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North and South: Part I

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - The Ouachita River, it's a clear dividing line between Monroe and West Monroe. But citizens who call the Twin Cities home say a much deeper division exists between those who live on the north side and those who live to the south. Residents say all is "not fair" on the two sides.

82-year-old Berna Dean Jones is an advocate for South Monroe. She works with dozens, helping her neighborhood cast a better light on this part of Ouachita Parish.
     
"I'm concerned about our business in our area," Jones said.

At the Emily Robinson Community Center on Jackson Street, Jones leads monthly meetings taking in ideas about ways to improve her community.

"If we have affordable homes, education is the key, and have a good school system, then people will be happy to move to our area," Jones said.

Jones even offers her own advice on ways to bridge the gap between North and South Monroe.

"The fourth Tuesday of each month, we have our community clean-up, so we get the word out," she said. 

In West Monroe near South Third Street residents have a different set of concerns.

"They call this like the hood.that's what they call it. That's the name I guess they give us," West Monroe resident Printiess Lyons said.

A couple South West Monroe residents believe the men and women patrolling the streets are lacking respect.

"If they can sit at that corner, right there for 30 minutes and just watch us, something needs to be done about it," West Monroe residents Joshua Vanburan said. 

Although some residents have their concerns about law enforcement. Others say they actually don't mind the officers patrolling the area.

 "I don't mind seeing the police, I be happy to see the police because you know everything is good," Lyons said.

However, Lyons says he's had rough encounters with city police as well. Those West Monroe residents say they're willing to work with law enforcement to tackle crime but they're also hoping for some respect.

And that respect, one 82-year-old woman has earned from her neighbors who are now working with her to bring changes to the area.

"We are reclaiming, restoring our neighborhood to not what it used to be but what we want it to be," Jones said.

Lawmakers detail their plans to bridge these two areas, in the next report, of the Twin Cities and how both are more alike than different.

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