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."

 


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AICHELE, JOSHUA ALAN     4417 OAKWOOD DR CHATTANOOGA, 37416     27              AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ALSTON, STEVEN MATHEW     3906 MURRAY HILLS DRIVE CHATTANOOGA, 37416     39     Chattanooga ... (click for more)

East Ridge Collects Enough Signatures To Vote On Wine Referendum In November

East Ridge has collected the required number of valid signatures on its local petition to determine whether wine can be sold in its retail food stores. The Hamilton County Election Commission notified Red White and Food that the required number of signatures have been turned in and verified for East Ridge. The election commission previously notified the campaign ... (click for more)

The Truth About Justice

The rallying cry in Ferguson Missouri has been "justice for Michael Brown." The question is what is justice? Justice is that the facts of the case are investigated thoroughly and regardless of the outcome of that investigation the family and friends of Michael Brown along with the citizens of Ferguson and this country need to accept the outcome no matter what it reveals.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Chief Delmore: ‘You Blew It!”

Far more than 50,000 people, most police officers and law enforcement authorities, have gone to a website, “LawOfficer.com” to read a scathing letter that first appeared on Sunday. Veteran lawman Ed Delmore, who became the Police Chief in Gulf Shores, Ala., after a brilliant career as the “Top Cop” in St. Louis (which he still loves) has written what was entitled, “An Open Letter ... (click for more)

Ison Powers Ooltewah Past Cleveland In 5-AAA Volleyball

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Ooltewah’s Courtlyn Ison was in midseason form Tuesday night. And Cleveland’s Lady Blue Raiders had no answer for the Lady Owls’ potent offensive threat. Ison, who led Ooltewah to district, region and sub-state titles en route to the 2013 Class AAA state tournament, overpowered Cleveland with a dominating net game and the Lady Owls opened their season with ... (click for more)

Hixson Beats Silverdale For Second Win

There's something about that second set that gives the Hixson Lady Wildcats trouble. Hixson lost the second set in Monday's volleyball opener against Sale Creek.  They did the same thing against the Silverdale Seahawks on Tuesday, but just like Monday's match, the Lady Wildcats came out on top, 3-1. Hixson won the first set with ease, 25-11.  Silverdale evened the  ... (click for more)