Group discusses plans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Only a fraction of the crowd of people who crammed the council chambers at City Hall about a month ago for the neighborhood watch meeting were at Tuesday night's follow-up meeting.

Most of those who were there, though, were clad in bright blue sweatshirts to show they were part of northwest Austin's neighborhood watch group and they discussed how they have been successful and what they plan to do in the future.

Since the last meeting, Vaughn "Spud" Bothun had passed on the directorship of the group to Kevin and Sandy Anderson. The Andersons moved to Austin from St. Paul recently and Sandy said they had been involved in a similar neighborhood watch group there and they are trying to adopt some policies their old group had.

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For example, Sandy said, she and Kevin are trying to coordinate the entire northwest quadrant of Austin into a giant neighborhood watch network because "if someone lives on 4th, and their kid delivers newspapers on 12th," the network would be able to make sure the child completes the newspaper route safely.

She also said if more people are involved with the group, it might help the group's longevity.

So far, the group has started publishing a quarterly newsletter, which will keep those involved in the northwest neighborhood watch program informed of what the group is doing. The Andersons say they have plans to distribute a Spanish version of the letter to make sure the Hispanics in the area can participate in the watch group as well.

They also have plans to publish a newsletter for children in the neighborhood to explain what the watch group is and how children can help.

"Our goal is maintaining and restoring safe neighborhoods through community involvement. We want to welcome people to the neighborhood but at the same time, take a strong stance against illegal behavior," Kevin explained.

Officials applauded the group's efforts and hope their actions will inspire others. "The frustration we keep running into is that if something isn't going on, the enthusiasm (for the neighborhood watch program) goes away. It's tough," said Austin Police Chief Paul Philipp.

"Lots are asking how to get started and we're hoping they'll get together eventually. Two groups have formed since the last meeting. They're still coming," said Officer Steve Wald, who oversees the neighborhood watch program.

For information about the neighborhood watch program, contact Wald at 437-9400.

For more information about the Northwest Neighborhood Watch group, call Kevin or Sandy Anderson at 433-5205.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at