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Central Terry task force looks to make Billings neighborhood safer

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Posted at 1:41 PM, Oct 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-23 08:22:17-04

BILLINGS - People living around South 12th Street West say there's a lot of crime and activity at the end of road.

Crimes, illicit activity, and vandalism are destroying the area, according to some neighbors.

Some say they do not feel safe.

They're concerned about children in the area, including what effect all that may have on children who use Commanche Park.

The Central Terry Task Force says it can bring people together to help the neighborhood.

The hope is that cleaning up will make the neighborhood better in an area that has attracted crime.

"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."

Courtney and her husband, Bryan, live on Foster Lane, and 12th Street West is right on the other side of her backyard fence.

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

Some of the crime has happened across the road.

"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 into his units. It's just an area that's pretty dark at night. Very busy."

Rep. Mike Yakawich, R-Billings, was once the chair of the Southside Task Force and has seen the benefits of cleaning up.

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

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

"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."

The bench is now secure, the windows still have the damage and Darcy Russell and her fiance Ritch Raygo say they have to be careful.

"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 about 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."