‘We have kids out here enjoying themselves’
Mattawa Police Officer Francisco Araiza (right) gives a stick-on badge to Eli Fernandez (left) during the first National Night Out in Mattawa Aug. 2.
Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald
Maryana Martinez runs through the fountain of water supplied by Grant County Fire District 8 during National Night Out in Mattawa.
Mattawa Police Department officer Francisco Araiza talks with some of the children at National Night Out.
Mattawa Police Chief Robert Salinas (right) talks to a Mattawa resident during National Night Out.
Librado Barajas distributes the hot dogs at Mattawa’s first ever National Night Out.
Jose Marroquin plays a beanbag toss game during National Night Out in Mattawa Aug. 2.
A U.S. Marine gives a hand to a child trying out the chinup bar.
The tower goes down, to the chagrin of the children playing, during National Night Out in Mattawa.
Grant County Fire District 8 brought a fire truck that sprayed a lot of water to Mattawa’s National Night Out, and Maryana Martinez (pictured) took advantage.
Staff Writer | August 8, 2022 1:20 AM
MATTAWA — Children and adults got a chance to look at law enforcement and fire vehicles - lights flashing and everything - play games and run in and out of a big sprinkler, courtesy of Grant County Fire District 8, at the first ever National Night Out in Mattawa on Aug. 2.
Mattawa Police Chief Robert Salinas organized NNO in Mattawa, having been part of similar events when he worked in Granger, Ellensburg and Toppenish, he said on Aug. 2.
National Night Out gives law enforcement and fire agencies a chance to talk to people in their communities, he said.
“Basically it’s designed to improve relationships with the community, between officers and community members,” Salinas said in a July 7 presentation to the Mattawa City Council. “It’s a way for them to meet the police department and the police department to meet members of the community.”
The children in Hund Memorial Park were investigating the patrol vehicles and wearing the stick-on badges given out by the MPD.
“That’s what I wanted,” Salinas said.
“It’s relationship building, and I think that’s key,” he said in an earlier interview. “It’s a way to increase connections between those who serve and the neighborhoods out there.”
National Night Out also attracted organizations that wanted to advertise their services and highlight how people could access those services.
“We have vendors that have brought information for the community,” Salinas said.
Those organizations included Mattawa Community Health, the Grant County Health District, Columbia Basin Health Association, OIC and New Hope. Their booths had plenty of information, along with water bottles and lanyards, magnets and other goodies.
Sandra Valdvinos of the Mattawa Clinic said National Night Out provided a good opportunity to talk about the services available at the clinic, and for the clinic staff to get out and about in the community.
“To show (residents) that we’re here to support them,” Valdovinos said.
“Community outreach,” said Erick Alvarez, who was running the U.S. Air Force booth.
Alvarez also spent time answering questions from curious children about the Air Force, he said.
Fire District 8 brought a fire truck and sprayed one end of the park with a stream of water that arced high in the sky. The U.S. Marine Corps brought a chinup bar, and Marines provided a little help for children who were too short to reach it.
The Air Force came with a beanbag game, and the Washington State Patrol distributed plastic replicas of their signature hats. Alvarez played a few rounds of the beanbag game with the children, and the MPD officers tried their hand at the game too. The MPD handed out the stick-on badges and distributed information for parents.
There were water bottles and lanyards aplenty throughout the park. One girl brought the items she had collected from the various tables to her mom; she surveyed the pile critically and decided she had dropped something.
Salinas said he wants to expand National Night Out in Mattawa in the future, adding individual block parties eventually.
Mattawa Police officers cooked the hot dogs and distributed the ice cream and ice pops. A DJ filled the air with music.
“We have kids out here enjoying themselves,” Salinas said. “It’s good.”
Cheryl Schweizer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.