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Ohio National Guard to Fight Blight in Youngstown - WFMJ

The city of Youngstown has a new weapon in its arsenal to combat urban blight. Usually, when you see the National Guard come into a city it's because they are helping during a national disaster. But this weekend The Ohio National Guard is coming to the south side of Youngstown to fight blight. Heavy machinery will be brought in to demolish 28 vacant homes. "The city has to pay for the dumping at the landfill and all the pre-demolition activities but they are bringing all of their own equipment and manpower," said Community Development Director, William D'Avignon. The National Guard will likely save the city a couple hundred thousand dollars in demolition costs. Obviously, tearing old homes down will benefit the community but it also benefits the National Guard as well. It allows all of the National Guard members to get training on the heavy equipment that they need to use. It's all part of a Department of Defense Civil-Military Innovative Readiness Training Program. An entire battalion from Camp Ravenna will be doing the work for the next two weeks. People who live near the vacant houses say they'll be happy to see them go. James Brown of Youngstown said, "The rodents, the squatters running in and out and tearing them up. It's a bad eyesore." The Community Development Director says if the program proves to be successful for the National Guard, there's a possibility it could be expanded in the future to remove a couple hundred vacant homes in the city. He says right now, there are a couple thousand that still need to be removed. To read the full story from WFMJ, click here.