‘A very clear con­nec­tion’

New deputy city man­ager talks about com­mu­nity en­gage­ment

The Progress-Index - - FRONT PAGE - By John Adam Staff Writer

“My role is to make sure there is a very clear con­nec­tion be­tween the gov­ern­ment of Peters­burg and its cit­i­zens, and we will use all sorts of cre­ative en­ergy to make sure it hap­pens.” Dar­netta K. Tyus, Deputy City Man­ager and Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Af­fairs

PETERS­BURG — As part of the re­struc­tur­ing of the city gov­ern­ment, one of the first things new City Man­ager Aretha Fer­rell-Be­na­vides wanted to ad­dress was a po­si­tion that would be re­spon­si­ble for en­gag­ing Peters­burg’s cit­i­zens, mak­ing it eas­ier to get in­volved in the com­mu­nity. That role has been filled by new Deputy City Man­ager and Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Af­fairs Dar­netta K. Tyus.

“My role is to make sure there is a very clear con­nec­tion be­tween the gov­ern­ment of Peters­burg and its cit­i­zens,” said Tyus. “And we will use all sorts of cre­ative en­ergy to make sure it hap­pens.”

Tyus said one of the prin­ci­pals she hopes to spear­head is an en­vi­ron­ment of “col­lab­o­ra­tion and in­clu­sion” in re­gards to en­gag­ing Peters­burg’s cit­i­zens. She is the

first to hold a po­si­tion within the city gov­ern­ment whose role it is to cre­ate this type of at­mos­phere.

“We be­lieve the dif­fer­ence here is that we’re not try­ing to fig­ure out how to run the city on our own; we’re go­ing to in­clude the cit­i­zens of Peters­burg in those dis­cus­sions,” she said.

Tyus has held sim­i­lar po­si­tions in the of­fices of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and plan­ning in both Chicago and Wash­ing­ton D.C. Be­na­vides first ap­proached her just to so­licit her opin­ion of Peters­burg.

“When the city man­ager came aboard, she was in­stantly ex­cited about this lit­tle town she had found,” said Tyus. “She didn’t nec­es­sar­ily talk to me about com­ing aboard, she just said ‘come down, and tell me if you see what I see’. What I saw was a city with an aw­ful lot of po­ten­tial, and that’s ex­cit­ing to me.”

That visit mo­ti­vated Tyus to take the job.

One of Tyus’ first and big­gest ini­tia­tives will be in the form of a new vol­un­teer pro­gram, that aims to get cit­i­zens in­volved be­yond just reg­u­lar vol­un­teerism. The pro­gram will fea­ture Peters­burg cit­i­zens as “am­bas­sadors.”

“It’s go­ing to re­quire a deeper in­vest­ment on be­half of the cit­i­zens who choose to par­tic­i­pate,” said Tyus. “It has sev­eral lay­ers to it that we are go­ing to in­sti­tute, so it’s not just a vol­un­teer pro­gram.”

Many cit­i­zens over the past year have stepped up in the wake of the city’s fi­nan­cial strug­gles, do­ing things like cut­ting over­grown grass and help­ing clean up lo­cal parks. Sev­eral area churches got to­gether in July to do a full-scale cleanup of Po­plar Lawn Park.

Tyus plans on tak­ing ad­van­tage of the ea­ger­ness of Peters­burg’s res­i­dents, say­ing they are “re­sources that the gov­ern­ment does not tap into”.

“There are things that the com­mu­nity does that the gov­ern­ment should be present at, and not just be present at, but [the gov­ern­ment] should par­tic­i­pate in,” said Tyus.

Tyus, who spent the last two weeks get­ting to know the area and its res­i­dents, said that she hopes the cit­i­zens are “ready”.

“As we go for­ward it’s go­ing to be in­cum­bent on us as a new gov­ern­ment to build the kind of trust that causes the res­i­dents of Peters­burg to join us and move for­ward,” she said.

[SCOTT P. YATES/PROGRESS-IN­DEX.COM]

Deputy City Man­ager and Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Af­fairs Dar­netta K. Tyus is pho­tographed in Peters­burg on Thurs­day, Sept. 7, 2017.

[SCOTT P. YATES/PROGRESS-IN­DEX.COM]

Deputy City Man­ager and Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Af­fairs Dar­netta K. Tyus is pho­tographed in Peters­burg on Thurs­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.