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Neighborhood mixes fun, business in crime fight

One Hood River neighborhood is taking to the streets in an effort to fight against car prowls and other crimes.

On Friday, citizens and business owners in the Heights commercial core and surrounding residential areas will gather on Pine Street for a Block Party. The kickoff for a Neighborhood Watch program will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. and the roadway between 10th and 11th streets will be closed to traffic during that time.

Those planning to attend the barbecue/potluck are asked to bring their own chair and favorite food to share. More than 20 local businesses have donated prizes that will be given away during a special drawing and other activities are planned.

Because the event is expected to draw a large crowd, organizer Marty Knowles asks that participants leave alcohol at home and be careful not to trample landscaping in yards lining the roadway. He said the gathering is primarily planned for people in Hood River’s new “Zone 9” but other city residents are also welcome.

“Neighbors are friends you don’t know yet; if we take the time to get to know each other better then this will work,” said Knowles, who will have signup sheets available for citizens interested in joining a Neighborhood Watch effort.

Both Knowles and Community Resource Officer Aaron Jubitz believe that taking proactive action will greatly reduce problems in the section of Hood River tied for first place in overall crime.

“This is an excellent opportunity for this neighborhood to take ownership,” said Jubitz. “When people living here get to be friends they’ll tend to look out for each other more than they would for a stranger.”

Jubitz encouraged Knowles to organize a Block Party during a community meeting about Zone 9 that was held two weeks ago. During the past year Jubitz has mapped out 10 zones in Hood River and 16 in Cascade Locks. He has researched two years of crime data for each of those areas, with the results of that study showing that, in Hood River, Zone 9 and Zone 2, encompassing the downtown area are currently ranked first in overall crime at 16 percent respectively. For Zone 9, Jubitz listed 265 crime reports for the last two years, with theft and criminal mischief the two most common problems.

Following the recent conclusion of the eight Cascade Locks meetings, Jubitz said there may be an effort forming to organize a Neighborhood Watch program in that city also.

He will continue with his Hood River meetings through the end of August but said the forums to date have already yielded a surprising result.

“Although people are concerned about the ‘big’ crimes it’s the everyday annoyances, such as speeding, that really gets their ire up,” said Jubitz.

Once the zone meetings have concluded, Jubitz said both verbal and written comments submitted by residents and business owners will be reviewed for the five most common concerns by law enforcement officials. Then partnerships will be formed with interested citizen groups to set a course of action.

For more information about the Zone 9 Block Party call Knowles at 387-2966. Jubitz is available to answer calls about Neighborhood Watch at 386-3942.

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Block Party

* WHEN: Friday, 5 to 9 p.m.

* WHERE: People will gather on Pine Street. The roadway between 10th and 11th will be closed in the Heights of Hood River.

* WHAT: The event will serve as a kickoff for the new Neighborhood Watch Program being formed to help fight car prowls and overall crime.

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