Weed and Seed letter of intent submitted

Henderson City Manager Eric Williams has submitted a letter of intent to seek official recognition for a proposed Weed and Seed site covering a large swath of eastern Henderson and running outside the city lines into unincorporated parts of Vance County.

Williams, in his role as chairman of the Vance Organization to Implement Community Excellence, took care of the formalities Monday, he announced in an e-mail message that day. In addition to the five-page letter he submitted to U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney in Raleigh, Williams co-signed a cover letter from Whitney to Nelson Hernandez, the head of the Justice Department’s Community Capacity Development Office.

Hernandez’s office runs the Weed and Seed program, a federal effort to promote comprehensive community strategies to attack drugs and violent crime and the underlying problems that allow those problems to take root. The five-year Weed and Seed designation is highly competitive and greatly enhances the chances of winning a variety of grants.

“The City has developed an aggressive and comprehensive strategic plan to tackle the myriad of problems and challenges in the proposed target area,” the letter to Hernandez reads. That letter offers full support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Weed and Seed application.

Whitney’s office has acted on that support through the efforts of its Weed and Seed coordinator, Don Connelly; by recently bringing in a free technical adviser through the Justice Department, Michelle Duhart; and by sending police Lt. Perry Twisdale and VOICE Secretary Donna Stearns from Henderson-Vance Youth Services to Los Angeles for the national Weed and Seed conference this month.

The letter of intent from Williams lays out the problems and challenges, including murder, drugs, teen pregnancy and unemployment.

VOICE’s primary mission has been to serve as the steering committee for the Weed and Seed application, which must be completed by mid-October.

Williams wrote in his e-mail that VOICE will establish the necessary working groups next month to complete the 50-page Weed and Seed application. The Sept. 7 meeting of VOICE, which comes 37 days before the completed draft of the application must be submitted to Whitney, will be crucial to launching the final phase of preparation.