One woman who lives in the New Town area says it is time to take back her community. And she is willing to do whatever it takes.

Speaking to the Ragland City Council Monday night, Gwen Looney said some problems exist in that area with “want-to-be- thugs and drug dealers.”

“It is time that we come together as a community,” Looney said. “It’s time we clean up that place and make sure it is kept clean and respected. We should not allow anyone to come on those grounds and turn it into a drug and sex park.”

The council has previously discussed some of the issues at the former New Town school, particularly with some of those who have rented the building.

“As far as the school building up there, I blame the community,” Looney said. “We live over there, and we allow this stuff to go on. We need to make these kids respect that property, because it didn’t come easy. 

“Our parents sold until they got enough money to purchase property and deed it to the St. Clair County Board of Education so they could build us a school. Kids need to know this didn’t come easy.”

Looney also said the police would not allow things that go on at the New Town school to go on at Ragland’s park. She said the blame belongs equally to the community, law enforcement and parents.

“The police department is in bad shape if they are scared to go up there at night,” Looney said. “What would you do if you had some real criminals up there? The only thing I know that happened up there is when four boys beat my son’s head in.”

Looney said she has no fear of the area, because she will protect herself as long as she can.

“I’m not scared to go up there at night,” she said. “You can stand in my yard and watch vehicles go in and out all times of the day and night. But they will not do any of that stuff on my property.”

Mayor pro-tem Carlton Byers said some of the city’s new measures will make a positive impact.

“We are not sitting on our hands,” Byers said. “We have put things in motion as far as renting, getting a committee together to screen the renters. We are looking at beautifying the building and making repairs to the roof.”

Police chief James “Bubba” Brown said in the past two months they have arrested “four major drug dealers” out of that community.