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    Spring Security Update

    At the May 8 GDCA board meeting, Officer Haley Stafford with the Baton Rouge Police Department gave your Board an overview of crime and crime prevention tips for our neighborhood. She reported that the Garden District is a small area of District 2, which has a very large geographical footprint. (District 2 is an area that includes the Mississippi River levee to Independence Park, to Staring Lane, Florida to Airline, and Tigerland).

    Officer Stafford stated that burglary (automobile, garage, and shed) is the most common crime in our neighborhood. Offenders are looking for lawn and garden equipment, bicycles, electronics and guns that can easily be sold on the street to pawn shops or even on-line. A recent victim of a burglary found his stolen tools for sale on the website “Let Go”. She added that firearms stolen out of automobiles are quickly sold on the street to buyers who are not legally able to buy firearms (unable to pass background checks, etc). She asked that everyone please do not leave firearms in your vehicles.

    Officer Stafford also reported that she and her fellow officers see posted photos/video footage and read information about crime on Nextdoor.com that is not being provided to the police. She strongly recommended that residents provide all useful information regarding all crime, including security camera footage to the police. She stated that more and more, the crimes being solved are because of security camera photos or videos provided to detectives. Homeowners, she said, often request DNA samples be taken at the crime scene but she stated that each division is only allowed to submit ten DNA samples per month.

    Officer Stafford asked that we please be patient with investigations. She indicated that people may be reluctant to report the crimes because they think nothing will be done. However, it may take two or three weeks before a detective contacts you after your initial report because their docket is so full. She strongly urged neighborhood residents to report ALL criminal activity. An example, she gave of how this can make a difference: She said, if a perpetrator goes to court, accused of five burglaries (but actually burglarized ten homes or cars), the judge will impose a lighter sentence than if the judge knows that he has burglarized ten homes or cars. She stressed that it is very important that we report all crimes so that habitual offenders are dealt with properly.

    She summarized her presentation with the following best practices that we all should follow to enhance the safety of our neighborhood:

    • REMOVE firearms from vehicles
    • INSTALL security cameras
    • LOCK your vehicles
    • RECORD serial numbers of your tools, lawn equipment, bicycles, etc.
    • REPORT all crimes and suspicious activities to police

    Officer Stafford is our contact with the Garden District’s Off-Duty Patrol and she pledged to keep us informed on issues of mutual concern. We are all grateful to Officer Stafford for sharing her thoughts and suggestions and the association and its neighbors look forward to further interactions with her.

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    John WilliamsSpring Security Update
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    GDCA Hosts 2018 Spring Festivities

    Your GDCA has been very busy with annual spring activities including the neighborhood garage sale, Easter egg hunt celebration, and crawfish boil.

    Garden District Annual Garage Sale

    Gorgeous spring weather on March 24 made for a wonderful morning of shopping in the Garden District during the neighborhood-wide garage sale. More than 30 homes participated in the sale. A survey of participants revealed that no one will be able to retire on their sale earnings but all had a great time and enjoyed the visits and interaction with shoppers.

    An added convenience to this year’s sale was the Salvation Army truck that came around after the sale was over and picked up leftover sale items that were put on the curb at the participants’ houses. No need to repack those unsold items, AND those remaining goods will be put to good use by the Salvation Army servicing those in need.

    Do you have ideas to improve future garage sale events? Would you like to see added activities such as live music? Please contact any board member at [email protected] with your suggestions. We’d love to hear from you.

    Easter Egg Hunt

    The weather cooperated once more for the annual Easter egg hunt, held Sunday afternoon, March 25, at the City-Brooks Park. About 50 children along with family members and friends participated in the event. Hundreds of stuffed eggs were hidden on the park grounds by neighborhood volunteers. Every child participating in the hunt was able to return home with Easter eggs in their baskets. GDCA president John Williams’ performance as the giant Easter bunny was a big hit as he handed out carrots and took pictures with the kids. Our neighbor Nels Anderson, once again donated adorable ceramic egg cups for each child. The children chose their own cup as a special keepsake. A huge garden district “thank-you” to Nels, for your continuing generosity that adds so much to the festivities and to John, for giving our children a sense of Easter wonderment. Families enjoyed refreshments and had a wonderful time watching the kids hunt eggs and visiting with neighbors.

    Crawfish Boil

    It was an absolutely perfect sunny, cool afternoon for the Garden District’s annual crawfish boil held Sunday, April 15. Approximately 250 Garden District residents and guests attended the boil. Jason Petrie, of Tru Crawfish prepared the luscious crustaceans. Jambalaya and drinks were also included. The kids enjoyed games and a bounce house to burn off extra energy.  We all screamed for free ice cream that was generously provided by Red River Bank. Two of our Baton Rouge police officers who were providing safety and security at the gathering joined us at the table to partake in the delectable eats. They were a most welcomed addition to the party. Everyone enjoyed visiting with neighbors, listening to lively music, sucking dem heads and pinching dem some tails.  What better way to spend a spring afternoon!

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    John WilliamsGDCA Hosts 2018 Spring Festivities
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    Neighbor-Owned Businesses

    Are you a Garden District resident and own your own business? We would very much like to spotlight neighborhood residents and their business in the newsletter. Our aim is to make folks aware of the talented entrepreneurs living in our own community and hopefully generate some business for you. If you would like your business showcased in the newsletter, please submit the following information by email to [email protected];- your name,

    • your business name and location,
    • year it was established,
    • a bit about the business itself.

    We would love to hear how the business came about and all the unique aspects of your operation. Please include a contact number in case we need additional information about the business.  Also include the year that you moved into the Garden District.

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    John WilliamsNeighbor-Owned Businesses
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    Garden District Saplings

    We are also interested in spotlighting our neighborhood youth. Do you have a child or know a neighborhood child (up to age 18) who:

    • performs volunteer work, has organized an activity with the goal of improving the community, has received special recognition for an educational, sport, music or artistic accomplishment?
    • hustles to help out their neighbor in everyday matters, or performs activities that warrant recognition?

    They deserve acknowledgment and we want to feature them in your Garden District newsletter. Information regarding the child can be submitted by email to [email protected]  Please include the following information:

    • child’s name
    • home-schooled or school attending and grade level
    • recognition received
    • activity that is making a positive impact in our community

    Let’s recognize and applaud them for all the good things that they accomplish every day. They are our future.

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    John WilliamsGarden District Saplings
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    Garden District Civic Association Hosts 2018 Annual Meeting

    The Garden District Association’s annual meeting was held Sunday, February 18, 2018, at Circa 1857. The fine staff at Yvette Marie’s Cafe graciously provided refreshments for the approximately 60 members in attendance.

    GDCA President John Williams presented a “state of the association” address. Agenda items included:

    • Security
    • Membership Drive
    • Annual Activities Provided by the Association
    • Health and Vitality of Our Historic Live Oak Trees
    • Official Neighborhood Boundaries

    Congressman Garrett Graves attended and was most accommodating by addressing issues and concerns of the association, neighborhood and his congressional district. Congressman Graves spoke of the continued traffic problems in the city and the local railroad crossing closures as well. He stated that the voices of concerned citizens were heard loud and clear regarding the railroad crossing closure at South Boulevard as this closure is being revisited and may be left as is.

    2018 GDCA Board of Directors

    Members of your 2018 GDCA board include:

    • John Williams, President
    • Claire Pittman, Vice President
    • Liz Spaulding, Treasurer
    • Jenny Iverstine, Secretary
    • Returning board members include Mike Schexnayder, Ari Kocen, Lynn Hosie, Willie – Fontenot, Mary Fontenot, Greta Corona, Richard Ray, Justin Kozak and Chris Suba.
    • Newly elected board members are Eric Troutman, Heather Day and Joy Couvillion.
    • Retired board members are Charles Sutcliff, Chris Barrett and Sean Love. Much thanks to Charles, Chris and Sean for serving their neighbors and this organization with their time and talents.
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    John WilliamsGarden District Civic Association Hosts 2018 Annual Meeting
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    Letter from the President: An Update on Security

    Dear Garden District Neighbor,

    Over the last few months, the Garden District Civic Association Board has been re-evaluating the best way to secure and protect the neighborhood using the financial resources provided by our annual dues. This process has led us to review and consider several options over the last few months.

    We have spoken with many fellow Garden District neighbors, both dues and non-dues paying. We have spoken to board members and community leaders of other neighborhoods in our area. We have solicited and received proposals (including sample patrols) from private security firms and finally, we have met with police officers who have worked in our neighborhood and as part of our off-duty patrols.

    After much consideration and weighing all options as a board, as of September 1, we have decided to continue working with the Baton Rouge Police Department. In coming to this decision however, we have also agreed to a new structure for these patrols which are intended to address previously identified shortcomings:

    We will be provided more consistent patrols on a monthly basis, with more days being covered.

    We have implemented a new tracking and reporting method for police officers to track their time

    There is a new “always rolling and patrolling” policy with the officers while they are in the neighborhood.

    We have looked at the entire year of patrols and budgeted additional patrols at peak times as needed.

    A new Coordinator has also been appointed to serve our neighborhood. Officer Jacob Wheat will now be managing all monthly off-duty police officers patrolling the Garden District going forward. Officer Wheat comes to us with an impressive resume as he has served as the Live After Five police coordinator for the last five years and works downtown on a daily basis. Officer Wheat has met with the board and will be in direct contact with the board on a weekly and monthly basis going forward.

    While there is really no correct answer on how best to secure our neighborhood and and unfortunately no proven way to prevent crime, we believe that this conversation and discussion has allowed the board and our off-duty police officers to better understand the needs of the neighborhood. In the end, we believe we can all work together to provide a safe and beautiful neighborhood for our families and friends to live in.

    If you have not already done so, please consider becoming a member of the Garden District Civic Association by paying your monthly, quarterly, or annual dues as these funds are how we pay for the off-duty police officers and their monthly patrols. The more members we have, the more consistent patrols we can provide for everyone. For those wishing to contribute above and beyond existing dues, an additional page has been set up where you can contribute specifically to security patrols in the neighborhood: [https://gdcabr.org/product/additional-security-funds/].

    If you have any additional questions, comments, concerns or if you would like to get involved, please reply to this email or contact us at [[email protected]].

    Sincerely,

    John Christian Williams

    President, Garden District Civic Association

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    John WilliamsLetter from the President: An Update on Security
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