Even a veteran lawman can be caught off guard at times. Such was the case Monday evening when Deputy Barry Whitfield arrived at a neighborhood watch meeting and was greeted by his little granddaughters.
The Northview Acres Neighborhood Watch Program decided to honor Whitfield, who had never missed a meeting since the group formed more than a decade ago. His family was there as a surprise.
Whitfield coordinates all neighborhood watch programs in areas under the watch of the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is one of the most active ones that we have presently,” Whitfield said. “Some of the others come forth on a need basis, whether it’s once a year or twice a year.”
“This is one of the proactive ones out here in Northview. The reason for that is they’ve got some people out here that are really concerned, they love doing this , and they’re trying to keep the neighborhood clean,” said McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall. “This group is really proactive.”
“If we had more neighborhoods like this Thomson will be a better place to live,” Marshall added.
The sheriff said anyone wanting to start a neighborhood watch can contact Whitfield at the sheriff’s office.
Whitfield said another very active neighborhood watch group is the one in Dearing, which also meets monthly. Because of COVID-19, Northview has not been meeting in person in recent months, opting for online meetings. However, Monday the members came together in an open field for the monthly meeting so they could recognize the deputy.
“Deputy Whitfield, on behalf of Northview Acres and the Neighborhood Watch Program, we would like you to know your leadership and dedication have not gone unnoticed,” said Jeanette Blackmon, president of the neighborhood watch. “Thanks for presiding over and being an active part of our community and for the past 18 years.”
“You’re stellar attendance is duly noted,” she said, as she explained he has never missed a neighborhood watch meeting at Northview Acres.
“You have always listened to us regarding our concerns, and you have done everything within your power to resolve issues and concerns,” she said.
On behalf of the group, Blackmon and Markita Battle, treasurer, presented a gift bag containing a tray personalized with an appreciation message from the group.
“I am appreciative, but more soever than anything I am thankful for you all have given me the gusto and the energy to continue to do what I do in this community,” said Whitfield. “I can’t take it all upon myself because you all have pushed, you have asked, you have emailed. My sheriff, he has never said no to anything.”
“I honor you all and I thank each and everyone of you all not for what you have done, but for what you continue to do,” he added.
Whitfield praised the group for always finding ways to do things for the children in the community, whether recognizing graduating seniors or hosting a drive-thru trunk or treat for Halloween.