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Southside town hall meeting bridging the gap

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Church leaders, law enforcement officials and school board members will gather Tuesday night for a town hall meeting to discuss issues like community policing, juvenile crime and problems with blight.

Everyone is encouraged and invited to attend the gathering at Southside Church of God in Christ. Their hope is to have as many hands on deck as possible.

There are many things they want to talk about with people in the community but their message is simple: "Together, we can affect change."

For those who work and attend services at Southside Church of God in Christ, having an impact is
easy within the church walls. But to make a difference, leaders have to branch out.

"What we provide is something wonderful. But when you walk outside the door, it's an entirely different
story," said Wanda Waters. She is a manager for the church and has seen the neighborhood, and the city change over the years. She says a lot of that change needs addressing.

"There is a lot of at-risk youth in the area. There's crime in the area," said Waters.

That's why the church is hosting a town hall meeting tonight. Officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's
Office, leaders with Duval County Public Schools, and other church members will be there to address concerns and discuss solutions.

"For there to be a really serious conversation, it really needs to be done more than just at home, but
in a community setting,” said Waters.

Topics on deck include community policing, blight, and even ways to bring more jobs. But there's also
the problem of violence and crime amongst teenagers. Waters' hope is to hear from young people as well.

"They don't always see our point of view. But we don't always see theirs. We need to hear from them
and not just them hearing from us all of the time," said Waters.

Everyone is welcome to attend. You're encouraged to bring your ideas and be ready to share.

"Come with an open mind. Be ready to listen to others as well. But by all means, let your voice be heard
as well," said Waters.

The meeting  begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the the church on Emerson Street.