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."

 


Evening Lane Closures On I-24 Tuesday-Thursday For Median Wall Repairs

Beginning Tuesday evening and again on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, between the hours of 8 p.m.-6 a.m., the TDOT bridge repair crew will be making permanent repairs to a damaged median barrier wall on I-24 East at mile marker 178.   The wall was severely damaged in a crash involving a jack knifed tractor trailer on July 28.   The crew will demolish the wall Tuesday ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ADAMS, BARRY MALONE  207 SPEARS AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37405  Age at Arrest: 34 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- AUSTIN, VICTOR JAMES  226 COUNTY ROAD 806 WHITEROCK, 35966  Age at Arrest: 26 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton ... (click for more)

Sheriff Hammond Is Right On The Muslim Threat

Sheriff Hammond is exactly correct on the Muslims in Tennessee.  He sees with clear eyes the problem with the Muslims in our state and country.  They do want to take over Tennessee.  Our politicians are selling us down the river and allowing the trouble makers to dig in like tics and suck out the life's blood of our Constitution and take us over.  They ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My September Garden

As we begin the annual pilgrimage into fall, I walk through my garden and, in the spirit of Orchids and Onions, I see colorful mums starting to flower at the same time dried-up weeds are begging to be pulled. So as we turn the calendar to September, here are some things that catch my eye: A COLORFUL MUM to Chattanooga State for unveiling the Michael Hennen Hospitality Center in ... (click for more)

Jumper, Ex-Baylor Star, To Start For Vols Against Bowling Green

When 25 th -ranked Tennessee plays Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, former Baylor School standout Colton Jumper will be the Vols’ starting middle linebacker. The 6-foot-2-inch, 227-pound Jumper played at Baylor for coach Phil Massey and recorded 251 tackles, 39 tackles for loss, 22 sacks, two interceptions, caused five fumbles, recovered two ... (click for more)

County Schools Waiting On Report On Condition Of East Ridge High Stands

County school officials are awaiting a report from city of East Ridge inspectors on the condition of the concrete football stands at East Ridge High School. Lee McDade, assistant supt., said maintenance of the stands is up to the county schools. The concrete stands are currently roped off. The concrete complex includes a lower area with coaches' offices and player dressing ... (click for more)