Neighborhood Watch Honored

Block Watch party turns protection into recreation and gets new sign to recognize ‘outstanding’ turnout

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Andy Towle/Roundup

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, block captain Bobbi Hlavacek and Police Chief Don Engler showed up Wednesday to celebrate the installation of a sign recognizing the neighborhood’s winning effort to look out for one another.

So often today, people say they do not know their neighbors. But a block of homeowners was recognized Wednesday for their participation in a block party last year that got people out of their homes, talking, eating, learning and possibly stopping crime in the future.

Homeowners in the 200 and 300 block of East Cedar Lane were honored with a permanent sign for their street by Mayor Kenny Evans and Police Chief Don Engler Wednesday afternoon for their outstanding participation in the 2008 National Night Out event last August.

About 30 residents, or three quarters of the street, attended the block party, which included free music, food, prizes and contests for kids, all held in the center of the street to encourage communication among neighbors, said block captain Bobbi Hlavacek.

“A lot of people don’t know their neighbors, and now we know who belongs here and we watch out for each other,” Hlavacek said.

The annual event celebrated across the country, is a time for residents to go outside their homes, turn on their lights, lock the doors and meet their neighbors, said Kim Becker, organizer and executive assistant with the Payson Police Department. Last year, the PPD received a national award for its overall participation in the event.

The idea is, if you know who your neighbors are, you will be more likely to report suspicious activity to the police, and possibly cut crime in the area.

Hlavacek said she heard about the event from her sister, Becker, and decided she wanted to host an event on her street.

Along with co-captain Rene Brumbaugh, Hlavacek worked on the event for three weeks. She sent out fliers announcing the event and asked odd number addresses to bring desserts and even number addresses to bring appetizers.

Nearly the whole block showed up, and homeowners told Hlavacek afterward that she should do the event again and possibly more than once a year.

Several other blocks around the town held their own block parties, but Hlavacek said she thinks her block was chosen for the award because she turned in all the necessary paperwork, including pictures.

“I encourage everyone to do this, because it was fun and not too much work,” she said.

A permanent sign, made by Ironhorse Signs, which is also located in the neighborhood, was placed out front of Hlavacek’s home.

With a new sense of camaraderie on the block, Hlavacek said she hopes they can work together to get the area picked up.

“It would nice to get a neighborhood cleaning party,” she said. The block has already had two signs placed on the street to warn motorists to slow down.

Becker said she wished more neighborhoods had their passion.

But there is still plenty of time to sign up for 2009 National Night Out in August.

Call (928) 474-5242, ext. 209 to sign up your street.

This year during the block parties, a police officer will stop and visit with neighbors.

The Payson Police Department is also looking for areas to be a part of Project 365. If you know a problem area that needs attention, or if you want to start a Neighborhood Watch program, call the above number.

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