New grant gives Lithonia's old city hall building new look for youth programs

Lithonia Police Chief Donald Dejarnette is excited about future plans for the old city hall building.  It will soon serve as the new home for the city's planned youth and young adult resource center.

The state recently awarded the small department $1.3 million dollars in grant money to fund the project.

"It will help us tremendously," Lithonia Mayor Shameka Reynolds told FOX 5 Deidra Dukes. "We have youth here who don't have anything to do, and that's pretty much all across metro-Atlanta. That's why alot of time you see the petty crime and stuff, getting into things they shouldn't get into."

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The Lithonia police chief told FOX 5 he is excited about future plans to renovate the old city hall building.

The chief said program participants will learn a new trade or job skill to further their career and keep them out of trouble.

"With the youth center, it gives them somewhere to come, whether we are dealing with somebody who is troubled, or we are dealing with a parent who says 'I don't have something,' or ‘I need something,’" he explained. "If we can get that child or that parent to buy into a year-long program to learn something, you just never know what you are going to get from a child."

Lithonia Police Department patch

City officials were thrilled to learn they were among the group selected by the state to receive one of the federally funded grants.

$1 million will go to building and outfitting the youth facility. The remaining money is allocated for updated software, bulletproof vests, new radios and other equipment for the police department.

 "We're a small department. We are a small city. But being here in metro-Atlanta, we still deal with large crime," Chief Dejarnette said. "To be able to effectively provide the officers with the tools they need to do the job safely and effectively means everything."