People, Places & Events

     
   

KC crime watch gets patrol car
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

PRAIRIEVILLE–It’s the pilot program for Kaufman County.
A citizens on patrol (COP) group took possession of its first patrol car from the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday.
It’s taken three years, but Terry Thomas says it was worth the time and the effort.
“I started this Crime Watch three years ago. I was determined this crime watch would not die,” Thomas told The Monitor.
He keeps a list of 90 names and telephone numbers on his desk of those who have attended one of Prairieville’s many crime watch meetings, and calls on them frequently with news and information.
“We just began to meet and talk about crime and get information off the Internet,” Thomas said, describing some of the behind the scenes work that built the crime watch group into a committed citizens group.
Thirty are active, he says. And of that number, 16 have completed an intensive course of training, including a 13-week citizens course on just how the Sheriff’s department does its job.
“We went with a SWAT team and the canine corps. It was really an eye-opener,” he said. “We understand procedures now.”
A dozen of those are now on their last certification requirement – to ride along with a patrolman for four hours.
Four members have met all requirements and are ready to use the new patrol car to patrol Precinct 4, as the “eyes and ears” of the Sheriff’s department.
“We’re going to patrol, write reports, recognize criminal activity, call it in and maintain a perimeter,” Thomas summarized.
“We are going to drive the criminals out of the community,” he said.
Prior to getting the car, the crime watch group were instrumental in closing down several drug houses, Thomas said, just by being alert and calling in the suspicious activity when it was happening.
Thomas credits Kaufman Sheriff David Byrnes for the award of a patrol car to the group.
“Once he saw we were serious about the crime watch, he started educating himself and us and became convinced of the value of the program,” Thomas said.
“I’d like to see 100 citizens on patrol groups. It sure would make my job easier,” Byrnes said.
The car, dedicated to the program, was obtained in a drug seizure and cost the county about $700 to outfit.
The group will be supervised by Lt. Troy Graham. He will be the liaison and review the patrol’s daily reports.
Attention to these reports will keep the department informed of activity within the patrol’s territory, and could offer key information in other ongoing investigations.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Deller is also involved in the program, happily providing a secure place to keep the patrol car and lending his support to the program.
“I am so thrilled,” Deller told The Monitor.
“I’ve been involved in every crime watch in Precinct 4. It’s a great idea for citizens to get involved to prevent crime in their neighborhoods,” he said.
“They’ve rewritten all the (citizens on patrol) procedures to fit the county and that will be good for other crime watch groups to build on,” he added.
Citizens on Patrol isn’t law enforcement. Its members have no special authority and carry no weapons.
But, they are armed with knowledge, a system of reporting, cameras and the backing of the Kaufman County’s Sheriff’s Department.
“In these days citizens have to become as aggressive as the petty criminals that are gnawing away at our sense of security,” Thomas said. “We will be watching and we will drive them out of this community.”

Ace Hardware pitches in for baseball
Special to The Monitor
MABANK–”Play Ball.”
For many, these summertime words are commonplace at ball diamonds and in backyards, heralding the start of a game of America’s favorite pastime.
But for children living in underserved communities, “striking out” has nothing to do with baseball.
“An astounding number of kids never get to experience the crack of the bat or that ‘slap’ the ball makes when it hits a glove,” said marketing director Margie Crawford of Groom & Son’s Ace Hardware and Lumber.
“We were so happy to find out there was something we could do to change that,” she added.
For 2006, Ace Hardware has teamed up with “Pitch In For Baseball,” an organization that collects new and “nearly new” youth baseball equipment and redistributes it to areas where it’s needed most.
Groom & Son’s Ace Hardware and Lumber on State Highway 198 in Mabank will serve as a drop-off point for equipment now through the end of September.
Gloves, helmets, bats and any other items in good working order will be accepted.
Groom & Son’s will handle packaging up the items and sending them to “Pitch In For Baseball,” where the gear will be sent where it’s needed most.
“A lack of equipment in no way represents an absence of passion when it comes to America’s pastime,” Crawford said.
“Pitch In For Baseball” gives kids an opportunity to play ball despite their lack of equipment. It’s a fantastic organization, and our store is proud to ‘pitch in’ and lend a hand,” Crawford said.
In 2005 alone, “Pitch In For Baseball” collected enough equipment to provide for hurricane affected regions in the Gulf Coast including New Orleans, Biloxi, Miss. and Mobile, Ala.
Communities around the world in Poland, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic have also benefitted by the program.
“If everyone in the Cedar Creek Lake area brought in just one piece of equipment they weren’t using anymore, imagine the number of underprivileged kids who could experience a pop fly or a base hit. We’re especially in need of gloves, the most basic piece of baseball equipment,” Crawford said.
More information on “Pitch In For Baseball” is available at www.pitchinforbaseball.org.

New sign for Becker Community
Special to The Monitor
BECKER COMMUNITY–The old is gone, the new is here.
After an old, weather-beaten Becker Community Center sign blew down last year (General Bill Becker says some have accused him of knocking it down), the Becker Community Association has purchased a new metal sign to advertise community events and post important notices.
Many people have participated in the building and placement of the new advertising medium, yet another “sign of the times” in this growing community east of Kaufman.
Artlington architect Keith Crouch drew up the plans with Cates Steel of Kaufman and R&R Screen Process of Kemp contributing materials.
Labor was provided by BCA President Bill Lyons, Sammy Truell, John Kiser and Grady Carroll, all of Becker.
The sign can be viewed in front of the Becker Community Center at the intersection of Farm-to-Markets 2860 and 1895.