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Bland County residents start community watch

Bland County residents start community watch

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Anyone up to no good in Bland County might want to re-think the situation – people are watching.

Last month, Rocky Gap resident Dreama Hatcher was hearing about mysterious vehicles and break-ins in the county, so she decided to start a Community Watch program so neighbors can look out for one another.

Another reason Hatcher started the page was a sermon that Pastor Paul Looney at Bastian Union Church preached one Sunday.

“He preached on how everybody has a purpose and you have to know what yours is,” Hatcher said. “I kept wondering was mine, and mine is helping people out.”

On Sept. 5, she launched the Bland County Community Watch Facebook page, and two weeks later had more than 1,000 likes.

Hatcher, who also runs the Bland County Helping Hands Facebook page, said she uses the forum to keep people connected with what is going on in Bland County and surrounding counties, too.

“I want to let people know what our sheriff’s office has done and if you see something, say beware. I don’t want people to be afraid to call 911 if they see something suspicious, and not to take matters into their own hands. That’s my goal.”

The Facebook page has information from the sheriff’s office, along with posts about suspicious cars/people in the area, like a post in late September warning followers about a red Ford Taurus with Virginia tags in the Hollybrook area.

“Older, white male under the influence of something for sure,” it read.

In addition to information about crimes or suspicious activity, people are posting about lost animals and things to do in the area.

Hatcher said the page was not created for that type of information, but if that’s what makes people comfortable, she’s fine with it.

“It’s really not a complex thing,” she said. “It’s really simple – it’s about keeping people informed and answering questions if they have any questions or concerns.”

Hatcher said the page gives people the opportunity to be aware of what is happening in the county so they can avoid rumors.

“And we emphasize telling people to check on their neighbors. Pick up the phone and give them a call, especially check on your elderly neighbors. It only takes a few minutes. Or call the sheriff to do a well check if you are concerned about not seeing them in a while. The sheriff’s department is wonderful about checking on people.

Bland County Sheriff Jason Ramsey encourages everyone to be aware of their surroundings.

“I think we live in a day and time where society has to be on guard,” he said in an email. “We have to watch out for each other. The Community Watch program is an excellent thing if it is organized and run correctly. Studies show that an active organization deters crime. I have spoken to several citizens as well as Mrs. Hatcher. They all want to help make Bland County one of the safest counties to live. They are all very motivated.”

Hatcher is selling Community Watch signs for residents to put in their yards. They are $5 each. Any extra money will be used for bigger signs to be placed out in the community.

Sometimes just knowing that people are watching makes a difference, Hatcher said.

“We are very, very blessed in this county,” she added.

For more information or to purchase a sign, call Hatcher at 276-245-2359, or visit the Bland County Community Watch Facebook page.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com.

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