Residents of some city neighborhoods are asking the community to take part in neighborhood watch groups across the city and bringing attention to the groups, starting Friday night, by passing out red ribbons to be displayed on vehicles and private property to send messages to would-be criminals and those selling illegal drugs that they aren't welcome.
The first red ribbon was displayed on the private property of Kelly Garrett in the 1400 block of Scott Street. Although she wasn't able to be in attendance due to an illness, Garrett apparently welcomed the opportunity to be the first to allow her property to be used for this purpose, according to Ron James, president of the Williamsport/Lycoming County Crime Commission.
James, using a bullhorn, said the turnout was inspiring - especially to see young and old alike at the kick-off.
Twelve-year-old Michael Gair, who lives on nearby Anne Street, stood watch at the table where the red ribbons were distributed.
For Alfred and Betty Records, of 1410 Scott St., any kind of public information campaign would be beneficial. Records said he's going on 35 years living on the street, which has been the location of two fatal shootings in the same rental unit just a block away.
Another couple, living at the corner of Scott and Cemetery streets, took ribbons and planned to display them.
"Drug dealers - leave!" Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said. "Batman and Robin, eat your heart out, we have one heck of a team," Campana said.
He was referencing James, Sally Wiegand, a long-time advocate of Neighborhood Watch groups; Jeff Reeder, president of the Williamsport Citizens Corps Council, City Council representatives, including President Bill Hall, and Councilmen N. Clifford "Skip" Smith and Randall J. Allison, who were in attendance, and Maynard JR Homler, coordinator of the Scott Street Neighborhood Watch. Police officers and city Bureau of Fire were also standing by.
"This is a very worthwhile cause," Wiegand said. Over the last two months, four neighborhood watch groups have formed, she said. "People are coming out, young and old alike," she said. "This is needed in our city and needed to drive dealers out of Williamsport and say we don't want you and get our city back to the way it was."
"We have a good police department and we need to work together to get this done," Homler said.