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Neighborhood safety in the focus of the Central Terry task force



Billings, Montana – There is a lot of activity and criminality around the end of South 12th Street West, according to the locals.

Some residents claim that the neighborhood is being destroyed by crimes, illegal activity, and graffiti.

A few claim they don’t feel secure.

They are worried about how all of that might affect the kids who come to Commanche Park.

According to the Central Terry Task Force, it is possible to unite people in support of the area.

In a community that has seen an increase in crime, cleaning up the area is intended to improve the neighborhood.

“There’s a lot of people that accidentally come down here,” said Valerie Courtney, chair for the Billings Central Terry Neighborhood Task Force. “But the majority of the people as you can see, it’s a dead end.”

“Two weeks ago on a Friday there was at least 30 cars back here.”

12th Street West is just across Courtney’s backyard fence from her home on Foster Lane, where she resides with her spouse, Bryan.

“Mostly it’s the sex, which is sad, but we need to do something about it,” Courtney said about what happens on 12th.

Over the route, there have been some crimes committed.

“This gentleman here that owns the storage unit, has constantly had to redo his fences,” Courtney said. “Because they’ll break into the fences. They break in broken into his units. It’s just an area that’s pretty dark at night. Very busy.”

Former Southside Task Force leader Rep. Mike Yakawich, R-Billings, has firsthand experience with the advantages of cleanup efforts.”

“If you keep it clean, people are hesitant to litter,” said Yakawich.

The Billings Central Terry Neighborhood Task Force met on Thursday night at Top Line Family Haircare, which has also been vandalized. Valerie Courtney is the head of the group, and her husband Bryan is the vice-chair.

“Two big windows shot out again,” said Darcy Russell, owner of Top Line. “All our rain gutters, our flowers hanging out from the building stolen, the tents got stolen. And a lot of vagrants up and down the alley.”

Although the windows are still damaged, the bench is now safe, and Darcy Russell and her fiancé Ritch Raygo advise caution.

“I’ve had to run them off,” Raygo said about people and the alley behind the business.”

“Everybody knows what that sound is,” Russell said avbout carrying tasers.

“Biggest thing is getting to know your neighbors and looking out for each other looking out for kids.”

“If we don’t speak up and we don’t become a community and work together, it won’t last, “Courtney said. “We’re not going to let that happen.”


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