'Town and Gown' Meetings Build Relationships - WSET.com - ABC13

'Town and Gown' Meetings Build Relationships

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Lynchburg, VA - For more than a year, Lynchburg city leaders have been having regular talks with Lynchburg college presidents. The meetings are called "Town and Gowns" and are meant to hash out conflict, strengthen ties between the city and schools, and plan for the future.

Nothing tangible has resulted from the Towns and Gowns, but participants say they've definitely built stronger relationships. Lynchburg City Council hosted the first at City Hall more than a year ago. Wednesday, Virginia University of Lynchburg hosted its Town and Gown.

This is what a Town and Gown looks like - city leaders breaking bread with college presidents, opening up about their plans and hopes.

"Is Town and Gown working?" we asked Ralph Reavis, president of VUL.

"I think so," said Reavis. "Because people are talking. And people have an opportunity to share eachother's concerns here rather than in the public, in the newspaper."

"Getting to know one another is always a plus in a community," said Joan Foster, former Lynchburg Mayor.

Wednesday's Town and Gown was VUL's, one of the final colleges to host the event. VUL's concern is being in a safe city. 

"My number one security thing is that kids are safe," said Reavis.

Having a well-paid Lynchburg Police Department has come up at earlier Towns and Gowns. This summer that wish came true when Lynchburg City Council approved the police pay raise.

"When parents send their students here or their children, they want to know their children will be safe," said Reavis.

Get!Downtown is a city-college event introducing students every fall to their new home. The festival is not a Town and Gown idea, but leaders praise it. It introduces students to Lynchburg, making it feel like a home, maybe even an area they will one day settle down.

"We have all these young people coming to our community. Why are we not courting them a little bit more?" said Foster.

The next Town and Gown is in December, hosted by CVCC. It will be a milestone - every Town and Gown member having a chance to host the event.

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