WHEELING - The Citywide Neighborhood Watch meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Louis' Famous Hot Dog at the Elm Terrace Shopping Plaza in the Elm Grove section of Wheeling.
The third annual event brings together residents of all of Wheeling's neighborhoods, city officials and law enforcement for a night of discussion and camaraderie. Bill O'Leary, an Elm Grove Neighborhood Watch member, said people don't have to regularly attend neighborhood watch meetings to enjoy the citywide event.
"It is called a neighborhood watch because we not only look out for crime in our neighborhood, but we watch out for our neighbors as well," he said. "The purpose of this meeting is to exchange ideas and get to know the people from all over the city and become friends with all the other group members."
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Louis Mamakos, manager of Louis’ Famous Hot Dogs, Elm Grove, talks about the upcoming Citywide Neighborhood Watch meeting with Elm Grove residents Bill and Sharon O’Leary at the eatery where the event will be held.
Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger, who had been working in Virginia before coming to Wheeling in June, currently is receiving training at the West Virginia State Police Academy and won't be able to attend the citywide meeting. He started classes last week and has two weeks remaining.
He noted, though, in comparison to where he worked in Virginia, Wheeling's crime watch meetings are well attended. And the information gleaned from them are helpful to the police department.
"I would like to see the meetings reflect the diversity of the city of Wheeling. I would like to see more young people and more minorities," Schwertfeger said, adding those who attend the meetings regularly should try to bring friends, family and neighbors with them.
Meanwhile, O'Leary believes the key to the annual meeting is "solidarity."
"Because we are all working together to make our neighborhoods safe and the city a great place to live and raise a family," he said.
Food and beverages can be purchased during the event. Door prizes will be given away.
"I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy a great evening of socializing and meeting new friends. You do not need to be a member of any group - just someone who wants to keep their neighborhood safe," O'Leary added.