BLANCHESTER — The police department will host an amateur soap box derby on Saturday, Aug. 12 for children and teens ages 6-17.
The race will be held on North Columbus Street between LeAnn Court and Johns Street and is for gravity-powered homemade race cars.
Test runs will begin at 9 a.m. with racing beginning at 11 a.m. Racers will be divided into four classes by age: 6-8, 9-11, 12-14 and 15-17. Children need not reside in Blanchester in order to participate.
By making the announcement now, we are hoping to give kids in town plenty of time to construct their racers, giving them something positive to do during their free time now that school is out for the summer.
Each car must comply with certain dimensional requirements and must be equipped with a brake and steering. A complete set of rules — purposely designed to be as simple and few as possible — as well as suggested brake and steering designs are available at the Mayor’s Office, the BPA Office and in the front entryway of the police station.
In order to assist youngsters with design and construction:
• A regulation soap box derby car will be on display in the lobby of Village Hall beginning June 19, and is provided as an example to assist with brake and steering design. No one is expected to produce a car of this quality. The car was donated by a Blanchester resident.
• The Blanchester Church of Christ has agreed to hold a design and construction workshop on Saturday, July 8 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to help kids and parents who might be struggling with building their cars.
This workshop is meant to provide guidance only, so racers and parents should plan to supply their own materials.
During my 10 years as police chief we have tried to provide wholesome activities for kids that help encourage friendly interaction between police officers and our young citizens through our “Police Sports Partnership Program.”
Those efforts have been frustrated in recent years by budget cuts: we formerly sponsored a youth baseball team and held summer Skate Nights, but budget cuts forced reduction of police staff, leaving us with too few officers to staff these programs. We used to hold teen swim nights, but the swimming pool was shut down two years ago, which curtailed that effort.
It is my hope this program, which will require only one day of intense staffing, will help us regain some footing in our youth outreach efforts, while giving youngsters a summer project and something to look forward to.
The majority of the cost of the soap box derby is being paid by the Citizens for Adequate Policing Trust Fund. The Trust is also paying a portion of one police officer’s salary this year to help make at least some staffing available for planning and organizing these sorts of events.
Curless Printing has donated posters for the event, and volunteers from the Blanchester Masonic Lodge will help staff the race. We are grateful to all of the organizations that have come forward to offer their support.
‘Idle Hands’ needs help
“Operation Idle Hands”, a police department effort to link adults with work to offer with teenagers who are seeking summer work, is at a crossroads — several teenagers have posted their names and phone numbers in the “work wanted” section of the bulletin board, but no adult, not one, has posted their name and phone number in the “help wanted” section.
The program will only be successful if we have participation from both groups. We have some really good kids here in Blanchester, and many of them need a chance to show that they are responsible and are willing to work.
If you’re an adult in town, would you please consider giving them that chance?
Scott Reinbolt is the Village of Blanchester’s Chief of Police.