Janet Nance discovered planning became much easier this year for the annual National Night Out gathering Aug. 3 at the Pheasants Hollow neighborhood in Panther Lake because the area has annexed into the city of Kent.
When Nance organized the event last year and contacted Target, a national sponsor of National Night Out, to get a few supplies, the company had a quick response.
“They told me they gave everything to the city of Kent,” Nance said Tuesday as she stood at the Pheasants Hollow community park near Southeast 224th Street and 127th Avenue Southeast, where the annual barbecue will take place for the 114 homes in the neighborhood. “I told them that we were not in Kent.”
That’s not the case this year as Pheasants Hollow joins many other groups around the city to host National Night Out, an event designed to reduce crime by bringing neighbors together to get to know each other and the community better. The nearly 24,000 residents of Panther Lake joined the city of Kent July 1.
“It’s going to be so much easier,” said Nance, who added balloons, chalks for kids to draw with and other items are being supplied by Target through city officials. “And the city has contacted me rather than me contacting them.”
Eighty-eight groups had registered with the city as of July 27 to host events. That number could exceed 100 with a July 30 registration deadline, said Sara Wood, city coordinator of National Night Out. The city had 90 events last year and 75 in 2008.
Twelve Panther Lake groups have signed up so far with the city to host gatherings.
“We are excited to have the Panther Lake groups participate and know that this is just the start,” Wood said in an e-mail. “We anticipate many more NNO events for next year and know that Block Watch groups will also form as a process of organizing neighborhoods and teaching the importance of awareness and how knowing your neighbors help establish a norm for a neighborhood, making it easier to identify suspicious activity, vehicles, and people.”
Nance said the Pheasants Hollow neighborhood has had National Night Out events the past four years.
“I think the best thing is you get to know what our neighbors look like,” said Nance, who expects as many as 30 to 50 families to attend the event. “If where you live you recognize each other, it keeps the homes safer.”
City employees visit many of the potlucks, barbecues and other events hosted by neighborhoods. Panther Lake gatherings will definitely be among the stopping points as Kent City Council members, Mayor Suzette Cooke, Police Chief Steve Strachan, police officers, firefighters and fire engines and other city employees spread out to visit gatherings across the city that grew to 112,000 residents with the annexation.
“Many aren’t sure what being a resident of Kent means,” Wood said about the city’s newest residents. “We hope that through events like NNO and others, they will soon understand that Kent cares about their concerns and that we want to work with them.”
Nance said she has noticed more police in the area since the annexation compared to when the King County Sheriff’s Office patrolled the unincorporated area north of Kent.
“That’s probably a good thing,” said Nance, who has lived in the Pheasants Hollow neighborhood for 16 years.
City crews were out recently to trim vegetation along 127th Avenue Southeast.
“They came out very quickly,” Nance said.
The city of Kent, however, will not be able to match what King County sent to the Pheasants Hollow National Night Out gathering a couple of years ago.
“They sent their helicopter over and it landed in a field near here,” Nance said of the Guardian One helicopter owned by the Sheriff’s Office.
Kent does not own a helicopter, but the police department can receive assistance from Guardian One when needed in emergencies.
To register for National Night Out, go to www.kentnno.com. The deadline is July 30.