How telecommuters create a new type of Neighborhood Watch

Posted6/26/2017 1:17 PM
  • A neighborhood watch sign is posted on the 400 block of State Street in Batavia. Dave Heun suggests that people who work from home comprise a new generation of Neighborhood Watch.

      A neighborhood watch sign is posted on the 400 block of State Street in Batavia. Dave Heun suggests that people who work from home comprise a new generation of Neighborhood Watch. Rick West | Staff Photographer

After you read this, you'll have to decide if I am just a nosy old man, or a guy wanting to make sure everything in his neighborhood is OK.

Those of us who work from our homes generally find out the pros and cons fairly quickly. Yes, it is far less expensive in terms of not commuting via car or train, and there is also no need for new work clothes. For some, it wipes out the cost of paying for lunch every day as well.

But here's a plus not many people talk about. When taking a few moments away from the computer, I become a very good "Neighborhood Watch" guy.

It takes no effort to glance or go outside and see what's happening in the front and backyards of our home and the homes around us.

The concept of "Neighborhood Watch" was pretty big many years ago. Human eyes and ears were critical in helping police, and still are, but I suspect that more sophisticated security equipment and the fact that so many people do work at home has changed some of that over the years.

In fact, area police told me there isn't as much community interest in creating Neighborhood Watch areas.

"We still have a program and consider it a good way to deter or report crimes," said Batavia police officer Eric Blowers. "It's just not requested as much as it used to."

When asked, police will still come to speak to neighbors interested in learning crime prevention tips and how to spot suspicious behavior, Blowers said.

Overall, the program may not be as critical as it once was. For example, it seems someone is at home in every house in our neighborhood all day now.

That's almost a 1950s thing when you think about it. But the movement toward more work-at-home situations has us again doing our "Neighborhood Watch" duties anyway.

Supporting the shelter:

It's not that I don't want to support worthy causes in town, but it is true that my wife talked me into participating at 8 a.m. July 4 in the Great Western Freedom 4 Run & Walk to benefit Lazarus House at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve.

I can certainly handle the 2-mile walk portion of this event. Plus, LeRoy Oakes and the nearby Great Western Trail off Dean Street make up one of our favorite areas. So it will be good to get out in these settings on what we hope is a nice summer morning.

Anyone else looking to start their Fourth of July festivities with a little exercise can sign up for the competitive 4-mile run or the two-mile walk at and pay $20 for the walk or $28 for the run.

On event day, those fees are $25 for the walk and $35 for the race.

Phone-call stations:

If we have places to pull off the highway to weigh truck loads or visit a rest stop, and emergency bays for when our vehicles misbehave, how long before we have "phone-call stations" set aside?

We have special parking areas in airports for people to wait and take a phone call from persons they are picking up.

We all have mobile devices now, and we all are tempted to monkey around with them when driving. Not only is that illegal, but it's been proven to be a deadly habit.

Instead, if you really had to make a call, just wait for the next "phone-call station" area to pull over.

Traffic, crosswalk thoughts:

At least a year ago, I asked readers to share thoughts about the "scariest" intersections or roads they have to navigate in their travels around the Tri-Cities area. On occasion, they still pass along their thoughts.

Reader Larry Loehr of St. Charles mentioned the need for a left-turn green arrow on northbound Second Street (Route 31) at Main Street in downtown St. Charles.

He acknowledges how tight the lanes are at that intersection, so any type of left-turn lane isn't practical. Someone a lot smarter than me would have to explain how a turn arrow could, or could not, operate there. An arrow engages for those traveling south so as much traffic as possible does clear out.

Loehr also feels that school kids going to the Park Shore Apartments could use a crosswalk of some sort, as he too often has seen them dashing across Route 31 at Mosedale when there is an opening.

For that, it might be helpful if St. Charles thought about what we've seen in Batavia and other areas, where a crosswalk with a button for kids to push to signal a flashing yellow light, would at least make drivers aware of students in the area.

A week off:

"Talk of the Town" will have a week off before returning on July 9. So, keep your fingers crossed for good weather and have a safe Fourth of July holiday in the meantime.

And that means to watch the sky light up over Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles or the area around Batavia High School.

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