New leader expected for Watch

Jan. 17, 2014 @ 09:49 PM

Rev. Gene Wood is expected to be named the new chairman of the Henderson-Vance Community Watch Association.

Wood would replace Rev. Brett Marlowe, who moved away. Wood is currently the vice chairman. His appointment is pending official action by the board.

A board meeting is scheduled next week, and a general association meeting is expected to take place in the third week of February.

Wood, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church on U.S. 158 Bypass, said Community Watch groups continue to grow in size and number, with 48 groups now active.

Wood said that he expects to see more neighbors involved with Watch groups because it is a practical way to demonstrate being a good neighbor.

“It gets you to know your neighbors and it keeps you abreast of what is happening, both good and bad, in your community,” Wood said. “It really pulls the community together, you know, to look out for each other and watch out for each other’s property.”

Wood said it is a continuing work that will carry on from when Marlowe was chairman. Marlowe, according to Wood, moved to Columbia, S.C., in answer to a ministry calling.

The handing of the leadership role from one pastor to another is a happenstance, Wood said, but one that goes with the territory of being a good neighbor and encouraging good neighbor values in the community.

“There are all kinds of people involved,” he said, “and you definitely don’t have to be a pastor to take a leadership role.”

Wood said that it was a member of his church who told him about the neighborhood watch program and got him to attend his first meeting.

“I’ve been involved for about five years,” Wood said. “My church is in the West Hills community watch area. Bob Choplin invited me, and so I went. Bob is also very involved with Crime Stoppers.”

Wood said he hopes a sense of invitation goes out to the whole county, to further swell the ranks of watchful neighbors working closely with Henderson police and the Vance County Sheriff’s Office on reducing crime.

“The membership has picked up some,” Wood said.

According to association statements, the Community Watch is active to counter the isolating effects and fear that crime causes and feeds upon.

The separate groups are each led by a watch captain, and they are further organized into members active under block captains, with everyone following intentional routines of being “the eyes and ears” of the neighborhood for police and deputies.

The groups hold meetings in addition to the general membership events for the county association. Community Watch dispenses current information on crime trends that include fraud and Internet crimes.

Watch groups are active on the front lines when crime trends such as burglaries in a particular area spike, according to association statements.

Henderson Police Lt. Irvin Robinson is the named contact person for those interested in joining or learning further information. Robinson is available at (252) 431-6061.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.