TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for its National Night Out 2012 effort, winning a trophy as the best program among 39 similar-sized cities.
“It’s what we’ve been working for for 12 years,” Sgt. Jason Brentlinger of the Terre Haute Police Department said during a 2013 planning meeting this week at Deming Park. “We did it. Now it’s about keeping it.”
The annual NNO event — conducted on an August evening in Fairbanks Park — had 115 organizations, businesses and agencies from the community mingling with the public to share information about public safety and support back-to-school efforts.
An estimated 15,000 people attended the evening-long event, which featured free food, entertainment and give-aways. The free school supply distribution was a big hit with the public and will be continued for this year’s event, Brentlinger said.
Another highlight of the NNO evening was the Project 365 program that targeted collection of unused and out-of-date prescription medications.
“It gets old medicine out of medicine cabinets and away from kids,” Brentlinger said. “Children tend to think this stuff is legal, and it can start them down the road of abusing drugs.”
The local effort collected hundreds of pounds of prescription medication, he said. The medicines were turned in by people who no longer needed the drugs and by family members who discarded prescriptions issued to people who had passed away.
The drug take-back effort is included in the informational binder that Brentlinger compiles to document the local NNO effort. The binder, which is submitted to the national organization, includes photographs taken at the event, as well as information about the programs offered and participation by the public.
Brentlinger commended the numerous businesses that contributed to the project’s success.
“It takes a community coming together like we did, and having so many people show up,” he said. “It’s a great achievement. We beat out communities that have a lot more money and resources than we do.”
Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse also thanked participants in the program, recalling that the original National Night Out in Terre Haute started in Gilbert Park before growing to Vorhees Park, then Deming Park, and now taking over most of Fairbanks Park.
Any organization or business interested in participating in the 2013 NNO can contact Brentlinger at THPD by calling 812-238-1661.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.