town ever.'"

He ended, saying, "I really believe that we live in the best place in the world and it's only getting better."

 


Chattanooga Radio Icon Earl Freudenberg Gives His Last On Air Words

Chattanooga radio icon Earl Freudenberg has retired after nearly 55 years.    Friday was the last day for the longtime radio host known to many fans as "Hey Earl." (click for more)

Retired Police Chief Freeman Cooper Awarded Top Law Enforcement Honor

The Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police held its 2016 Annual Conference in Chattanooga.  This year’s Joe Casey Award went to Retired Chattanooga Police Chief Freeman Cooper. The award was presented by TACP Past President and Retired Metro Nashville Police Chief Joe Casey to Chief Cooper in the company of police chiefs and dignitaries from across the ... (click for more)

Pedestrians Have The Right Of Way - And Response

Often I visit Gold's Gym at Chestnut and 4th Street. I  park in the theater parking lot at Broad and 4th Street.  I depend on the walk signs to get me there safely.  Most days I almost get hit by someone turning left or right coming from the exit ramp off 27 or turning right on 4th street from Chestnut. This happened yesterday as I was almost mowed down by a garbage ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Gold & Ivory Tablecloth

Not long ago, in my morning reading, I happened across an obscure tale about a special tablecloth. And, as things like this are more and more wont to do, I was instantly blessed by this story. As I tracked down its origin, I learned it originally appeared in a 1954 edition of Reader’s Digest. Written by the Rev. Howard C. Schade, who at the time was the pastor of the First Reformed ... (click for more)

McColley Scores 4 TDs, McCallie Crushes Blackman, 49-10

(Story will be updated) Senior running back Shawn McColley struck early and often Friday night, scoring McCallie’s first four touchdowns and propelling the Blue Tornado to a 49-10 rout of Blackman at Spears Stadium. McColley scored on runs of 10, 37, 7 and 1 yard to lead a Tornado offensive onslaught that needed just one minute to reach the end zone. McCallie (1-1) ... (click for more)

UTC Soccer Falls To Murray State 2-0

 The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s soccer team put up a strong defensive battle Friday night at Murray, Ky., but fell 2-0 to Murray State in non-conference action. The Mocs fall to 1-2 overall and the Racers are now 1-1 on the year.   UTC freshman keeper Melia Correa (Clarksville, Tenn.) returned to the goal Friday and made six saves while her defensive ... (click for more)