Hall Place gearing up for NNO

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 20, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Susan Blair, president of the Hall Place Community Association (HPCA), had never heard of &uot;National Night Out&uot; (NNO) until she came to Suffolk about two years ago. Now, she’s finding out just how important the event is to most citizens and businesses in the city, and she and other Hall Place residents are planning on winning the NNO Civic League Contest.

&uot;I lived out in the country in Pungo in Virginia Beach, and our idea of a National Night Out would have been sitting on your front porch with a gun,&uot; Blair joked. &uot;When I first heard of NNO from the former HPCA President, Ron Hatfield, and Donna Perry, a member of the NNO Steering Committee, I got pretty excited. Donna told me about the events, the new competition this year between the civic groups, and about the reasons behind the NNO. Hall Place is certainly going to be a contender in this year’s events, and I challenge other civic groups to organize an event in their neighborhood.&uot;

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The &uot;21st Annual National Night Out&uot;, a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), has been scheduled for Aug. 3. The event is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; generate support for and participation in local anticrime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and especially to send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

&uot;When I first came to the HPCA, there were only six people attending the meetings and we now have 30-plus people,&uot; said Blair. &uot;People are coming together because they are interested in preserving and protecting our neighborhood and NNO is an extension of that interest.&uot;

She added that Hall Place residents familiar with police officers who serve in the Community Improvement Unit, who attend meetings to create an awareness of the ways in which neighbors can help police help the community.

The Hall Place community is located on South Main Street, an area that was first established by the executives who worked for Planters Peanuts back in the early 1900’s. The once elegant homes there had fallen into disrepair up until a few years ago when residents decided to take back their neighborhood from the criminals who had invaded the area with drugs and alcohol. Major changes have taken place and the little neighborhood is once again a serene and lovely spot at the foot of the downtown overpass of the railroad tracks on the Southern end of Main Street. Those changes came about with the help of the Suffolk Police Department working with the neighbors of Hall Place.

Just in time for NNO, Hall Place will also receive from the City of Suffolk, a sign designating the area as &uot;Hall Place Community.&uot; That sign will go up in the park-like area the residents have created at the entrance of their neighborhood.

&uot;We had a yard sale out there two months ago, and we cooked out with hot dogs and drinks and people from across Suffolk came and enjoyed it all,&uot; said Blair. &uot;That’s the same type of thing we want to do now with NNO. We are looking at the possibility of another cook out or possibly an ice cream social. I like the idea of an old-fashioned ice cream social – something that would take us back to the grand old days when life was so much simpler and neighbors gathered for such events.&uot;

The HPCA is also looking at many other things to do to celebrate NNO and they are definitely reaching for the designation of &uot;best of the best&uot; in winning the NNO award in the &uot;Neighborhood Expo Contest.&uot;

&uot;The biggest thing is getting people together and working toward a common goal for our neighborhood,&uot; said Blair. &uot;Right now, we are checking the NNO website at www.nno.org for ideas and I’m putting out a news letter the first of July to our members to create more interest. We are very excited about the committees that will visit neighborhoods this year and we would love to win the contest.&uot;

A panel of three judges will determine the winner of the NNO Neighborhood Contest. Look for registration forms at area businesses and at The Suffolk News-Herald, 130 S. Saratoga St.

For details on NNO, keep reading the News-Herald or call tact 923-2350.