City of Cleveland, Texas, working to show its better side

June 29, 2012 4:34:27 PM PDT
Cleveland, Texas, is a city that's been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. But just in time for Independence Day celebrations, one group is hoping to inspire residents there to celebrate some hometown pride.

Cleveland is a city of just 8,000 people, but plenty of bad press.

"Cleveland's not a safe place," said resident Benjamin Holmes.

In 2010, Cleveland made headlines around the country when 21 men were accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. Their cases are still being tried in court.

Then just a few months ago, 16 Cleveland high schoolers overdosed on drugs at school. Four students were arrested for drug dealing and police later caught several more students with prescription drugs and marijuana.

"The negative just really kind of sticks in people's minds," said resident Lisa Jordan.

But a local group is working to change that negative perception.

"The unity committee decided that we're going to take some bad publicity that's happened and turn it into something good," said Kim Shelton with the Cleveland Unity Committee.

The volunteer group is selling bumper stickers. For five bucks, you can show the world, 'I heart Cleveland, Texas.'

"I want them to know that we are a sweet little town. We love our children. We're good people," said Shelton.

The group has sold more than 53 bumper stickers in just a couple of days. This towing company bought dozens to put on its trucks.

But even as people all around town press on their new bumper stickers, some wonder if they will make a difference?

"If people have already made up their minds, it's going to take a lot to change it," resident Carolyn McGee said.

"It should help. It wouldn't hurt, that's for sure," Jordan said.

You can pick up one of the bumper stickers at city hall or the local civic center.

We worked on this story with our Houston Community Newspaper partner, The Cleveland Advocate.

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