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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Signs are aimed at improving west end

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Sikeston Public Works employees installed a new Weed and Seed sign at the corner of Malone Avenue and Branum Street.
SIKESTON -- From demolishing dilapidated buildings to creating community gardens, many efforts are being made to improve the quality of life in the west end of Sikeston. Now, green and white signs stating you are in a Weed and Seed area is the next attempt at improving the area.

"The signs have been going up for about the last six weeks," said Lisa Lane, director of SEMO Weed and Seed. "The city has partnered with us in order to get the signs in place."

The signs, supplied by the Department of Justice, were placed in the area from Frisco to Murray Lane to John R. Boulevard across west to Magnolia, down to the north side of Compress and back to Frisco. The signs were placed there in hopes of decreasing crime in the area.

"The signs are very important because they say two things," Lane said. "One, the police department is going to come in here and weed out."

The Sikeston Department of Public Safety will not be patrolling the area alone however.

"(DPS) is going to be watching the area more closely but they are going to be doing it with the assistance of residents within the target area," Lane said. "The residents are going to come to the table and tell (Weed and Seed along with DPS) what their needs are, how we can meet those needs and how we can work together and improve the quality of life of all the people in this area and the people of Sikeston as a whole."

Lane said the second reason the signs are important is because the criminals could be punished more harshly if they are caught committing a crime within the Weed and Seed area.

"That will be up to the local and federal prosecutors and judges to make that determination. But that is what happens. If you come into a Weed and Seed target area and you are selling drugs or you commit a homicide or any type of crime, you stand a chance to get more prison time or have a higher fine," Lane said.

One worry of pushing the crime out of the Weed and Seed target area is it will show up in another part of town.

"One thing we have to keep in mind is that every time we begin to weed out of one area of town is that we don't move it to another area of town," Lane said. "The goal is that we move it out of the city boundaries all together. That is the weeding part of it, everyone is going to do their part to come in and get rid of the criminal elements."

So far Lane and Kenya Marshall, director of Sikeston Weed and Seed, said they have received mixed feedback from the signs. Lane said most of the negative feedback is because the people do not understand Weed and Seed.

"Weed and Seed is a strategy," Lane said. "A lot of people get that mixed up, they think it is a program. They ask 'What is Weed and Seed doing? We don't see Weed and Seed doing anything.' But they see Mission Missouri doing things and the Reading Room and St. John's Baptist Church. That is all a part of Weed and Seed."

Sikeston began working with the Weed and Seed strategy in 1996. Weed and Seed now has developed programs and helped with funding for the Reading Room, Mission Missouri, St. John's Baptist Church, Prince of Peace Baptist Church, Business Research Institute and the Daughters of Sunset to name a few. This is all part of the seeding aspect of the strategy, Lane said.

While the Weed and Seed strategy is a long-term plan, Marshall assures residents the signs will not be up for the next five to 10 years, with hopes of them coming down once the area is better and people understand the strategy.

Anyone with questions about Weed and Seed or the signs can contact Marshall at 481-0360.