Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2000

ANNA MONICA / L’Observateur / August 9, 2000

Crime, to Tom Weber, is not just a word or something he reads about in the paper. A victim of crime in his own home less than a year ago, this Garyvilleresident is determined to make a difference in his adopted community, and that includes making it a safer place to live.

He was in the group of citizens who met at the Garyville firehouse to discuss recent acts of vandalism in the community. His concern at the time was notonly vandalism, but the speeding and litter violations along his own street.

His stretch of property, about 600 feet, is continually strewn with debris thrown by people passing by, all which he cleans up daily, having pride in his property. Speeding vehicles are a main concern in every neighborhood, onhighways and even in parking lots. Most people fear and feel angry about thespeeding and littering, but Tom and some of his friends believe in doing something about it.

They got involved in last week’s Night Out Against Crime with Tom going throughout the community to let people know that he and Joyce Oncale would be hosting a party. For about a week Tom worked hard canvassing theneighborhoods, knocking on doors and inviting everyone he met to join together. A former “farm boy” from his native Indiana, Tom grew up withfew-to-no members of any minority group in his vicinity. Consequently, tohim, all people are simply fellow human beings, and that is how this former Navy man lives his life and how he issued the invites.

And, such a success the party was! Parish President Nicki Monica attended and agreed the party may have been the largest in the parish with about 150 people! People started to arrive about 6 p.m., and when I got there about 10p.m., some were still coming. The food was gone, but Tom was still dishingout watermelon, so no one was left out.

I was that late because I once again had league tennis, and Rhonda Rutledge, Dawn Yderstad and Corey Laborde were expecting me. Rhonda couldn’t attenda party in her neighborhood for the same reason. Therefore, I missedcouncilmen Allen St. Pierre and Cleveland Farlough, Za Maurin of the sheriff’soffice, Clerk of Court, Eliana DeFrancesch (attorney husband, Fred, was away on business), Red Brignac of the Garyville Fire Department and my community-minded brother, Carl.

On property lined with American flags on tall poles and with a boat filled with iced-down drinks and watermelons, the ice coming from the Garyville Fire Department, it was obvious that Tom Weber’s week-long efforts to get people together and against crime exceeded expectations. He gives much ofthe credit to Joyce, who knew which people to call while he did the footwork.

Neighbors Willie and Nelwyn LeBoeuf, who had done this before, were also very helpful as was pastor Wesley Anderson, Jr., of Mt. Zion Baptist ChurchNo. 2 in Garyville, who permitted Tom to speak there to interest and invitepeople.

Some neighbors arrived at the Weber home early that morning to bring items. Allen St. Pierre made one large pot of jambalaya, neighbor DannyScott made another and there were plenty more potluck dishes to satisfy appetites.

Tom still has concerns about his own close call with crime but believes no place is safe from it. He is convinced, though, that “if we get enforcement onthe street they won’t be coming through the door.” Speaking of his ownsafety precautions, which includes plenty of lighting, he says, “Everything around here now either lights, walks or talks.” Before the next official “night out” Tom has plans to host another get- together to get a hold on crime in the community.

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