TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute has been ranked No. 2 in the nation for its National Night Out 2013 effort, getting bumped out of first place in 2012 by the community of Maple Grove, Minn.
But local organizer Lt. Jason Brentlinger of the Terre Haute Police Department declined Wednesday to believe that the Terre Haute event was not the top event of its size last year among 33 similar-sized communities with populations of 50,000 to 100,000. In fact, he thinks the Terre Haute National Night Out keeps getting better every year.
“I think we do a better job at it because we care more for our people,” Brentlinger said. “I felt last year’s effort was greater than the year before when we won first place.”
Planning has already commenced for the 2014 event – set for Aug. 5 – and some changes are in the works.
During an organizational session Wednesday at Harrison College, Brentlinger announced that funding for the event has been reduced by half because of budget cuts. That means that $5,000 of the $10,000 budget will have to be raised from new sources.
“It takes about $10,000 to put this thing on – buying school supplies and paying for food and the airboat rides and entertainment,” Brentlinger explained. “We are really struggling this year. So, we are reaching out during the next two months to see where we can get some more sponsors and assistance. It’s a free event, and it has to remain that way.”
The plan is to continue giving out school supplies such as notebooks, pencils, folders, crayons and other items because many of the families attending the event rely on receiving that assistance.
He also announced that the previous food vendor will no longer supply the free hot dogs that have been a staple of the event, so a new food vendor is being sought.
And a potential change may come in the actual location. National Night Out has grown so much, Brentlinger said, that it has been suggested that the event be moved to the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds. That is only a suggestion at this time, he emphasized, but he welcomes input on that potential change.
The event has been set up in Fairbanks Park for several years. The first National Night Out in Terre Haute started in Gilbert Park before growing to Vorhees Park, then Deming Park, and now taking over most of Fairbanks Park. Parking gets tight at times, Brentlinger said, but he agreed that it is also a good location for people who walk to the event. Moving it to the fairgrounds would create a transportation issue for those who walk.
Another topic to consider, Brentlinger said, is moving the start time of the event to 6 p.m. rather than 5 p.m.
The hour later would mean that the August temperatures might be a little cooler. Two years ago, the organizers logged about 20 to 25 heat-related health issues because of high temperatures.
One thing that will continue is Project 365, a prescription drug collection program aimed at getting unwanted items out of medicine cabinets so they cannot be abused or sold.
National Night Out is an event to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that the community is organized and fighting back.
National Night Out now involves more than 37 million people and more than 16,100 communities from all 50 states U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.
Anyone wanting to contact Brentlinger about participating can call him at the Terre Haute Police Department, 812-238-1661.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.