Victoria McNeal, president of the Riverdale Neighborhood Association and fellow neighborhood activist Lynn LaMance, of the Five Oaks neighborhood, patrol the alley between W. Hudson and Marathon streets in Dayton. The two women pick up trash, report open vacant structures, paint over graffiti and try to get property owners to take care of their property. STAFF Byron Stirsman Byron Stirsman
Photo: Byron Stirsman
Photo: Byron Stirsman

Women fighting to clean up Dayton neighborhood win award

Victoria McNeal and Lynn LaMance, both of Dayton, were highlighted this month in Dayton Daily News stories about five mysterious deaths of women whose bodies were found in yards and alleys of neighborhoods off North Main Street in Dayton.

RELATED: The deaths of five women in Dayton linked by drugs, possible foul play

“We are going to give them the Jo Columbro Environmental Award, which we hope will help them with the work they are doing in their communities,” said Susan Hesselgesser, league executive director. “These women are a ray of hope (and) maybe our award will lead to more support for them in the future.”

McNeal and LaMance patrol the neighborhood and alleyways, picking up trash, reporting open vacant buildings that need boarded, painting over graffiti, and talking to prostitutes about getting help for drug addiction. LaMance regularly emails property owners about dilapidated buildings needing repaired.

RELATED: Vacant houses add to blight, slow recovery efforts

“I saw the vacancy and I saw the blight. I kept looking for someone to do something,” said LaMance. “I looked around at the city, then I looked around at my neighborhood association. And I didn’t see anybody doing anything. So I said I can do these things.”

The Dayton Daily News investigated the deaths of five women, four of whom were found within blocks of each other on Ernst, Hudson and Norman avenues, and the fifth on Superior Avenue, between June 2017 and January 2018. The coroner declared three of them to be homicides, one an overdose and one an undetermined cause of death. Dayton Police continue to investigate and Crime Stoppers has offered a reward for information .

RELATED PHOTOS: The bodies of five women. Four found in a drug-infested neighborhood. Dayton struggles for answers

The League will honor McNeal and LaMance at its annual Dangerous Dames of Dayton fundraiser, which will be held at 6 p.m. tonight at the NCR Country Club, 4435 Dogwood Trail Kettering.

This year the Dangerous Dames award was given to Deborah Feldman, president and chief executive of Dayton Children’s Hospital and former Montgomery County Administrator, and Lucinda Williams Adams, an Olympic gold medalist and retired teacher and administrator for Dayton Public Schools.

More stories by Lynn Hulsey

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