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Project’s goal: Improve city through better neighborhoods

A yearlong project to encourage better neighborhoods in Sterling has great potential to improve the community. We encourage churches and the general public to become involved.

Published: Saturday, March 16, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST

Neighborliness is a virtue that was long touted by Fred Rogers of children’s television fame.

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” encouraged friendliness and understanding to generations of tots.

Those traits are worthwhile for adults to practice, too.

That appears to be the goal of an initiative sponsored by the city of Sterling and the Whiteside Community Action Network, aka WeCAN.

Mayor Skip Lee, who is also president of WeCAN, believes building better neighborhoods would be good for everyone in Sterling.

“The ultimate goal is, we want every citizen of Sterling to know their neighbor on both sides, front and back,” Lee said.

“It helps reduce neighborhood conflict,” he added, noting that neighbors who know one another are less likely to be involved in squabbles.

In addition, neighborhoods where people are more connected, and possess a better sense of community, are less fertile ground for drugs and gangs.

But how can people get to know their neighbors better? Particularly these days, when people spend so much of their free time indoors watching TV and using computers, smart phones, tablets, and other electronic gadgets?

Lee believes Sterling’s churches are the answer.

He proposes that churches across the city conduct open houses on a weekend in late April, not as religious events but as “We’re a neighborhood” events. Neighborhood residents would be invited to stop in, meet each other, and talk about neighborhood development.

Future neighborhood-building events are planned: neighborhood parties in June, National Night Out Against Crime in August, and a culmination celebration in October.

We encourage local churches and residents to be open to Lee’s proposals. Several meetings to discuss the concept have already taken place. Another meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Sterling Public Library, 102 W. Third St., and the public is invited.

As the point man for the Sterling neighborhood-building effort, Lee deserves credit for promoting a program that has great potential to achieve positive results.

And if Lee starts wearing a Mr. Rogers-style cardigan sweater and sneakers, well, just greet him with a friendly, “Hi, neighbor!”

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