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Revived Blairsville Crime Watch group is off to a strong start

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By The Dispatch
Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A standing-room-only crowd packed the Blairsville Borough Council chambers last week for the initial meeting of the town's revived Community Crime Watch program, prompting the group's president, Connie Constantino, to search for a larger site for the next meeting.

She said another Crime Watch meeting is slated for Feb. 28, with the time and location to be determined. That evening's program will include a “Drugs 101” presentation by guest speaker Courtney Hankinson, prevention specialist with the Armstrong, Indiana, Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission. The presentation is expected to include information about local trends in drug problems.

Constantino said she was “overwhelmed” by the turnout at last week's Crime Watch meeting and the large amount of activity on a Facebook page she has established for the group. It can be found by searching for “Blairsville Crime Watch.”

Others who attended the meeting included Kelly Garvin, vice president of the Crime Watch group, and representatives of the Blairsville Police Department, Office In Charge Jill Gaston and Officer David Angelo.

Constantino and Garvin were inspired to relaunch the town's Crime Watch group when they became concerned about used syringes their families encountered while walking along some borough streets.

Constantino said the families began to mark the locations of the syringes with small colored flags similar to those used for marking utility lines — to point out the drug paraphernalia for police and to help prevent pedestrians from being pricked by them.

Constantino said she has provided some flags to the police department so that other residents can request them to mark syringes they may find. She said she also has made pamphlets about the Crime Watch program available at the borough office.

A goal of the group will be for members to be watchful of suspicious incidents in town, including possible drug activity, and relay information about what they've witnessed to police. It was noted the Crime Watch participants should observe only and not try to intervene in any incident.

Constantino said she has other suggestions for ways the Crime Watch group can organize residents to increase pride and enhance safety in town.

She discussed organizing residents to check regularly on elderly neighbors and to gather in wintertime to jointly clear snow from sidewalks in their neighborhoods.

Constantino volunteers with the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District and said she is hoping fellow parents from Blairsville schools will join the Crime Watch group.

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