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Police Chief Stephens was Featured Speaker at Association Meeting

(February 20, 2006) Chief Darrel Stephens of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was the featured speaker at the 2006 meeting of the Steele Creek Residents Association. (See photographs below.) He said that one of the biggest challenges of the Police Department was keeping up with growth.

The Steele Creek Division is one of the largest patrol districts in the system in both population and area. It comprises nearly 100 square miles in Southwest Mecklenburg County, extending north to I-85 and east to Billy Graham Parkway and South Boulevard. The population has increased from 48,000 to 66,000 in the last five years.

Captain Diego Anselmo is the Division Commander.

A key to fighting crime is the development of partnerships between the police and the community. Chief Stephens said the department wants to spend more time on crime prevention to reduce criminals' opportunities.

The Steele Creek Division is a pioneer in the Citizens on Patrol program in which volunteers assist officers by relieving some of their workload.

Gangs and gang activity has increased within Charlotte and the Steele Creek community. A major reason youths join gangs is that they do not have a stable family life or good adult role models. Gangs provide the structure they are looking for. A key to combating gangs is to provide youth with positive, alternative activities.

If you need assistance from a police officer in an emergency, call 911, but if you would like to discuss an ongoing problem, such as repeated vandalism in your community, or would like to organize  Neighborhood Watch in your community, call the Steele Creek Division at 704-336-7800 and ask to speak to a community police officer. The office is not staffed for 24 hours a day, so if no one is available, leave a message on voicemail. (See CMPD's Steele Creek Division Services Steele Creek (2/26/2004).)

Chief Stephens was introduced by Mecklenburg County Sheriff Jim Pendergraph, who is a lifelong resident of Steele Creek. Chief Stephens discussed how the Police and Sheriff's Departments work closely on various issues, such as studying how drug and alcohol usage influences criminal activity and the need for increased resources in the criminal justice system.

Linda Blackwelder gave an update on activities of the Steele Creek Library Association. The association raised $93,000 in its fund drive in 2004. This has enabled the association to provide our new library and the library staff with many extras that were not available in their regular budget and has made the Steele Creek Library the envy of the system.

The next goal for the association is to improve the garden area. They hope to organize a Garden Committee to work in the garden and also are looking for more donations to finance improvements. (If you are interested, Come Help in the Library Garden March 4.)

Chris Thomas of Childress-Klein discussed their new RiverGate shopping center, which is under construction at the corner of Highway 49 and 160. Home Depot opened last November and Super Target is on schedule to open by this July. Other stores that have signed on are Best Buy, Marshalls, Office Max, PetSmart, CVS Pharmacy, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Fuel Pizza, and Carrabbas Italian Grill restaurant. Most will open by next fall.

Childress-Klein also is talking to another apparel store, a book store, and two upscale theme restaurants.

They are using a traditional architectural style that emphasizes native stone and other natural materials. RiverGate will feature a pedestrian-friendly hub at its center. They also will be building a greenway trail along Walkers Branch at the eastern edge of the center. This will have connections to the center, where cyclists will find ample bike racks.

Karl Froelich, President of The Steele Creek Residents Association, acknowledged the Lower Lake Wylie Association, which made a major difference in the way The Palisades is being developed. Developers reduced the number of residences and has devoted more resources to water management. The Lower Lake Wylie Association has disbanded and made a contribution to the Steele Creek Community Trail Committee.

Karl also is Chairman of the Steele Creek Community Trail Committee and gave an update on its activities. The group has made major progress in the acquisition of land for trails along Steele Creek and Walkers Branch. Most property owners along the route are donating right-of-way easements. The Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department and Mecklenburg County Real Estate Services are working with property owners to get the land surveyed and transferred to the county.

The Steele Creek Residents Association was pleased to provide an opportunity for the approximately 125 attendees to learn more about activities in the community and to interact with their neighbors. The association wishes to express its thanks to Pastor Bob Jack and members of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church for providing space for the meeting.

Read an article about the meeting in the Lake Wylie Pilot for February 21.

Residents Association President Karl Froelich and Mecklenburg County Sheriff Jim Pendergraph listen to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Darrel Stephens.

Pastor Bob Jack of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church welcomes Steele Creek residents.

Linda Blackwelder gives an update on the Steele Creek Library.

The Steele Creek Community Trail Committee had T-Shirts for sale.

Chief Stephens addresses the group.

Approximately 125 persons attended the meeting.

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