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Volunteers plant flowers, spruce up Jonathan Street community

May 03, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN -- In a world that often is driven by appearance rather than substance, we sometimes are rightfully reminded to look beyond the surface.

But the C-SAFE Jonathan Street Cleanup and Beautification Saturday morning served as a reminder that in some cases, looks do matter.

More than 40 volunteers clutched flats of flowers, exercised rakes and shovels, and maneuvered wheelbarrows full of mulch along the street in an effort to maintain and enhance the appearance of the Jonathan Street community in downtown Hagerstown.

"If you maintain the community, it will be a deterrent to criminal activity. That's the bottom line," said Carolyn Brooks, C-SAFE coordinator for Washington County/Hagerstown. "We can reclaim the neighborhood from crime and from the fear of crime. This will be an outward symbol to anybody who wants to come into the community that this community cares. They take care of their neighborhood."

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C-SAFE, an acronym for Collaborative Supervision and Focused Enforcement, is a crime prevention strategy implemented through state and local coordination. Brooks said there is at least one designated C-SAFE area in every county in the state of Maryland. Areas are designated based on demonstration of significant crime levels.

Brooks said the Hagerstown Police Department directs the Washington County/Hagerstown C-SAFE. The group began the Jonathan Street Cleanup and Beautification as an annual community mobilization project in 1998, when C-SAFE was known as HotSpot.

Gerry Kendle, the Hagerstown Police Department's designated community officer for the Jonathan Street community, participated in the cleanup effort Saturday, working his way along the street with a trimming tool. Kendle said the cleanup effort prompts residents of the neighborhood to "get out and take ownership of their community."

"You'll notice there is very little graffiti in this neighborhood. If there ever is any, it is abated very quickly," Kendle said. "Members of the community are putting money into their homes, getting new windows, siding, putting on a fresh coat of paint. Over the last several years, the neighborhood is slowly revitalizing itself."

Carrie Mosby, a resident of the neighborhood, works with a C-SAFE after-school program at Winter Street Elementary School.

"I think this is a nice, worthwhile project," Mosby said. "I love planting. I enjoy doing it, and working together means a lot to the community."

Brooks said C-SAFE has "a lot of great collaborators."

Scott Brown of the Washington County State's Attorney's Office took individuals with the Alternative Sanctions program to the cleanup.

"We want to help out the neighborhood, make it look better, make it look like people care," Brown said. "Hopefully, that will make a statement."

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Leon Debes worked in a flower bed in front of the Memorial Recreation Center. He said the project brings the community together and fosters a sense of pride.

"When people start to take pride in ownership, they have a vested interest in keeping the community safe," Debes said.

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