Crime and the loss of two grocery stores in north Killeen caused residents in the 76541 ZIP code to gather Monday evening for the second meeting to plan actions.
Fifteen criminal homicides have been reported in Killeen so far this year, according to Herald research. IGA Foodliner and H-E-B closed stores in north Killeen in August and September this year, respectively.
The 76541 Community Coalition session drew around 30-40 Killeen residents
The goal of the community coalition was to establish a group of community leaders, advocates, law enforcement, economic developers, social workers, social service agencies, military personnel, mentors, ministers and others in helping professions, according to a post on the Facebook page of the meeting organizer, Lolita Gilmore.
The focus of the meeting was the coalition’s plan of action, which Gilmore said includes:
- Developing an active transportation system between social agencies and churches to ensure families have adequate access to obtain nutritional resources from a major grocery establishment.
- Meet with existing mentor groups to create a framework of networking agencies that complement and understand the complexities associated with the demographics of the north Killeen area.
- Focus on advocacy and more active community research to ensure any efforts to improve the community are effective
Gilmore spoke to the residents at the meeting about the limitations on the residents in north Killeen, the 76541 zip code area. The price of a carton of eggs was an example that was used. A carton of eggs costs around $1.10 at H-E-B on Trimmier and the same carton of eggs at a Family Dollar in north Killeen costs $4.10, according to Gilmore.
Gilmore also went over the services that are needed in the 76541 area. Ten different services were listed in Gilmore’s presentation:
- Better economic opportunities
- Viable grocery or nutritional source
- Community life centers
- Age appropriate mentoring programs
- Social service centers
- Family centers
- Age appropriate after-school programs
- Public transportation
- Law enforcement and security teams
- Health care
Gilmore said none of this will happen overnight and will take a lot of hard work and lobbying to city officials to inspire change.
Philemon Brown, a Harker Heights resident at Monday’s meeting, said that there have not been enough people in north Killeen engaged in city politics and voting to make a difference for north Killeen.
Other residents at the meeting encouraged people to register to vote and vote to make a difference in the elections in 2020.
The coalition took steps to establish an advisory board and a steering committee, and members signed up for the different boards they want to be on.
The next meeting of the coalition will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at Anderson Chapel AME Church.