Grassroots community watch program in early stages

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LA RUSSELL, Mo.—63 years. That’s how long Jean Campbell has lived in her La Russell home.

“We moved here in 1956 and have been here since.”

But, a new neighborhood watch program started by the La Russell community is taking action to keep homes like Campbell’s safe.

Although the program is in its early stages, Campbell hopes that the new program will help keep threats of vandalism, theft, and beyond at a minimum.

“I know several people here who have had windows busted in or had things stolen from their yard.”

And for Campbell, these crimes are slowly hitting closer to home.

Her daughter’s house sits directly across the street and has been burglarized twice in recent years.

“They broke in and trashed our house and Christmas tree,” Van Anderson, Campbell’s daughter, explained. “We actually haven’t put a tree up since.”

Both times, the family’s safe was stolen.

“17 guns, a coin collection, the titles to our cars, birth certificates, and some finer jewelry I kept. 

That first safe didn’t only contain car titles, a coin collection, guns and birth certificates — it even held personal items given to Anderson by her late father, who died less than five years ago. 

“Those things that my dad gave me I’d like to have,” Anderson explained as her eyes filled up with tears. “But all that other stuff…It’s just stuff.”

Not only does the town not have a police department — it also sits on the Jasper-Lawrence County line, making it difficult for local police with the rising question of which department responds to which area. 

Lawrence County on the east side…
….Jasper County on the west

The neighborhood watch program will be a collaboration between Jasper and Lawrence Counties with the La Russell community. 

A meeting will be held with volunteers interested in serving in the program on Monday, February 3, at the La Russell community building.

Since that area also includes outskirts of Carthage, Mt. Vernon, and Sarcoxie, the program hopes to expand beyond La Russell as well…

While Campbell hopes that it will provide her neighbors a sense of security.

“I do not feel unsafe here — I just want our community to feel protected.”

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