Anchor Point Neighborhood Watch talks crime, community

The Anchor Point Neighborhood Watch committee gathered with local citizens at the Anchor Point Senior Center for its third meeting this year to discuss ways to re-forge and strengthen community ties and combat the tiresome presence of crime within the town and outlying areas.

Among those present at the Sept. 20 meeting were committee members Nona Safra, who is also on the Anchor Point Senior Center Board of Directors, and Shana Baxter, who moderated the meeting. Also present were Elizabeth Diament from the office of Rep. Paul Seaton and Alaska State House District 31 Republican candidate Sarah Vance from Homer. No representatives from the Alaska State Troopers were present at this latest meeting, though they have appeared at other gatherings.

Baxter gave the opening remarks at the meeting with a call for community members to come together and share their skills and knowledge in order to make the Neighborhood Watch an effective means of combating and lessening the effects of crime in the area.

“We’re basically a bunch of pods in our community and we’re not working well together,” Baxter said. “If people start sharing their abilities, more of us can work well.”

Diament followed with news about a $75,000 3-E grant available now through the state that can help provide funding for community patrol and neighborhood watch groups. The whole state, excepting Anchorage, is eligible to apply for a portion of this grant. The focus for the meeting was what Baxter called “filling in the target”’ by way of identifying strategic areas for localized watch groups, pinpointing target neighborhoods within Anchor Point that experience the most isolation and crime, and giving community members the opportunity to get to know one another and rebuild ties that may have fallen by the wayside. The target neighborhoods that were discussed included North Fork Road, Milo Fritz Avenue, Old Sterling Highway, Cottonwood Lane and Tall Tree Avenue.

It is the goal of the Anchor Point Neighborhood Watch to not only monitor crime within the community but also to look out for the elderly, veterans, youth and residents who, for various reasons, leave their homes or the state for extended periods of time. Some of the main concerns that were voiced were instances of theft, trespassing and vagrancy that occur, especially in the more remote areas. Siphoning of fuel and petty theft are common incidents, as is the discovery of squatters living in vacant homes.

“If you see something that’s out of place and you know someone is gone for the winter, say something,” Safra said. “This is where we talk about having a neighborhood again and knowing our neighbors. Then we can help prevent things from being soft targets.”

Meeting attendees were able to add their names and phone numbers to a list for the creation of a phone tree that local citizens can use to call their neighbors in case of emergency, to stay connected, or for aid or information regarding ongoing or potential incidents. Baxter expanded on the idea of the neighborhood watch’s goal of “filling in the target” by organizing a map of Anchor Point and its outlying areas as well as of each neighborhood and appointing a spokesperson for each neighborhood.

“What we have to do is form a group again,” Baxter said. “Our goal … is for people to make a phone tree, to talk to each other … to have a neighborhood again.”

The Anchor Point Neighborhood Watch needs more volunteers to help realize their efforts to make Anchor Point a better and safer community again. The committee also discussed putting together a regular newsletter and broadcasting the meetings on Facebook Live for those who are unable to attend. The next meeting for the Anchor Point Neighborhood Watch will be held 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the VFW Post 10221 on Milo Fritz Avenue. Topics at the future meeting will include expansion on items discussed during the September meeting.

A bulletin board describes watch areas at the Neighborhood Watch meeting on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 at the senior center in Anchor Point, Alaska. (Photo by Delcenia Cosman)

A bulletin board describes watch areas at the Neighborhood Watch meeting on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 at the senior center in Anchor Point, Alaska. (Photo by Delcenia Cosman)