The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

October 21, 2013

Neighborhood watch group meets in historic district


PINETOPS — A neighborhood watch group in Tarboro Historic District met for the first time Sunday on Battle Avenue. About 20 people came to the meeting.

“It was a good turnout,” said Sarah Peveler, host of the neighborhood watch. “It’s just good for people to get to know each other.”

Rae Kelley agreed.

“It’s really nice to see faces and know that I don’t feel alone,” she said.

After Sunday’s meeting, she said she would feel comfortable knocking on the door of any of her neighbors and asking for their help if needed.

“It opened up the lines of communication and that’s a good thing,” said Patti Opacinch. “That’s something people have lost is neighborhoods. That’s gone by the wayside.”

One of the main things accomplished at Sunday’s meeting was the start of a “phone tree” listing the names, addresses and phone numbers of neighborhood members.

“Hopefully, everybody’s exchanging phone numbers,” said Ann Marie Vandenhurk, who attended the meeting with her husband Jeroen and their 6-year-old son Martin. “If we see something [suspicious], we can go ahead and give them a ring.”

Looking out for suspicious activity was a primary topic of discussion at Sunday’s meeting.

“I hope it will just encourage people to go ahead and make that call. You’ll know that if you make a call and the police come check it out, your neighbors aren’t going to get mad,” said Rhonda Krebs.

Sgt. Al Braxton of the Tarboro Police Department advised the watch group to avoid “crimes of opportunity” and encouraged them to report suspicious activity.

Along those lines, Pat Scott cautioned neighborhood members not to pack their suitcases in their cars the night before going out of town, which could invite criminal activity. Scott said she is “tickled to death” about the formation of the neighborhood watch.

“I had two break-ins within 11 months, in 2010 and 2011,” she said.

Scott has lived in the neighborhood since 1977 and started a “community crime watch” in the neighborhood in 1978. She said the watch fizzled out as old neighbors moved out and new neighbors moved in.

To Braxton, the formation of the neighborhood watch demonstrates the group’s dedication to the community.

“You’ve got to have what I say is a love for Tarboro (to form a neighborhood watch),” Braxton said. “This is one of the neighborhoods where everybody cares about Tarboro.”

Kelley also lauded the group of neighbors.

“There’s not a bad apple in the bunch,” she said.

Other items of discussion at Sunday’s meeting were placing signs in the neighborhood and forming a partnership with Martin Middle School, which is located within the neighborhood, in the future.

Peveler said the group would meet again to discuss “next steps.”

“Y’all are doing the first step,” Braxton said at Sunday’s meeting. “This is the first step – getting everybody together and talking about it.”