Tuesday night was the first time Nevis was included in Night to Unite festivities in Akeley.
Designed to promote positive relationships between law enforcement and the community, the Night to Unite featured food, games and music.
Fire trucks from both the Eastern Hubbard County Fire Department and Nevis were on scene so children could check them out, along with a variety of firefighting gear.
Akeley Police Chief Jimmy Hansen and Nevis deputy Josh Oswald chatted with people in the crowd throughout the evening.
“I think doing the event together drew a bigger crowd,” Hansen said. “I think we had between 200 and 300 people stop by. Night to Unite is about having a great time. It’s also a time to get to know new people. When people know they have a resource they can call, they might share a picture of something going on in their neighborhood, like a suspicious vehicle. That allows us to investigate that suspicion. Night to Unite enhances that ability enormously. People see law enforcement interacting with the youth, too, and that helps build trust.”
Hansen said police investigations in both Nevis and Akeley have reduced negative aspects in those communities, such as drug dealers.
“When you do that, there aren’t as many issues,” he said. “In Akeley, we had a couple of streets kids avoided because they were afraid to go there. Citizens have come to me and said those streets are safe and quiet now. There is definitely a change. Now you bring Night to Unite into it, and that keeps us there. It keeps the community at its finest by having people associate with us and with each other. We’re looking forward to next year for another great event. And as soon as we have that heli-pad in Akeley ready, I’m requesting a helicopter to come for Night to Unite next year.”
The Akeley Chamber of Commerce has an account set up for Night to Unite donations. For more information, contact Peg Davies at 252-1541. The city also makes an annual donation to the event.
Oswald said being part of the Akeley night out was a good thing for him and the Nevis community.
“In my opinion, it went very well,” he said. “It was a great turnout, and it was nice to see both communities come together because that’s what it is about. I always enjoy spending time with children and getting to know them as well. It is my goal to make the children and residents more comfortable and this is a way for everyone to get to know their law enforcement officers.”
While there has been discussion about alternating Night to Unite celebrations between Akeley and Nevis in the future, no decision has been made yet.