Manti Citizen Corp setting
up block captains
By Ben Lasseter
MANTI—A group of Manti residents are organizing the city into “blocks” to set up neighborhood watch, emergency disaster preparedness and civic education.
The group will send “block captains,” or overseers of five to 10 households, into Manti neighborhoods this week to begin the neighborhood watch program.
Kaitlyn Gilbert, one of the primary organizers, said the block captains will distribute green and red cards to their blocks, which people can display in their windows as a way to communicate if they need help.
“This is a way everyone in Manti can know somebody is watching their back,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert and Russell Hatch, who has spoken for the initiative at Manti city council meetings, said they had 25 volunteers and were looking for 75 more in Manti. They have followed the Citizens Corps format, a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Citizens Corps offers emergency response training resources designed to help communities establish groups like the one in Manti and connect with others nearby.
Gilbert and Hatch said they hoped to continue to assemble a local group diverse with skills and resources, such as in medical training, radio operation, involvement with local religious and government groups and community organization.
“We’ve been poised to launch for months,” Gilbert said. She said the group had hoped for more support from the city by now, but had received little response since Hatch first presented the plan to the Manti City Council.
They decided to begin sending out block captains as scheduled because “times are pressing,” especially amid the pandemic. They also said elements of the city’s current emergency response plan needed attention for issues such as low food reserves and “outdated” protocols.
Gilbert and Hatch have divided Manti into blocks of 5-10 households. As of now, the Manti Citizens Corps has enough volunteers to assign block captains to about one-sixth of the city. They will strive to unify neighborhoods in preparedness to respond to any trouble, starting with the color-signal system.
Gilbert said she hoped this first phase could help to raise awareness of the group and attract more volunteers so they could provide coverage to more local households.
Hatch encouraged people outside of Manti to get involved as well. He also said it was not necessary for someone to live on a given block in order to sign up as a captain for it. He said he wanted to connect Sanpete County residents in other cities with the Citizens Corps program in order to start other local groups, too.
Ultimately, Hatch said he hoped the group would grow to a county-wide organization of individual teams offering surveillance and teaching safety awareness in communities all over.
To volunteer or contact the Citizens Corps group in Manti, visit SanpeteReady.org. Then, click on the “contact” tab.