DANVILLE (WSLS 10) - Not surprisingly, violent crime was the elephant in the room at the Danville City Council's retreat during the weekend, the first in about five years.
Violent crime is the number one issue council members want to address. Its other two priorities are education and growing the city economically.
Now, it's up to city manager Ken Larking to begin discussing with department heads how to specifically address these priorities.
With council's priorities now laid out, Larking doesn't plan on wasting any time before addressing the priorities with the heads of their respective departments.
"We're targeting to meet with them immediately," Larking said.
The goal is to make the department heads aware of what council wants when it comes to each priority and then discuss with the department heads how make that a reality.
"Some of those things are actually going to be related to things that city council, on their own, has looked up, have researched and they've got ideas. So, we're going to try to mash those together and then have a fully thought out process," Larking explained.
Council member Lee Vogler said a lot of progress was made during the retreat and it was refreshing to be able to get away for a weekend and focus on the priorities.
"It allowed us to kind of sit down in a relaxed environment and be more comfortable to talk about these issues," said Vogler.
He said the ongoing violent crime in the city received the most attention, with council members discussing the issue for almost five hours.
"We're going to get more in-depth about it in upcoming meetings, but I think by and large, council is a big believer in community policing," Vogler emphasized. "It's something that I've talked about for the four and a half years that I've been on council; utilizing that more in our city."
As for education and growing the economy, council discussed meeting with the school board more frequently and discussed ways to encourage more people to live and work in the city.
Robin Jones, who owns Vintages by the Dan in downtown Danville, has lived in the city all her life. She agrees with the council's priorities.
"Citizens are very concerned about the crime rate in Danville. That certainly needs to be addressed. Education is always a concern," Jones pointed out.
Larking said if all goes well, he expects to have information from the department heads to present to city council at the council's first meeting in December.
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