Night out event aims to create stronger communities, neighborhoods

Aug. 4 event brings block parties to Pocatello

By Sarah Glenn

POCATELLO – Many still remember those halcyon days when street lights were the signal to come home and neighbors all knew each other.

The Housing Authority of the City of Pocatello is trying to recreate that feeling of community with four events Tuesday evening. Block parties will be held at Christensen Courts (711 N. 6th Ave), Portneuf Towers (666 W. Day Street), Maple West (350 W. Maple Street) and McKinley Manor (1050 McKinley Ave.). Each event begins at 7 p.m. and will conclude around 9 p.m. – just after the street lights turn on. Live music, door prizes and refreshments are only a few of the block party features that will be available to anyone in the neighborhood.

“Our biggest goal is to strengthen our communities and become involved in our communities as well,” said Michele Poletti, Executive Assistant for the Housing Authority of the City of Pocatello.

While Potetti has worked hard to bring the night out event to Pocatello for the first time, National Night Out has been a community crime prevention staple for many years across many communities.

The National Association of Town Watch, a non-profit crime prevention organization, has been hosting National Night Out of 32 years. According to the association’s website, “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live.”

Through partnerships with neighborhood watch organizations and local law enforcement, the association has hosted events in more than 16,000 communities.

Each year, National Night Out is recognized across the country on the first Tuesday of August. It is an effort to celebrate and strengthen community which helps in crime prevention.

“We are excited to host these community events” said Sunny Shaw, Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Pocatello. “The housing authority believes in strong communities and staff have worked really hard to create a night for everyone to enjoy.”

While statistical data on crime prevention in close-knit communities is hard to come by, the U.S. Justice Department performed an in-depth analysis of neighborhood watch programs in 2008. They found that, on average, communities that had neighborhood watch programs saw a 16 percent reduction in crime.

However, the organizers of the Pocatello event hope that the fruits of their labors will show up in stories as well as statistics.

“We just want to get the community involved in crime prevention and to watch over each other,” Poletti said. “We hope to bring these communities together.”

Poletti added that even if you are not close to one of these locations, National Night Out is a good excuse to get to know your neighbors.

Housing authority staff, local police and fire departments and city officials will be at each party.

Musical entertainment at Christensen Courts will be provided by Rocky Watson. At Portneuf Towers the Clif Tones will perform. At Maple West, musical entertainment will be provided by As Is. Maple West will also have a bounce house, a book mobile, and a balloon artist. Those at McKinley Manor will enjoy music by Hot Flash. McKinley Manor will also have a bounce house, balloon artist and a fire truck.

Each property is owned by the Pocatello Housing Authority and is used to aid in their mission to provide shelter for low-income, disabled or elderly individuals.

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