Va. National Guard cleaning up and cleaning out Petersburg

Posted at 8:39 PM, Aug 21, 2012

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR)--A partnership between the City of Petersburg and the Virginia National Guard hopes to improve the city and fight crime by tearing down blighted houses.

A dozen abandoned homes in ward five have been targeted by the guard unit from Virginia Beach, who are demolishing the homes as part of their annual two-week training.

The Petersburg mission is the first for what is called "Operation Renew," and it falls under the Virginia National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force.

"There's no doubt that these homes were being used to hide drugs, to hide criminals who were dealing drugs, so we got rid of one of those hiding places,” said Police Chief John Dixon, as he stood in front of an empty lot where a house stood yesterday.

Councilman Howard Myers said that in the last year, more than 30 homes have been torn down, as part of an effort by the city to clean up the neighborhoods and reduce drug trafficking.

Many sat on their front porch and watched as the dozen members of the Va. National Guard quickly brought down the blighted homes.

The two-week project also includes tearing down a commercial building next Tuesday.