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Cities Plan &Quot;Night Out&Quot;

Focus is crime prevention, safety awareness

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- Residents of Monmouth and Independence are invited to "take back the night" -- and have a good time -- during National Night Out on Aug. 2.

The event will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the east parking lot of Central High School, and will feature a barbecue dinner and a number of activities designed to increase awareness of crime prevention and safety.

Several law enforcement and emergency agencies in Polk County will take part in the evening.

"We'd like people to know they can make a difference in the community," said Grace Sanner, event chairwoman. "We can work with the police and fire departments -- people don't have to sit back, throw their hands up and think there's nothing they can do."

National Night Out was originated in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, a crime-prevention organization, as a high-profile event that would help citizens recognize the need for community policing.

The event takes place every Aug. 2 and has grown to involve more than 34 million people in 10,000-plus communities nationwide, in Canada and on military bases worldwide.

The traditional 'lights on' and front-porch vigils remain a staple of NNO, but activities have expanded to include block parties, cookouts and safety fairs.

Activities scheduled for the regional celebration include demonstrations of life-saving skills by members of the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT), a bicycle safety clinic by the Monmouth Police Department, and horse rides for children by the Polk County Mounted Posse.

Dinners are $3 and include chicken, a roll, potato salad, corn and a beverage. Participants will also have the opportunity to win a scenic airplane ride and other prizes.

The event is being coordinated by the Independence Police Department and the Polk County Citizen Corp Council, and funded through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Independence's Neighborhood Watch Program.

For more information: Lonni Nicoll/Polk CERT at 503-606-0483; Independence Police Sgt. Rick Igou at 503-838-1214; or Grace Sanner at 503-838-5681.

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