Security cameras are operating at Graham Street Park in North Belle Vernon
When Betty Shine-Hill grabs hold of an idea – or thinks she's right about something – she refuses to quit until she reaches her goal.
It took two years, but the North Belle Vernon Councilwoman has completed another successful crusade.
In late March, security cameras were installed at Graham Street Park – thanks to thousands of dollars and much labor donated by local businesses and residents.
Shine-Hill launched the effort to place cameras at the park as a means to end vandalism and other problems at the facility.
“For sure, it's a big relief to finally have the cameras in there,” Shine-Hill said. “It's a big weight off of my shoulders. Not just me, though. Everyone involved, everyone that donated, it's a great relief to everyone.”
Shine-Hill said she is aware the cameras won't ensure the end of problems at the park.
“We really want to deter anything that may happen,” she said. “So far, so good.”
Police Chief Jim Bedsworth said he is happy to have the cameras in place.
“I'm sure they're acting as the deterrent they were meant to be,” Bedsworth said. “Without giving too much away, I will say that they are performing as intended, and we view what they capture every day.”
Shine-Hill is hopeful talk of selling the park to a developer has subsided.
“Anyone that knows me, they know that I'm all about the kids,” she said. “When people heard the talk of selling the park, they really stepped up.”
Borough council President Dennis Simboli, who spearheaded an effort to sell the park, is pleased with Shine-Hill's effort.
“After being down at the park and watching how the cameras are operating, I'm glad I hesitated on the plan to sell the park and (to) go with the cameras,” Simboli said.
“Any criminal mischief that goes on, these cameras are going to allow us to bring the people right in and charge them.”
Simboli said the cameras perform at a high level.
“It's amazing how close we can zoom in with those things,” he said. “It's amazing what they're going to be able to show.”
Simboli predicted the cameras will be tested once schools let out for the summer.
“I can say that it's definitely working now, though,” Shine-Hill said. “We're going to be adding signs warning against loitering near the gates and all along the sidewalks, too. There have been a lot of kids down there now, though, and we haven't had any issues.”
Shine-Hill said she's glad many who were against the idea ended up backing the plan, including the mayor.
“Oh yes, he was against it,” Shine-Hill said of retiring Mayor Ed Lyons. “Then he got a $1,000 donation from someone he knows to put towards the cameras. He eventually came around.”
Shine-Hill thanked Julia Evans of Belle Vernon Borough for starting the donation drive with a $20 gift.
“There were so many residents that donated,” Shine-Hill said. “We were going door-to-door.”
Shine-Hill said the project wouldn't have been possible without local businesses and organizations.
Shine-Hill the cameras were purchased from Security Systems of America in Pittsburgh, which installed them for free.
“This park is for the kids,” Shine-Hill said. “Without those people stepping up and helping us with their donations, we wouldn't have the cameras. It helps us keep the park nice for everyone to enjoy.”
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.