Monday, October 20, 2003

Banned signs sow seeds of discord



By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MADISONVILLE - Leaders in this Cincinnati neighborhood worked for three years to win a special federal grant to fight crime. But the city won't let them post signs touting it.

Madisonville is the city's second neighborhood, after Evanston, to become a "Weed and Seed" location. That's a U.S. Department of Justice program aimed at weeding out the bad with police overtime and seeding new good things, like arts programs and anti-truancy efforts.

The six signs the Justice Department sent two months ago to coordinator Kathy Garrison remain in storage.

City traffic engineering officials said the signs couldn't go up because they might block important traffic signs.

"I just called the traffic department, not thinking this was going to be a major thing," Garrison said Sunday. "Apparently, the federal government has not had problems in other communities.

The signs were headed for six gateways into the neighborhood, like Madison Road and Erie Avenue at Brotherton Road.

For Garrison and Sue Micheli, community council president, the Weed and Seed signs show off their efforts to get the designation and the $225,000 grant that came with it. They hope to hear soon on their application for a second $225,000.

But there's another reason for the signs. Pending federal legislation would increase jail time for certain crimes committed in Weed and Seed areas. The Weed and Seed designation has to be posted, Garrison said, for any extra penalties to be possible.

Email jprendergast@enquirer.com




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