Donations helping East Spencer Police start K-9 program

Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

EAST SPENCER — Although they’ve received some cash and in-kind donations, the East Spencer Police Department is short roughly $17,000 if it wants to get a police K-9. The idea came about from an officer during a previous meeting, and Chief Sharon Hovis began looking into what it would take to start such a unit.

Hovis said at this point her department is in the early stages of looking for funds and seeing how the town could go about establishing a K-9 unit.

She’s looking into a grant that would net them $250,000 for three to five years to put toward maintaining a program.The grant has to be completed by the end of this month.

The board took no action on whether to approve a K-9 unit, but did decide how to list the K-9 funds in the budget under a separate line item, once they are received. If the police department does not receive the grant and is not able to entirely fund the program through outside means, then the board recommended the money and donations be given back to individual donors.

Hovis said she is in the beginning stages, has already received donations and did not even have time to create a plan. She’s been in talks with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and received some dog food.

“This was just an idea, but the people in the community are backing us,” she said.

Alderman John Noble, a retired law enforcement officer, asked if the dog would be a drug-sniffing dog. Hovis said the dog would be used to search for drugs, patrol in the park, and get out in the community.

The board also:

• Held a moment of reflection for former mayor and police chief John L. Rustin Sr., who died last week and will be buried Wednesday. Mayor Barbara Mallett declared Aug. 3, the day of his funeral, as John L. Rustin Sr. Day. She read a resolution honoring the longtime public servant during the meeting.

Each board member shared their favorite memories or experiences with Rustin, who was 91 years old. Alderwoman Phronice Johnson said Rustin used to call her Bernice or “Bern” and when she was elected to the board, he reached out to her.

“He always had a heart for the people. He always said there was good in even the worst person,” Johnson said.

Alderman Noble called Rustin an inspirational man.

Mallett said Rustin worked in the town at a time where there was a racial divide among the townspeople.

“He was able to squelch whatever would happen,” Mallett said.

• Discussed sending Town Administrator David Jaynes to the Leadership Rowan Class. The class is an opportunity for leaders to network and learn about community issues. Class members have a commitment of one day a month for several months. The cost is $800, but Jaynes was able to secure a scholarship, bringing the cost to $200.

Johnson asked Jaynes if this was a need or want. He said it would be a great opportunity to connect and network with others, which could in turn be a benefit to the town. Johnson said the town already had debt and she couldn’t see paying for a class that essentially wasn’t a required class.

“This budget is already tight,” Johnson said.

Alderwoman Tammy Corpening asked for something written that explained the benefits of the class. The board did not make a decision about the class.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.