Landmark College hosts 'trial run' of night out

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PUTNEY — The campus at Landmark College was an opportunity for a trial run of a program the director of campus safety hopes to host twice a year starting in 2020.

"Aug. 6 is National Night Out, an opportunity for law enforcement and others to meet people in the community and vice versa," said Orlando Alvarez, who has been the director of campus security at Landmark for two years. "Concerns could be anything from unpicked-up garbage to home invasions to car break-ins."

Alvarez noted that Landmark is not experiencing any sort of crime wave in any form, but he thinks inviting emergency responders to the campus to hang out, eat some hot dogs and ice cream and talk to students and staff is a good way to get to know each other.

While the turnout was sparse , Alvarez said Tuesday night's event was a good trial run for when nearly 400 students will be on campus for the fall and spring semesters.

"We're almost at the end of the summer semester, which is on Aug. 9," he said. Then there will be a two-week break before the faculty and staff start getting ready for the fall semester, with new student orientation from Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 and classes beginning Sept. 3.

Landmark College hosts several summer programs on its campus from June through August, both for visiting college, high school, and middle school students as well as Landmark students taking summer courses.

The total number of visiting students on campus this summer was 230 between June and August. The number does not include dozens of Landmark College students who are on campus for two separate summer sessions.

During the National Night Out event on August 6, two of these programs were in their final weeks, and the total number of students on campus was approximately 70. 

"We're looking at March 2020 and October 2020 for our next National Night Out events," said Alvarez.

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Tom Goddard, the chief of the Putney Fire Department, was on hand with about a half-dozen of his firefighters.

"We're here just like everywhere else in town — for medical calls, automatic fire alarms, things like that," he said.

Goddard said it's been a number of years since Landmark hosted such an event, so it was a good opportunity for him to meet the new director of campus safety and the new assistant director, Eric Johnson, who recently retired from the Brattleboro Police Department.

Goddard also said it was an opportunity for him to talk to students and see if any of them have any interest in signing on with the Putney Fire Department while they're attending Landmark.

"We take every single opportunity we have to try to create some positive impact on the department and get some people in the door," he said. "Are we always successful? No, but we certainly don't give up."

The Putney Fire Department currently has 18 on-call members, who get paid for training and any time they respond to an emergency. At a recent Town Meeting, town voters approved transitioning the department from volunteer to on-call.

"Certainly there has been a shift in morale," said Goddard. "It's making things more legitimate for them, being paid per hour for the call time. And it's the right thing to do."

To learn more about National Night Out, visit www.ntaw.org. To learn more about Landmark College, visit www.landmark.edu.

Bob Audette can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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