Feb 10

Fonda Begins Neighborhood Watch

February 9, 2010 By Amanda Whistle, The Leader-Herald

Fonda, NY – The village is a relatively safe place, according to Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Krug.  Krug and village neighborhood watch coordinator Mark Scott want to keep it that way.  The two organizers hosted the first neighborhood watch meeting in the village Monday night at the village firehouse on Route 5.  Both said the neighborhood watch group is important because it gives citizens the tools to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement, brings the community together and engages youths.

Paul Krug, right, Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy and law enforcement liaison for the Fonda neighborhood watch, answers questions while coordinator Mark Scott, left, and his wife, Susan Scott, look on at the first Neighborhood Watch meeting in the village Monday at the Fonda firehouse.

“It’s not a group of vigilantes,” said Krug, the law enforcement liaison for neighborhood watch groups in the county.  Krug said the group will host programs that will teach residents about “target hardening,” or how to make their homes less of a target for crime, CPR classes, and what to look for if one witnesses a crime.  In the summer, the group would like to have barbecues and start opening up the meetings to be social gatherings as well as educational.

Scott said he’s seen the people in the community become less involved and said the village used to be friendlier.  “I’d love to see it go back to a community,” Scott said. “I walk every day and there isn’t a person I don’t know and it should be like that [for everyone.]”  Krug, who recently moved to the area, said the group can be used to welcome new residents.

“It’s networking with your neighbors,” Krug said. “It gives you an opportunity to meet more people.”  “In general, we don’t have a high crime rate,” said village resident David Stone, who was at the meeting.  “When I lived on Long Island, you go out and half the time you don’t know what you’re going to find.”  “It’s the stupid little things that do happen here,” Scott said.

Interim village Volunteer Fire Department Chief Donald Wagoner attended the meeting and said he hopes the group can get more people in the village involved.  Though the first group meeting didn’t garner much of a turnout, Krug and Scott said they understand people are busy and some are working two jobs to make ends meet.  “When it’s something you care about, you can find the time,” said Susan Scott, Mark Scott’s wife.  The volunteer fire department hasn’t been able to keep a lot of volunteers over the past decade, having gone from 45 volunteers in the 1990s to about a dozen today.

“The problem with the community is that people are so busy and they don’t want to [commit,]” Wagoner said.  “This is one of the safest places and we want to keep it that way,” Susan Scott said.  The village will hold monthly neighborhood watch meetings every second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. in the village firehouse.

Amanda Whistle covers Montgomery County. She can be reached at montco@leaderherald.com.

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