Delmont garners national award for community watch organization

DELMONT -- Break-ins and burglaries in recent years prompted some Delmont residents to create a community watch, which in turn garnered the city national recognition.

DELMONT -- Break-ins and burglaries in recent years prompted some Delmont residents to create a community watch, which in turn garnered the city national recognition.

Delmont Community Watch, a nonprofit, officially became an organization in December 2013.

The community watch recently received an award through the National Association of Town Watches organization, in the neighborhoods/communities category, for making a positive difference in the community and area.

"It gets people to get to know their neighbors again," said Michael Williams, co-chair of the community watch. "It's kind of neat that our community is recognized for doing something positive."

Through NATW, National Night Out was born in 1984 to help communities come together to prevent neighborhood crime.


Delmont, a town of just more than 200 people, was recognized in a category with neighborhoods or communities in large cities like Lincoln Military Housing in San Diego, Calif., SW Quadrant Public Safety Community in Rochester, N.Y., and Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.

Williams said the watch will receive a plaque and certificate in January.

"This is huge," Williams said. "Just to see Delmont Community Watch listed. ... We must have gotten somebody's attention on a national level."

In August, the Delmont Community Watch held its second-annual community potluck, which was a large part of the organization's application for the award.

Donna Soulek, co-chair of the watch, said the application explains what the community does for National Night Out. The watch's potluck grills hotdogs and then everyone who attends the event brings a dish to share. During the event, Williams gave a synopsis of prizes available and Soulek gave a history of National Night Out.

To prepare for the annual potluck, watch members go around town and area communities to solicit prizes. This year more than 75 prizes were given out to the event's attendees, from gift certificates to Delmont Bucks to use at Delmont businesses.

One person donated tickets to a Twins baseball game and another donated $100 in gas money to be drawn as a prize for others who donated prizes, Soulek said.

This year's National Night Out also incorporated the area's first Kuchen Queen contest in cooperation with the Delmont Historical Society and tours of the town in the fire department's restored 1932 fire engine, Bertha.


"I'm very proud of all the people involved in the Delmont Community Watch," Williams said. "Every time you start something new to an area, it's a challenge. But we worked through it and have had a very good response."

Williams said the community and area have come together to make the watch a success. He's happy with the cooperation of businesses that donated items for prizes, inspiration and good relationship with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

He is particularly proud of Soulek and the "outstanding job she did with meeting deadlines" in applying for the NATW award.

Soulek said the award is not about her, but about the work of all involved in the Delmont Community Watch.

She said interest in joining the community watch was so high that a watch captain was named in each city council ward and given particular duties.

"People were concerned and wanted to make sure we weren't overdoing something in one area and not doing anything in another," Soulek said.

The watch's next idea is to enter Project 365 through NATW, which is meant to inspire groups to improve problem areas in their communities. The Delmont watch is fixing up the town's baseball park and has until August to complete the project. In the last couple years, Delmont began partnering again with Tripp in amateur baseball. But, Delmont's park had fallen into disrepair and was vandalized.

This summer, to spruce up the ballpark, the watch group and other volunteers began painting structures on the field, fixing boards and added a Wildcat sign on the hometown dugout. The Delmont Volunteer Fire Department donated the use of its tanker truck to blast chipped paint off structures at the park. Barb Hoffman, treasurer of the watch, volunteered her time to paint the new Wildcat sign.


"Delmont's old school mascot was the Wildcats, so that has some meaning here," Soulek said. "We're going to fix up the sponsor signs in the outfield as well."

Williams said it's fun to see his community do so many positive things.

"It gives me goosebumps to think about the people who came together to make this happen," Williams said. "It's the little things a person does for their community that make a difference. If anything comes out of this, it's that other communities see something like this, and it inspires them to never be afraid to try something."

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