April 24, 2001
Anti-crime lemonade stand moves to Palm Bay
April 21, 2001
By Jennifer Elli
PALM BAY - Four months after Melbourne Police unveiled their crime and drug-deterring lemonade stand dubbed Operation Squeeze, the program is heading to Palm Bay.
Starting at 6 p.m. today, police officers and volunteers will set up the stand at the Powell subdivision at the corner of Palm Bay Road and Florida Avenue. Free lemonade and anti-crime literature will be offered to anyone who stops by.
Palm Bay Police officer Dennis Peebles will staff the stand with Sheralyn Blake and Greg Konieczka of the Brevard County State Attorney's office.
"We have been working with the residents to get the Powell area cleaned up," said Blake, Neighborhood Advocate for the State Attorney's Office. "The residents live in fear and we want them to have at least one night off where they can go out and enjoy their subdivision."
Blake said residents worry about drug sales and people hanging around street corners and local businesses along Florida Avenue. It has gotten so bad, Blake said, that some parents will not allow their children to walk alone to the neighborhood store.
"These thugs have taken over for their trade a residential area," Melbourne Community Oriented Police officer Mark Jennewein said. "We want to help this community to have a good night sleep without booming music and squealing tires."
The lemonade stand was first unveiled Dec. 12 at the Woodfield Apartments, 325 E. University Blvd., Melbourne, an area where drug deals and violence are commonplace, Jennewein said.
The volunteer-run program was suggested by Melbourne residents Eric and Jane Albury, who lived in Collier County, where a similar lemonade stand was implemented several years ago.
The first Operation Squeeze in Melbourne was a success from the start. In the first hour alone, three known drug dealers turned around when they saw the bright yellow stand and two uniformed officers, Jennewein said.
In addition to Palm Bay, Jennewein and the Alburys plan to take their stand to some of Brevard County's major drug areas and have been contacted by the Brevard County Sheriff's office, Cocoa Police Department and Brevard County Housing Authority.
Operation Squeeze's $1,300 grant from the Alliance for Neighborhood Restoration is a one-time deal, Jennewine said.
However, as word gets out about how successful the program is, funding it should be a bit easier. Winn-Dixie, Home Depot, Palm Casual Furniture, Best Buy, Eller Media and Con's Big Boy's Toy Store also contributed to the project.
This story is courtesy of FLORIDA TODAY