Roanoke Mayor delivers State of City address

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 4:11 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - “This year has been an unprecedented year of challenges,” remarked Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea as he reflected on the past 12 months during his annual State of the City address Thursday.

Despite those challenges, he’s optimistic about the future.

“We are a resilient people,” said Lea. “We get knocked down, but we don’t stay down. We get back up.”

While addressing the pandemic, the mayor highlighted the return to in-person learning and an 89% graduation rate in city schools.

He also encouraged everyone to get vaccinated, celebrating the 100,000 doses distributed at the Berglund Center from January to May.

“Let’s not fight each other on this; let’s fight the virus,” said Lea.

Economic recovery was another main talking point Thursday.

Mayor Lea discussed the city’s efforts to allocate $64.5 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan.

“With local funds of this magnitude, especially if we’re able to leverage them against other state and federal funds, the opportunity exists to fully transform aspects of our community,” he said.

Ultimately, a major focus of the mayor’s address was a rise in gun violence. He highlighted the work of the city’s new RESET coordinator and his team as well as the Gun Violence Prevention Commission.

He noted the city is now offering reward money to help solve violent crimes. And he says city leaders plan to hold press conferences once or twice a month to keep the community informed about their efforts.

“Our first and foremost responsibility is to make sure you are safe in your home,” said Lea.

The mayor also said attracting and retaining new police officers is a top priority moving forward. He said the city is dedicated to providing a 26% salary increase for officers over the next three years.

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