Hundreds come out for 26th National Night Out against CrimePublished 9:18am Wednesday, August 5, 2009
By KATHIE HEMPEL
Niles Daily Star
BUCHANAN – Tuesday night in Buchanan was a multi-community affair as children of all ages gathered and mingled at the McCoy Creek Park in recognition of America’s 26th Annual National Night Out Against Crime.
Although no one can remember exactly the year Buchanan became the place to be, some remembered the time in 1992 when about 15 people took hot dogs and other goodies down to the park to try to get local interest in the occasion. The 2009 offering saw estimates of between 400-500 people who came and went during the 6 to 9 p.m. fun-filled event. Many came from Niles and surrounding communities to join in the fun.
More than 150 hotdogs, 20 pizzas supplied by Milano’s and Pizza Hut and four Party Subs from Subway were consumed by the crowd along with a large cake and refreshments.
“The underlying spirit in this community is seen by the number of Buchanan businesses who have donated to make this event possible. Very little is spent from the city’s coffers. The community volunteers and the community responds with appreciation and this terrific turnout,” said Buchanan Chief of Police, William Marx.
Asked about the work of his department in the community Marx was adamant.
“We are no better than the community that supports us. The more help we have the more we can help you have the neighborhoods you want. You call. We’ll come.”
Marx spoke of the Neighborhood Watch Programs facilitated by Officer Mike Troop which are beginning to take hold in his town. One extremely busy Watch group is in the Moccasin Street neighborhood where they had 18 individuals attend their last meeting. Several other groups are beginning to take note including some in the Third and Fourth Street areas of town.
“The communication system we have set up via email has proven very effective. Several incidents have already been reported and it helps us get a good handle on the little stuff too,” Marx said.
This is the only local celebration for the National Night Out Program, in this area, outside of St. Joseph Township where, as Marx understands it, the event is more informational in nature.
In Buchanan it is all about interaction of the various law and emergency services organizations and the community as they share good food and good fun.
Participation in the event has grown to include not only the Buchanan City Police Department, but the Niles City Canine Unit, Berrien County’s Marine Division and Bomb Squad Unit along with its SWAT Team and the Sheriff’s Department.
The Fire Departments from Buchanan City, Buchanan Township and Bertrand Township were all busy with special kid-friendly activities and the Southwest Michigan Community Ambulance Service (SMCAS) was on hand to help out and mingle with the crowd. St. Joseph Medic was also out to support the evening’s festivities.
Buchanan’s City Manager, Meg Mullendore, was on hand to help hand out the food, support the city’s finest and even indulge in some friendly water fights. Mullendore has two young daughters and so she understands first hand the importance of having a safe community in which children can be children.
“National Night Out is a great opportunity for the community to come out and show strength and unity in their support against violence and crime,” Mullendore said.
Sergeant Harvey Burnett of the Buchanan Police took his turn in dunk tank. He heads the community’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.
Fireman Chris Burks and others took turns hosing down the water slide while others like Buchanan Township Fire Chief Tim Jesswein gave little fire fighter wannabees a chance to man the hoses and put out the “fire” in the window of a plywood house.
This event goes way past the simple dispersal of information. Here the community gets the opportunity to play with those who may one day save their lives.
Many came from Niles and surrounding communities to join in the fun.