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      Flint gets grant to train volunteers to fight blight

      It doesn't cost much to spruce up overgrown lawns and board up windows. But it does take some willing volunteers.

      Thatâ??s where Flint Mayor Dayne Walling hopes a new $25,000 grant will help.

      "It's going to take people stepping up and doing their part putting in the time and the hours,â?? Mayor Walling said.

      The money comes from the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund. Walling said it will help train blight enforcement volunteers and provide mini grants to neighborhood groups.

      "A little bit can go a long way with the volunteers coming together and organizing and getting to work,â?? Walling said.

      The effort is part of the Flint Police Blue Badge program. The goal is to clean up 20 blocks across the city. Trained volunteers will pick up trash, mow lawns, board up empty homes and erase graffiti.

      Mayor Walling said it's the city's answer to the ongoing efforts of neighborhood groups.

      â??Blight was their No.1 concern, beyond basic crime issues,â?? he said.

      If successful, the program will create new groups to fight blight and in turn reduce crime - an example of how a little seed money can grow a network of people to want to make Flint a cleaner, safer place to live.

      Applications for neighborhood groups will be available early next year.

      In the meantime, you can email Flint Police Officer Tanya Meeks at