POLK COUNTY -- Neighbors in Dallas, Monmouth and Independence are getting together to strengthen their communities while making a statement against crime.
National Night Out will be celebrated all night long on Tuesday, Aug. 7. It's become a community tradition in Monmouth-Independence. A variety of activities are planned, all with the same basic goal -- to educate people about crime prevention and inspire neighbors to look out for one another.
"There will be something for everyone including entertainment and refreshments," said Neighborhood Watch Communications Coordinator Grace Sanner. "Turn on your porch light, lock your doors and join your Independence and Monmouth neighbors for an evening of fun. In order for the event to be a success we need your participation. This year we are focusing on activities for children of all ages as well as adults," she added.
Events will include a remote control car rally (everyone is invited to bring their own and participate), demonstrations of remote control planes and helicopters, Kid Care I.D., and much more. The YMCA swimming pool at 495 "I" St. will be open that evening as well.
Dallas residents have decided to follow suit. Their effort isn't tied officially with National Night Out, which is actually part of the National Association of Town Watch.
The Dallas effort is being called Neighbors Night Out. However, the idea is still the same, said Judy Bowen of the Polk County Department of Human Services.
"It's a way of building community and getting neighbors out to meet neighbors," she said.
Members of Dallas Action Together have arranged for free swimming by renting the Dallas Aquatic Center from 9 to 10 p.m. during the event.
Information booths and other activities will be held at the new ball fields next to the aquatic center. McGruff the crime dog will be there along with Polk County Master Gardeners.
Independence, in particular, has long had a strong Neighborhood Watch program, Bowen said. She hopes the Neighbors Night Out will help strengthen the program in Dallas.
"We've got the team captains. I think this may bolster it enough to really get it going." she said.
Bowen said this could be the start of something big. "This will be a first. We'll start and go from there."
Sgt. Bob Mason said National Night Out activities in Independence take a lot of effort. But volunteers have jumped in wholeheartedly and are putting together a lot of activities for the Central High School parking lot.
Beginning at 5 p.m., there will be booths featuring youth-related agencies from Central Youth Sports to the YMCA.
"Operation ID" will offer parents a chance to get their kids photographed and fingerprinted. Such information is vital to finding missing children.
Live music is also being planned.
The event will run from 5 to 10 p.m. at Central High School in the west parking lot on 16th street. The Oregon National Guard will be on hand with their "G.I. Johnny."
A dunk tank will provide the chance to help some Monmouth and Independence officials get all wet.
Representatives and vehicles from the Polk County Fire Department No. 1, American Red Cross, Oregon National Guard (maybe even a Black Hawk helicopter), and more.
2001 will mark the 18th year that National Night Out celebrations have been held across the United States, including U.S. territories, cities in Canada and military bases around the world.
More than 9,500 communities hold Block Parties that range from local neighborhood get-togethers to large citywide events that emphasize getting people involved for organized activities in more centralized locations.
"NNO has proven to be an effective, inexpensive and enjoyable program to promote neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships in our fight for a safer nation," said Matt Peskin of the National Association of Town Watch.
The Three-on-Three Outdoor Basketball Tournament will be played Aug. 7 in the Central High School parking lot
. There are three age divisions: 10-13, 14-17 and 18-and-older. The entry fee is $10 per team. Teams are allowed to have up to four players. Games will consist of two 15-minute periods. The entry deadline has been extended to Aug. 3. For more information, call the Independence police at 503-838-1214 or the Monmouth police at 503-838-1109.