Community members discussed the importance of looking out for one another at the monthly Jacksonville Community Meeting Monday evening.
The meetings are held every third Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Norman Activity Center, and all community members are invited to attend.
The group was started by Jacksonville Police Det. Javier Guerra about two-and-a-half years ago to help the parents of gangs reclaim some control in the household and grew to include discussions on any topic which residents have concerns about.
“Our goal is to bond the citizens, create community pride, and to create a Rolodex of resources,” said Whitney Graham Carter, a concerned community member who joined Guerra's initiative. “We are creating a toolbox of resources in our town. We know people are doing great things in our town, but it is not as coordinated as it could be.”
The group has a Facebook page, “Jacksonville Community Meeting,” where citizens can express problems, concerns or share resources. She said the most asked-about topics are addressed in the meetings and the group tries to provide a fun food to help bond community members.
On Monday, Det. Tonya Harris told the group how to start a neighborhood watch.
Carter said it is simple to get one going and it all starts with talking to neighbors and setting up a time that everyone can meet. Then, call Harris at the police department (903-586-2546) to schedule a time when she can come to confirm the group.
“I think if we would all be involved in these neighborhood watches, they would drastically cut down on crime,” Carter said.
The second portion of the meeting, attendees had coke floats and watched a slide show of the rights of passage for anyone growing up in Jacksonville to say they are truly natives of the town.
The list was compiled by Foster Carter, Ben Peacock and Whitney Graham Carter. It includes activities and tips that only a true native would know about, including entering as many tomato eating, peeling and throwing contests as possible to get a real feel for the Tomato Fest, or getting to the concession stands early to get a good seat for the Fourth of July firework show to see the always-impressive display from Sen. Robert Nichols' home just to the right of the stands.
Picnics at Love's Lookout, eating farm-fresh veggies, viewing the manger at the Jacksonville Fire Department in December and visiting to local businesses including Jacksonville Candy company, the Basket Factory and Sadlers are also on the list of experiences that make a true Jacksonville native.
Guerra said the next meeting will focus on safety issues for Halloween, including safe trick-or-treat practices, and may include some health tips for the holidays.
The group will meet in October, but take November and December off so members can spend time with their families. Meetings will start back in January.
“It's like a garden,” Guerra said. “If you don't take care of it, it will get taken over by weeds. The weeds will prevail.”
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