Jamestown Apartments celebrates National Night Out

An apartment complex in Seymour has celebrated National Night Out for just over 20 years.

National Night Out is designed to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. It also is designed to provide an opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances, according to natw.org.

Myra Mellencamp, property manager of Jamestown Apartments, was one of the event organizers.

She said Jamestown has celebrated National Night Out since 2000 with the exception of 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“National Night Out is held in recognition of National Crime Prevention Day,” she said. “There are celebrations held throughout the country, but ours is the only one in Jackson County that we are aware of.”

Personnel with the Seymour Fire Department, Seymour Police Department and Jackson County Emergency Medical Services were on hand for the celebration to visit with residents and distribute informational material.

Kids and adults also could go inside an EMS ambulance and a firetruck to take a look around and have their questions answered by the first responders.

“We have several service providers that will have booths to share their information with our residents, we will have food, games and prizes and everyone gets a goody bag,” Mellencamp said. “We also have several vendors here to give information to our residents about things we think would be of interest to them.”

Agencies represented at the event included READ Jackson County, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, Anthem Blue Cross, Firefly and the Jackson County Learning Center.

Mellencamp was busy getting ready for the two-hour event, preparing to get people lined up so they could sign up for food and prizes they were going to give away.

“Jan Tatlock is our No. 1 volunteer who keeps our food pantry,” Mellencamp said. “We have to check temperatures every day, and she does that for us because that’s a Gleaners requirement.”

Tatlock said some of the things she does in her volunteer work at the Jamestown food pantry besides checking the temperature are helping unload the truck, stocking the shelves and handing out food.

“Then I help with things like this, and I’ve been busy all day trying to get things together,” she said. “Just anything they need done, I jump in to help do it.”

Tatlock said for the past several years, they’ve been the only ones locally to participate in National Night Out.

“We go around town and hand out flyers, and if any businesses want to donate things, they can take that flyer and use it as a write-off on their taxes,” she said. “It also lets people know what we’re doing, and we take donations from anybody and everybody.”

One of Mellencamp’s friends, Kim Baxter, has a 17-year-old son, Carter Baxter, who makes his own puppets, and he put on a puppet show during the event.

“I’m a puppeteer and make my own puppets,” Carter said. “I make puppet videos for my YouTube channel called @CarterBaxterOnYouTube, and sometimes, I make ‘South Park’ animation videos.”

He said he stitches his puppets together, and he had several with him at the Night Out event.

“The ones I have here today are the from The Muppets, Rowlf the Dog and Kermit the Frog,” he said. “I also made a puppet of myself that I have here today.”

Carter also is a 3D artist, and that’s what gave him the idea to make 3D paper puppets.

Another Jamestown resident, Kristy Pfaffenberger, had just gone through the food line and said she thought the event was pretty neat.

Dave Carlson and his wife, Janet, also were enjoying the picnic-style meal. The couple recently moved to the apartment complex from Lafayette because their son lives nearby, Janet said.

Adam Surface with the Seymour Police Department was on hand at the event for drug take-backs in case any residents had unused or unwanted medication they wanted to dispose.

Mellencamp said the Jackson County Public Library Bookmobile visits the apartments every two weeks during the summer and offers programs for the kids. That program just ended.

“We try to do a lot, and we did a summer meal program for the kids here this year, too,” she said. “We hadn’t done that before, but Margaret R. Brown Elementary School was closed this summer.”

She said in the past, kids went to Brown Elementary for summer meals, but since it was closed, Jamestown Apartments partnered with the school system and Meals on Wheels, which delivered the meals to them every day. The food program ended July 28, right before the start of the new school year.

“We have our own garden and fresh produce here, and we were chosen to participate in a program through Gleaners that provides fresh food for our residents,” Mellencamp said. “We get shipments, and that provider comes twice a month with fresh vegetables, and then another provider raises hogs and he provides fresh pork to us.”

She said there also is another provider in Seymour that makes soup, which comes in 2-pound frozen containers.

“We get soup usually once a month when we do the food pantry, so we have lots going on,” she said. “The food pantry we do once a month on a large scale, based on us getting food from Gleaners, but then if someone needs food during the month, we try to help them when we can.”

Mellencamp said they’ve been serving 50 to 60 households the last two months.

“We give out a lot of our food, and sometimes, we get private donations or sometimes, people give us food and we manage to keep going,” she said. “Not very long ago, our pantry was almost bare, and I took some pictures and put them on Facebook to share and got a few responses, and then when Gleaners delivered, we got a ton of stuff, more than normal.”

Mellencamp said her assistant, Wendy Cash, is instrumental in the food pantry, and they have several other volunteers, too.

“We’re very thankful for the people that help us because we get all these cases of food sometimes, and we have a hard time with it,” she said. “We have also partnered with Seymour Harvest Church, and they are our nonprofit sponsor because in order to get the food through Gleaners, we had to have a 501(c)(3) partner.”

Mellencamp said the church is wonderful to help them, and Jamestown has helped them by connecting the church with the fresh food program so they can get fresh food, too, so now, they work together.