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Mayor Lea lays out Roanoke's struggles and successes in State of City address

Mayor Sherman Lea delivering the State of the City on September 1, 2016.
Mayor Sherman Lea delivering the State of the City on September 1, 2016. (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - For the first time since taking office, Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea delivered the State of the City address. This year, it was held at the Hotel Roanoke to accommodate the turnout of more than 300 people.

There was a solid show of support among city leaders. City Manager Chris Morrill and Superintendent Dr. Rita Bishop spoke on Lea's success.

The newly elected mayor was more than excited to announce that this year was a big success. Some of those successes include 75 miles of paved city streets, 4,300 potholes repairs, crews finished 14 storm water projects and the list goes on.

Lea added the city started single-stream recycling, which increased community recycling by 97 percent. On top of that, the police department implemented body cameras for each officer.

This is all great, but Lea said the city still struggles with poverty and fighting homelessness.

"A spotlight was shown on student homelessness," said the newly elected Mayor. "Roanoke City Public Schools entered the 2015-2016 school year with 589 homeless students. You know, that's tough to sit in the classroom and to not know where you're going to be staying that night."

Lea further said it's important to continue to create programs, like United Way's RYSE initiative, to combat homelessness.

Other challenges include maintaining a low crime rate, providing more job opportunities and fighting drug abuse. Lea said we can overcome these challenges with change and help from the entire community.

When WSLS 10 asked Lea about the problem with downtown flooding, he didn't say much, but that downtown is a flood zone and city officials are aware of the issue and looking into it.

Click here to read the full transcript of the address