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Waco starts Community Watch program

A "first" for the small community, it has helped deter crime.

The small community of Waco has decided it was their turn to "take a bite out of crime", so they have recently started Waco Community Watch, a "first" for them, but based on an idea that has been around for a while now.

Mayor John Barrett, who has been mayor of this small town, since being elected in 2016, said the Watch was "...something we've wanted to do for the entire community", noting the Watch extends beyond the town's actual limits to encompass some of the businesses that aren't just in
the locale by the post office and the convenience and gas mart.

Barrett has been a busy man, making sure the little town gets its fair share of attention from the state as well as the movers and shakers in Raleigh and elsewhere. Founded in 1880, incorporated in 1906, and sandwiched, as it were, between the cities of Shelby and Cherryville, and lying right on Hwy. 150, with a railroad literally sitting in its lap.

Possibly due to the highway's location, as well as the crossroad and the intersection, the town sees its fair share of enough through-traffic, some of which might (or might not) harbor folks who don't have the citizens of the town's best interests at heart on occasion.

Granted, Mayor Barrett noted their incidents are much smaller, by comparison, than the aforementioned nearby cities, one break-in, assault, narcotics incident, property damage or robbery... well, that is one too many!

"Oh, make no mistake," said Mayor Barrett. "The Town of Waco does have crime. Thus, the idea for the Watch was driven by citizens' ideas. Some of them approached the Board about it before the COVID pandemic."

He continued, "It came back into play in December 2021 and we approached the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office about it and set up a meeting with them in March 2022. We have had two meetings with Sheriff (Alan) Norman and Capt. Christopher Canipe, and they were both very supportive and very interested in helping us."

Barrett said they want to get this community of roughly 380 people involved, so to that end a brochure was created by Jimmy Carpenter (www.jimmycarpenter.com) and can be found at the Waco Town Hall, located at 200 A.W. Black St., in Waco.

The brochure covers all of the aspects of what a Community Watch is and does and has a great deal of helpful information on what to watch for so far as anything or anyone suspicious in your neighborhood, he said.

Mayor Barrett said their Board has been "very active", adding they meet once a month at the Waco Community Building, just across the street and a bit east of the Town Hall, in the grey stone building on the corner of A.W. Black Street.

Mayor Barrett did note that while most crimes committed in Waco are what he termed "petty crimes", he believes a Watch will be good for the community and its businesses.

"We've seen this (Community Watch) idea continue to grow," he said. "Through donations, fund raisers, window stickers and signs, which are installed on all of our speed limit signs in the city limits."

Barrett also said the town is planning to have a free town-wide block party on Aug. 27, with a bounce house for the kids and food, all of which is covered by $1,000-plus in donations, so that not a penny from the town's budget was spent for it.

"The donations all came from our 25 businesses," he said.

Mayor Barrett said for those with questions or wanting more information to please either visit their Facebook page (Waco Community Watch; ask to be invited), or visit the town's web site at www.townofwaco.com, or call him at (704) 718-8475 and leave a message, if possible.

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