Nandina kicks off first local National Night Out event

The Nandina Street Neighborhood Watch Group turned out Saturday night for a neighborhood barbecue as part of the National Night Out program.

Normally, National Night Out is held on the first Tuesday of August, and Neighborhood Watch groups around Linn County, including Albany, Scio, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Gates, Millersburg and Berlin Road, participated.

They had a mix of individual neighborhoods getting together and communitywide events, said Linn County Sheriff’s Community Services Specialist Jo Ann McQueary, who helps coordinate the events.

Locally, the Mountain Shadows Neighborhood Watch has held summer barbecues in the past, but Sweet Home Police Department is planning to begin making National Night Out a regular annual event throughout the city.

“It just generates awareness and lets communities know people are alert, concerned about their safety, watchful and have a good strong tie to law enforcement,” McQueary said.

“What National Night Out is doing is getting out to neighborhoods and getting neighborhoods together to make a presence, to show your neighborhood that you’re here and that you want to make it safer,” said Gina Riley, Sweet Home Police Department’s new community services specialist. She worked with the Nandina group, which includes the area from Ninth Avenue to 15th Avenue, to kick the program off on a small scale this year.

Next year, she hopes to use a communitywide barbecue, with fun things for kids to do, on National Night Out spurring local Neighborhood Watch barbecues and a communitywide neighborhood walk later in the week, “a weeklong presentation of people taking back their communities and neighborhoods,” she said.

Sweet Home has six Neighborhood Watch groups on the books, Riley said. During the recent Public Safety Fair, nine people expressed interest in creating groups.

That probably would represent five new groups, she said. The groups are useful in any neighborhood, even neighborhoods that do not “need” them. Every neighborhood has different issues, Riley said, and the groups can help address them.

She also is interested in discussing a spinoff Business Watch group, a new program linked to Neighborhood Watch, and connecting the businesses to the residents in the neighborhoods behind them.

For more information about Neighborhood Watch, contact Riley at the Sweet Home Police Department, 367-5181.