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CENTER TOWNSHIP: Support sought for police dog

by on July 08, 2014 10:55 AM

GRACETON — The Center Township board of supervisors are the next to consider supporting a plan by the Homer City Borough police department to place a police dog into service in the area.

Sgt. Anthony Jellison introduced the idea to Homer City Borough Council in June and reported last week that the department has pledges for about one-third of the cost to start a K-9 program.

Jellison told the Center Township supervisors on Monday that the dog would primarily be used for narcotics investigations, in cooperation with the Indiana County district attorney’s office and the county drug task force.

“The K-9 would be used not only in Homer City Borough, but it also would be used in Center Township, Indiana Borough, Blairsville and Burrell Township, as needed,” Jellison said.

The K-9 dog also could be pressed into service to search buildings for intruders and to help in tracking lost people.

“It’s just going to be based in Homer City and I will be the handler, but it’s going to be available through the whole county,” he said.

Jellison estimated the startup cost at $27,000 to $30,000, including about $13,500 for a nine-week police dog training program at the Shallow Creek Kennel in Mercer County, and the expense to retrofit a police car for transporting the dog to its assignments. After the dog is trained and placed in service, the annual cost for food, grooming, insurance, veterinary care and other unexpected expenses would run $6,000 to $10,000, he said.

Jellison said he would have to go through nine weeks of training as a K-9 handler before the dog would be certified for service.

Organizers are approaching all possible sources for funding, he said, including a foundation established by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But the foundation only awards grants to 501(c)(3) charitable organizations and presents the grants each year when the NFL season ends.

In other business, the supervisors:

• Will consider contributing $5,700 to the Homer-Center Recreation and Parks Commission as a one-third share of the cost of a truck that’s needed for maintenance of the area parks.

The recreation and parks board had not planned for the expense in its 2014 budget, said Supervisor Robert Pozik, and has asked for financial support from its three governing bodies: the township, Homer City Borough and Homer-Center School District.

Pozik said the recreation board has agreed to purchase a used truck, a 2008 Ford F350 that the borough has decided to replace. The township and the school board have agreed to pay cash to cover their shares, Pozik said, and the borough will donate the remaining one-third share as an in-kind contribution to the recreation program.

The book value of the used truck is about $17,000, Pozik said.

He said the supervisors probably will act on the request Thursday at the biweekly payroll meeting,

• The supervisors also reported that the township’s $52,000 share of state gasoline tax money, allocated through the Indiana County board of commissioners, was combined with about $45,000 designed in the township budget, to resurface several streets in the Yankeetown neighborhood along Route 119 north of Homer City.

Pozik said the project was the long-delayed second phase of paving work for the neighborhood.

Workers have been preparing streets in Coral for oil-and-chip sealing, tentatively set for July 24, according to Supervisor Chairman John Bertolino. But the oil supplier, Russell Standard, may change the project to the third week of August because the company’s workers are busy on a project now under way on Interstate 79.

Other improvements are planned for Long Road, Henry Road and Neal Road, but the township has curtailed the overall road work project because of budget constraints.

“We’ve scaled back the oil-and-chip work this summer trying to conserve some money for the winter side of the budget,” Bertolino said.

• Officials of the Coral-Graceton Volunteer Fire Department declared the fire company’s inaugural Independence Day Festival a complete success.

Community groups made profits at their booths, food vendors ran out of supplies, and the grounds were “jam packed” from beginning to end, said Fire Chief Sam McAdams.

“It was awesome. We’re looking forward to next year,” he said.

A car show added to the schedule just three weeks before July 4 drew almost 50 entries, he said.

McAdams thanked the supervisors for accommodating the event by closing the street near the fire station grounds.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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