Neighborhood association honors OC police department

Oil City police chief Bob Wenner (center-right) and senior patrolman Cory Ruditis accept the annual Good Neighbor award from the South Side Neighborhood Association. Others pictured are (from left) association delegate Robin Moon, president Leah Gesing, treasurer Jodi Donze, delegate Judy Snow and vice president Trish McKissick. (Submitted photo)
Staff Writer

The Oil City Police Department was honored Tuesday by the South Side Neighborhood Association at the group’s annual Good Neighbor awards dinner.

Association president Leah Gesing said that in years past, the group has given more than one award, but this year the police department was the only recipient.

Gesing and Judy Snow are founding members of the association, which was formed as a response to Snow’s neighbor being assaulted outside her home.

“She (the neighbor) had a drug house across the street, and they were overparking,” Snow said. “She was such a kind and loving person, she never said anything. Then one day someone came out of that house and hit her.”

Snow contacted police chief Bob Wenner who helped them start a neighborhood association with the purpose of heightening crime and drug prevention awareness.

Area residents may notice green placards on some front windows with the words “safe house” written on them. This is one of the association’s projects, which was inspired by a previous effort by the Oil City YWCA.

These houses are designated as safe havens where residents have been trained to handle situations in which someone has been victimized or feels unsafe.

“It could be child bullying, child abuse, domestic abuse or anything where you feel unsafe,” Snow said.

Gesing said that part of being a good neighbor means keeping the eyes and ears open and reporting when something isn’t right.

“I advise people to keep a log,” Gesing said about suspected drug houses. “Any kind of information that can be given to the police is a piece of the puzzle that can be used to build a case.”

Useful information can be suspicious activity, frequent traffic in and out of a driveway and license plate numbers, Gesing added.

“You have to pay attention if you want to keep a neighborhood safe,” she said.

Snow said one of the group’s main focuses is to teach young people the importance of being good neighbors.

“We’re trying to teach the younger kids the importance of volunteering,” Snow said. “They fall in love with it. They feel good because they’re helping someone, and they they can put it on their resume. It’s helping everybody.”

The South Side Neighborhood Association meets every fourth Tuesday at the Fellowship Hall of the Free Methodist Church at 206 Wilson Ave. in Oil City. Anyone is welcome to attend.