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Next block watch organizational meeting is tonight

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Meeting begins at 7 p.m.

By Linda Ireland

A handful of residents attended a block watch organizational meeting April 5.

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But the low attendance didn’t discourage organizers who plan a second meeting Monday, April 26. The meeting, like the first one, will be at 7 p.m. at Hodgenville City Hall.

Guest speaker Bryce Shumate, media relations officer for Radcliff City Police, said block watches have been successful in reducing vandalism, break-ins and thefts across the country. Crime rates have been lowered as much as 50 percent in communities sporting a “You are being watched” sign.

He described several of the 37 block watches in Radcliff including a senior citizen’s center, merchant area and two mobile home parks.

In the block watch program, residents aren’t asked to patrol the neighborhood or confront suspicious characters, he said. “Just pay attention.”

 “You are actually the eyes and ears of the police department,” he said. “Across the country, we do not have enough police to be everywhere you need us to be. We have got to stick together and protect one another these days.”

“If something doesn’t look right, call the police,” he added.

Hodgenville resident Stanley Goodin said he was interested in starting a block watch on his street since there were many transients living there.

“In my neighborhood, you never know who lives next door,” Goodin said.

Although the meeting was primarily for city residents, a pair of Magnolia residents attended to voice concern about their neighborhood around the old Magnolia Elementary School. The school has been unoccupied since Magnolia and Buffalo schools were consolidated to form Abraham Lincoln Elementary School four years ago.

The grounds and building are maintained by the school system and neighborhood children utilize the old playground equipment.

Mike and Tammy Baldwin described their efforts to dissuade children from hanging around the old school building after dark. There is no outside lighting and there have been incidents of drug use and vandalism on the grounds and break-ins.

Tammy Baldwin said they’ve even shined a spotlight on late-night loiters and asked them to leave.

They’ve already spoken to neighbors who are interested in forming a watch group.

Lt. Steve Johnson, a 30-year veteran of Hodgenville City Police and the block watch liaison, said the Kentucky Crime Prevention Coalition funding would provide signs and pamphlets to any citizens wishing to start a block watch.

“If you’re that interested, we’ll find a way to get you started down there,” he said.

The city received a $1,000 grant to organize two block watch groups and sustain them for a year. The grant covers signage and pamphlets. Grant writer Chris Jackson said the funding was primarily for city watches but does not prohibit officers from establishing county groups. Once the groups are established, state or county officers can begin working with them.

“It really doesn’t cost any more (to start others) once the first groups are established,” Jackson said.

Two city council members – Bonni Clark and Wally Sparks – attended the meeting.

If you are interested in participating in a block watch program or need more information, contact Johnson through dispatch at 358-3013 or e-mail him at steve133@windstream.net.