Friday, December 14, 2001

Friends made in block club




By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Sometimes race relations work best at a grass-roots level, when people can mingle, get acquainted and solve problems.

        Silverton's block watch club has been a forum for bringing races together in that northern Cincinnati suburb of 5,500 residents for about 15 years.

        When the racial makeup of the city moved from predominantly white to an almost even mix, several block clubs formed.

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        “The Silverton Block Watch Club took the lead in bringing the races together,” said John A. Smith, vice mayor of Silverton.

        “It is very diverse. People just come together and do what needs to be done without even thinking about race.”

        The Silverton Police Department's crime prevention officer, Jim Replogle, serves as the police liaison for the club and has been a force in bridging the gap between races.

        “People who didn't even know each other have come together in this club,” he said.

        “They go to Reds games together, have cookouts together, and conduct fund-raisers. It is common to see blacks and whites conducting a car wash together to raise money for projects out here.”

        Dottie Schwartz, a member, said the club of about 60 families has brought in resource people to educate and inform. For instance, the club brought in John Leahr, a Tuskegee Airman who lives in Kennedy Heights, to talk about his World War II experiences.

       



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