Annual Night to Unite approaching quickly

by Jim Boyle
The deadline for making your neighborhood safer is fast approaching.
Elk River residents have until July 22 to sign their neighborhood up for Night to Unite, an event to celebrate and strengthen neighborhood and community partnerships. It replaces National Night Out.
Elk River has had one or the other for 16 consecutive years, and it sees no reason to stop now.
“The Chief (Brad Rolfe) says it’s one of the only times to connect with people in their neighborhoods when it doesn’t involve a call for service,” said Cheryll Edinger, a veteran community service officer for the department who heads up the event planning.
Night to Unite 2011 will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 2. The event is an  opportunity for the police department and the business community to unite and promote community involvement in the areas of public safety and crime prevention.
Last year there were 47 separate celebrations in Elk River, including one big one at Lions Park, 1104 Lions Park Dr. This year there could be even more, and the one at Lions Park looks to be even bigger, Edinger said.
It takes nearly the entire police department to make this event possible. Each officer makes it to a handful of neighborhoods armed with crime statistics specific to each neighborhood.
Residents benefit from the chance to connect with their neighbors and the police under the umbrella of crime prevention. The police benefit, too, Edinger says.
“The officers always come back talking about valuable information they get from their visits,” she said.
Of course when the shiny red fire engines show up, the conversations stop and all attention turns to these machines.
The Elk River Police Department is joined every year by the Elk River Fire Department, which also makes its way out to Otsego and Big Lake Township.
Some neighborhoods have had live bands and other attractions brought in to spice things up.
Lions Park attracted more than 600 people last year. There will be a helicopter landing, lots of food and a water slide, so kids are encouraged to bring their swimsuits.
At the end of the night, the hope is for a safer community.
Anyone interested in signing up their neighborhood can apply online or by calling Edinger at the Elk River Police Department. She says she’ll even deliver an application.
“It’s important,” she said.

Sherburne, Rogers making event plans, too
If you live in Sherburne County, you can register your neighborhood get-together now by calling Roxanne at 763-241-2535.
For more information in Rogers pertaining to Night to Unite, contact Officer Michael Hayen, Night to Unite coordinator at 763-428-3450 or at [email protected]

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