Annual event brings together communities and law enforcement
LILBOURN, Mo. - It is a team effort to reduce violence.
For local organizers, there is no better way to do that than by bringing area residents and law enforcement officers together on a baseball diamond. From 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lilbourn Elementary School baseball field, the Lincoln University Cooperative Extension Outreach Center at Charleston, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Howardville Taylor Center will do just that with BATTER UP - Back At The Things Everyone Remembers Uniting People.
Lester Gillespie with Stella Consultants explained it is called Batter Up because a series of slow-pitch softball games involving local teams and law enforcement will be the highlight of the event.
“We will be bridging the gap between law enforcement and the community. That is the true nature of community policing,” Gillespie said.
The day will also include a petting zoo, face painting, water balloon toss, camel rides and inflatables for children. For adults there will be employment opportunities and health screenings and exams. The SEMO Food Bank will provide food distribution.
There will be presentations by the Biles Twins and CMS Jazzy Jays of Charleston and the Bootheel Boogie LUCE Sikeston Dance Team. Gary Boyd will be the master of ceremonies.
A list of special guests are lined up for the event including Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden, who will throw out the first pitch. Others scheduled to attend include Missouri State Highway Patrol Col. Sandra Karsten, Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri Commission on Human Rights Director Dr. Alisa Warren and Judge Marvin Teer, president of the Lincoln University of Missouri Board of Curators.
Also planning to attend are Sen. Doug Llbla, Rep. Don Rone, Sen. Kiki Curls and Bishop Ronnie Webb with the Mt. Calvary Power House Church of Poplar Bluff.
According to Gillespie, Community Day is an opportunity to engage with the public.
“This event allows everybody - the state agencies and local agencies - to work collectively and to show a united front by working with all the families and schools in the Bootheel. It also gives the vendors an opportunity to get information out to the community at large so they will know where to go for services,” said Gillespie. “Whether they are churches, agencies, politicians or local schools, they will be able to have some serious dialogue.”
Organizer Sherry Maxwell said last year’s inaugural event drew some 1,000 people. This year she is planning for at least 1,200 and noted she is still hearing from groups wanting to take part.
As a result of last year’s event, she said people are becoming more aware of and building relationships with law enforcement.
“I know the children I deal with are more comfortable with the officers who drop by,” said Maxwell who works with the LUCE Outreach Center at Charleston. “They are building a relationship and by building relationship I think we can make a change.”