Lynchburg 'State of the City' highlights accomplishments and obstacles

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Lynchburg leaders updated the community on the state of the city Monday night. They say it's a state filled with accomplishments, but also some issues that they are working to combat.

Mayor Joan Foster addressed the community the way she usually does: She lowered the microphone and hopped up on a stool joking, “I got them all over town.”

It was a night celebrating Lynchburg from the arts, to the volunteers.

The State of the City address was kicked off with an opera singer and a guitar player. After shining a light on artists, the Mayor and Vice Mayor Treney Tweedy turned the room’s attention to volunteers. The team, along with the rest of City Council, honored five citizens who are doing outstanding work for others.

But with the good, came acknowledging the challenges. Tweedy addressed concerns over the “Poverty to Progress” initiative.

“We know there are some in the community who are skeptical about the poverty to progress initiative. For some of you we may not be moving fast enough,” said Tweedy.

The initiative was launched about a year ago to combat the city’s 24 percent poverty rate.

Monday night, Tweedy and Foster said progress is being made.

“We have successfully put the problems of poverty in this community in the forefront,” said Tweedy.

Moving forward, they will continue to focus on main tenants of the initiative like early childhood education, access to healthcare, and transportation. These are areas they say the city has already made progress in.

The mayor applauded to the Community Action Network’s new fifth street health center for bringing health care to those in need. Tweedy announced that the Poverty to Progress Education group will hold its first Pre-K registration event at James Crossing on March 10th. And the team pointed out the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company’s efforts to bring transportation to the poverty stricken areas of the city.

Lynchburg is a growing and aging city. The team acknowledged some infrastructure concerns while celebrating jobs that have been completed or are in progress, like the Main Street Bridge project.

An upcoming budget plan is another hurdle. As they continue to fight that poverty rate, city funds are limited.

“We have asked the staff, our city manager to reduce the budget by two percent,” said Foster. “So it’s going to be a tough budget.”

Ultimately, they ended the night on a high note and with a call to action.

“We will continue to move forward and achieve greater things. We are Lynchburg strong,” said Foster.