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Support shown for Neighborhood Watch

by Tom Chillemi

Some Urbanna residents are concerned that idle teens need structure, especially in the summer time.

A recent series of burglaries sparked the idea of forming a Neighborhood Watch in Urbanna. More than a dozen people attended a recent Neighborhood Watch organizational meeting, group coordinator Bill Shuman of Urbanna told the Urbanna Town Council at Monday’s regular monthly meeting. He added that another five or six people are interested in helping.

Shuman said there is concern teens are hanging out after dark in town parks.

The parks close at dusk, said interim town administrator Holly Gailey, who noted that a sign was stolen seven days after it was erected. “There are a lot of concerns at Waterman’s Park.”

Middlesex Sheriff David Bushey said on Tuesday his office would provide support for a Neighborhood Watch program if it is formed. “Because the town dissolved the police services agreement, this is a great approach to having some type of added security, and our office will support it,” he said.

The county curfew for youths under the age of 18, is 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Mondays through Fridays; and 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, said Sheriff Bushey. The complete curfew ordinance, along with other county ordinances, is online at http://www.co.middlesex.va.us.

Since the town does not have a police services agreement with Middlesex County, the sheriff’s office does not enforce town ordinances that are specifically for the town. However, county ordinances where law enforcement is involved does apply to both the county and town, noted Sheriff Bushey.

Sheriff Bushey said there are guidelines to be followed by Neighborhood Watch, and volunteers should call police if they see something suspicious.

Urbanna resident Bob Calves told council that before the town gets into a Neighborhood Watch program, there should be a public hearing. “The idea of a limited number of citizens setting up a Neighborhood Watch without the town having a debate on it is bad,” said Calves.

Activities needed
Council member Barbara Hartley said, “Teenagers need a place to go to hold hands. I don’t want to close down this whole town and not allow teenagers to have their social time and to have their quiet spots.”

Hartley also said a Neighborhood Watch program may be a good thing “to make sure things don’t get out of hand.”

She suggested the town provide activities for youths. “It concerns me that we have taken away so many of the things that they should be able to do after dusk.”

The town should have tennis courts and basketball courts with lights, said Hartley. “We need to give them something positive to do. I suggest basketball and tennis might be a good place to start and we should look into putting those things in the park.”

Shuman, in a Letter to the Editor that appears on Page A2, asks that young people tell him what they would like to have in Urbanna.

posted 07.17.2013

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