VINTON–Vinton celebrated National Night Out on August 4 along with over 16,000 other communities around the region, the nation, and the world.
Members of the Vinton Police Department and Vinton Town Council along with Neighborhood Watch groups and citizens of the town gathered at the Vinton Farmers’ Market from 6:30 to 8:30 for free Vito’s pizza and free ice cream from Homestead Creamery.
There was dancing on the market stage to tunes from DJ Scott Giles, who has become a member of the Vinton police force since last year’s event. And there was lots of conversation.
Mayor Brad Grose, Vice Mayor Matt Hare, Councilwoman Sabrina Weeks, and Councilman Doug Adams cancelled the regular first Tuesday council meeting to meet with constituents informally on the market.
Many members of the police department, the Sheriff’s office, the Vinton First Aid Crew, and the Vinton Fire Department were on hand to talk with area residents about their concerns as well, including Volunteer Fire Chief Richard Oakes and Assistant Chief Wayne Guffey from the First Aid Crew.
The town staff was represented by Town Manager Chris Lawrence, Public Works Director Gary Woodson, Special Programs Director Mary Beth Layman, Assistant Public Works Director Joey Hiner, Town Administrative Assistant and Clerk Susan Johnson, Human Resources specialist Donna Collins, and Julie Tucei from Planning and Zoning, among others.
Justin Davison and Keith Liles represented the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce. Chris McCarty, president of the Vinton Breakfast Lions Club, attended, along with Mike Stovall, Director of Transportation with Roanoke County schools.
National Night Out has been observed across the nation since 1984, traditionally on the first Tuesday in August, representing America’s “night out against crime.” The purpose is to encourage community and public safety partnerships, because a “connected community is a safer community.”
Many in Vinton said they came to show their support for the local police in a year when there has been much ado involving police officers across the nation. While in actuality the crime rate is falling, heightened attention from the media often gives the impression that criminals are on a rampage in America.
Vinton Police Lieutenant Mark Vaught, Police Chief Ben Cook, and Mayor Grose thanked both the citizens who took time to attend the National Night Out and the police officers and other first responders who were present. They thanked the Neighborhood Watch groups from the different areas of Vinton such as Gladetown, Midway, and Cleveland Avenue who stopped by, also.
“You are our eyes and ears in the neighborhoods,” said Mayor Grose. “I express our appreciation on behalf of Town Council.”
The annual event is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and involves citizens, law enforcement, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations, and local officials. Last year an estimated thirty-eight million individuals in the United States, Canada, and on military bases around the world participated.
The stated goals of National Night Out are to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; to generate support for and participation in local anti-crime programs; to strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and to send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back against crime.