Governor’s Night Out in Hopewell
By James Peacemaker, Jr. Managing Editor
Aug 9, 2013, 12:04
JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Brandon Daugherty, 12, speaks with Gov. Bob McDonnell at a National Night Out event in Hopewell on Tuesday.
HOPEWELL — It wasn’t the moonbounce or the free hotdogs and cake that had Brandon Daugherty thrilled to be at the National Night Out event Tuesday evening. It was the chance to get his picture taken with the governor that had the 12-year-old beaming from ear to ear.
When asked how it felt to meet the governor after squeezing through the crowd of elected officials and emergency responders, he responded “Awesome!”
“He was determined to get that photo,” said Janet Cordle, his mom.
Gov. Bob McDonnell made a surprise trip to the Kippax area in Hopewell to show support for National Night Out and the neighborhood watch.
Some of the event organizers were even surprised by McDonnell’s arrival. But it wasn’t a surprise for everyone, as the event was a who’s who of prominent local officials, with dozens of police and fire officials, the commonwealth’s attorney, City Council members and others running for office.
Police Chief John Keohane thanked McDonnell and Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker, who was also there Tuesday evening, for their support of law enforcement and recognized the importance of community involvement, including the neighborhood watch.
While McDonnell spoke briefly to the crowd, cheers rang out from the kids bouncing in the inflatable castle.
“I’ve been on office long enough to know you really came for the hot dogs, not for me,” McDonnell said.
Along with his security detail, personal photographer and other staff, he also brought his daughter, who works in the victim witness program for the Henrico commonwealth’s attorney.
McDonnell noted the importance of community involvement in Hopewell and other cities across the state.
“I’m really blown away that you have 18 neighborhood watches that have been set up around the city,” he said.
McDonnell said the groups play an important role in fighting crime.
“We’ve got people in the community that really care about their own community. No matter how good a chief you’ve got in Chief Keohane and how many great leaders you’ve got on council like [Vice Mayor Jasmine Gore], if neighbors don’t care about their fellow neighbor and don’t care about serving each other ... without that it’s a lot harder to cut down on crime,” he said.
Neighbors are “making my job and, chief, your job a lot easier by doing what they are doing tonight. ... Ultimately its about being a good neighbor to each other,” McDonnell said.
Michael Brown, coordinator of the Kippax neighborhood watch, said he was surprised that the governor chose this location but said it was a great honor too.
“We have about 18 neighborhood watch groups in Hopewell and for him to choose ours, it felt nice,” he said.
Brown said there have been about 40-50 people involved in the Kippax neighborhood watch, which was started in 2006.
He said people walk the neighborhood or ride bikes or drive cars, but the most important thing they do is to know their neighbors and watch out for things that appear out of the ordinary.
“That’s why a lot of crime happens is you don’t know what normal is,” he said.
Brown said things have improved greatly in the past few years and community policing has played an important part.
“You’ve got the continuity of one police officer. He knows the neighborhood. He knows the trends. He knows what street they speed on. ... People actually know the officer,” he said.
Prince George County celebrated it’s 30th National Night Out with 28 scheduled events around the locality. The community came out to support its safety enforcement officials through assorted cookouts and activities.
At Independence Place Apartments, citizens gathered for poolside burgers and hot dogs, foosball, karaoke and more with a chance to win special door prizes.
Members of Prince George Fire Station and EMS Company 5 showed up to the Appomattox Boat Harbor Club House where they shared a sunset meal with members of the neighborhood.
BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT People play foosball at Independence Place Apartments in Prince George on Tuesday.
Local events were also held at the Burrowsville Community Center, Jordan on the James, Unity Baptist Church and many more.
Chester celebrated National Night Out with multiple events around the area. Iron Bridge Sports Park hosted one of these events. Members of the community came to have fun and meet other community members. The event held activities for kids, such as a water slide, a dunking booth and a visit from the crime dog, McGruff.
Several vendors set up shop at the event, featuring items such as candles, beauty supplies, and even karate lessons. Many businesses gave people the opportunity to spin a wheel and win a prize. The park served hot dogs and beverages to the crowd, while other vendors gave out cotton candy and snow cones.
ASHLEY MCLEOD/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Kids play on an inflatable water slide at Iron Bridge Sports Park on Tuesday evening.
Other events were held at Greenleigh in Chester and Bensley Park in Chesterfield
• Staff writers Ashley McLeod and Blake Belden contributed to this report.