Safety program for seniors launched

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Safety for senior citizens is the goal of the Newman Project that pays tribute to area couple Odis and Doris Newman, who were killed in March 2005.

“They are a couple who had a big impact on Portales and Roosevelt County,” said 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler during a kickoff for the program Monday at Valencia Elementary School in Portales.

After the slaying of the Newmans, the district attorney’s office began to receive calls from senior citizens in the community, asking how they could protect themselves. The project was developed to provide senior citizens with safety measures for their homes, Chandler said.

Equipment available free to seniors includes deadbolts, peepholes, motion detector lights, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

Senior citizens will be able to contact the district attorney’s office and request an official visit them in their home. The staff will then determine the type of safety equipment that needs to be installed to ensure the senior citizens’ safety, Chandler said.

Project funding will come from donations by Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Clovis, other local businesses and money allocated from the New Mexico Legislature secured by Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell. Lowe’s crews will install the items.

“We want every senior citizen in this area to sleep comfortably at night knowing they are safe,” Chandler said. “We want everyone to just take advantage of it.”

Students at Valencia Elementary School were instrumental in helping with the project. The winning logo for the project was designed by fifth-grader Cody Stewart, who was awarded a U.S. Savings Bond from Portales National Bank Monday.

“I’m amazed and surprised,” Cody said when he learned he had the winning logo.

Valencia Elementary School Principal Todd Morris said involving the students in the project was a great way for them to help senior citizens in the community. Many of the students have grandparents, and this is a way for them to help ensure their safety, Morris said.

“It goes beyond helping the senior citizens,” he said. “It helps the whole community.”

Vickie Dixon, the Newmans’ daughter, was one of the speakers Monday at the program’s introduction.

“It is just so special for my mom and dad to know that each senior citizen in the community will be taken care of,” Dixon said. “To me this is a miracle. I never dreamed that something so fantastic could come out of something so tragic.”

Safety Tips for the home:

• Lock doors and windows even when home.

• Install a panoramic peephole and use it when answering the door.

• Keep the outside of your home illuminated at night.

• Report suspicious activity to the police.

• Join or form a neighborhood watch program.

• Test smoke detectors once a month, replace batteries once a year.

• Keep a fire extinguisher in the home.

• Be sure your street numbers are well marked and easy to read for emergency personnel.

Source: Ninth Judicial District Attorneys Office.

For more information about the Newman project, call 769-2246.