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Community connections

National Night Out brings community together

August 8, 2012
By PETER KASPARI (pkaspari@messengernews.net) , Messenger News

Every year, public safety partners and area agencies team up to provide the children of Fort Dodge a chance to learn more about their jobs and getting school supplies.

The annual National Night Out and Back to School Bash was held Tuesday evening on the grounds of Corpus Christi Church.

Mayor Matt Bemrich said this is the seventh year Fort Dodge has done National Night Out, and the third year that has featured the Back to School Bash.

Article Photos

Fort Dodge firefighter Mike Ormond, AKA Sparky the Fire Dog, leads Jayden Schockey, 8, though an obstacle course at the departments display during the annual National Night Out event in the parking lot of Corpus Christi Church.

"It shows the partnership between public safety, local law enforcement and the community," he said. "It's a good event all around."

The event was filled with kids, who were there to not only pick up free school supplies, but also learn more about public safety.

Cassandra Flaugh, of Fort Dodge, said she's been going to the event for several years.

"It's a good event to get the kids out of the house and get school supplies," she said.

Michael Chaplin, of Fort Dodge, was attending National Night Out for the first time.

"It's all about the kids," he said. "They can come here and get school supplies and meet new people."

Also at National Night Out for the first time was the Fort Dodge Public Library.

Barb Shultz, the library's director, said they were there to promote their upcoming programs.

"We're kicking off our Bounce Back to the Library event," she said.

At Tuesday's event, Shultz said the library was giving away notebooks that had been donated by Target.

"It's a great opportunity to see lots of kids," she said. "We like to see them in the library, but it's also nice to see them out and for them to see us outside our work."

In addition to the educational aspect, children got to learn more about law enforcement and other public safety agencies.

Detectives with the Fort Dodge/Webster County Internet Crimes Against Task Force educated children about staying safe online, while the Fort Dodge Police Department provided goggles to children simulating what it's like to drink and drive.

Assistant Fort Dodge Police Chief Kevin Doty said this is a valuable demonstration for young people.

"They get to see what it's like to go through a simulation of what it's like at different levels of intoxication," he said. "When they get to the age where they're tempted to alcohol, they can see with the goggles that it's not something they should do."

Alexis Harkema, 11, of Fort Dodge, experienced walking in a straight line and trying to catch a rubber ball with the goggles on.

"It was weird because you couldn't see the line in front of you," she said. "And when he (Doty) threw the ball, it was hard to see where it was going."

Harkema said it was a learning experience for her, and added she wouldn't want to do it again.

Other children competed in an obstacle course with the Fort Dodge Fire Department.

Jayden Shockey, 8, said her favorite part was trying to knock out a "window," which was simulated by using a cardboard box.

"It was pretty easy," she said about the course.

Shockey added that she was "having fun. We haven't gone to this before."

Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody said the event is beneficial to all public safety agencies.

"It's an opportunity to connect with citizens on a one-on-one basis," he said. "Each year it's a new event. It's a wonderful event for people to make that connection to others in the community."

 
 

 

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