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SEMINAR Training block watch leaders



Published: Fri, November 5, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



The seminar teaches block watch leaders how to create action, not just words.

By ROGER G. SMITH

CITY HALL REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The same strength that sustains block watches -- leadership by neighborhood residents -- also can be a weakness.

Block watch leaders don't always have the communication skills to make the most of such groups, Veronica Foster said. She is coordinator of Weed and Seed, the South Side crime-fighting and neighborhood improvement program.

A training session next week open to all city residents aims at providing the training that block watch and other group leaders need.

The Tri-State Regional Community Policing Institute will have a training seminar focusing on better group communication and preparedness for local emergencies. The session is from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Martin Luther Lutheran Church, 420 Clearmount Drive on the city's South Side.

Those who want to attend should call Foster at (330) 788-5439 or send a fax at (330) 788-6793 by Monday afternoon. The U.S. Department of Justice is sponsoring the training.

Getting action

Block watch meetings serve as a place for residents to vent about problems. The gatherers sometimes don't advance beyond that to action, however, Foster said.

The seminar should help block watch leaders learn how to better direct their meetings so the results are more than just words, she said.

Neighborhood problem solving remains the best technique for improving quality of life, Foster said. The seminar should help residents better capitalize on that, she said.

"It's a strategy that works," Foster said. "That's the only way you're going to be able to solve a problem."

The training is part of Weed and Seed's continuing efforts to help the South Side sustain itself once the program is gone, she said.

Emergency preparedness

The session also will touch on emergency preparedness.

People need to know how to be prepared for a local emergency or even a terrorist attack, Foster said. The federal government estimates that it will take three days after a disaster to get assistance to residents in urban settings, she said.

The idea is for block watch leaders to take strategies for such situations back to their neighborhoods and spread the word.

rgsmith@vindy.com




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