Hurlock police chief recognizes two, vets group plans memorial

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Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Members of the Hurlock American Legion Post 243 lent support to the design prepared by and presented at the Jan. 24 Hurlock Town Council meeting by Fay and Frank Fraley (left) for the town’s Veterans’ Memorial Park. American Legion members included, from left, Earl Richmond, Scott Lawrence, and Jack Lewis. A Navy veteran, 90-year-old Mr. Richmond fought in the Pacific Theater of WWII on a PT boat. Mr. Lawrence was in the Army, Mr. Lewis served in the Navy, and both Fraleys served in the Air Force.

HURLOCK — At the Jan. 24 council meeting Hurlock Police Chief Michael Henry began his police report as usual. “There were 40 reports in December,” he said, “including: 7 thefts, 3 for damaged property, 3 counterfeit currencies, 3 assaults, and 2 burglaries.” There were 5 adult and 2 juvenile arrests, 3 people were charged on criminal citations, 1 on municipal citation, 5 motor vehicle accidents, and 97 traffic violations.

He added, “As part of my report tonight I’d like to recognize a couple of people.” First was Dawn Betton who received the 2015 Employee of the Year Award. He said, “The department doesn’t run without her. She knows all the ins and outs, all the monthly reports, you name it – she does it.”

Chief Henry was visibly moved when he picked up a shadow box to make the second presentation. It was for former police chief Les Hutton. Fighting his emotions, Chief Henry said, “Les was hired in November 2010. He’s brought professionalism, a new attitude to the department, and did a lot of wonderful things for us. We want to recognize him for his service here. It’s a shadow box and it says, ‘for Les Hutton, for dedicated service to the Town of Hurlock from November 2010 to Augugust 2015.’ Along with this we are also presenting him with his retirement credentials and his retired chief badge.”

Chief Hutton thanked the Mayor and Council and responded, “This is hard. It was something to walk into, but over the five years I made friends in the community, officers I’ll never forget. Dawn saved me. Any chief who walks into a department and doesn’t have an executive assistant who knows what he or she is doing is in trouble.
Right from the ‘get go’ she had my back. I fell in love with the town and I fell in love with the people. This (town) is really the best kept secret in Dorchester County.”
In her report Mayor Joyce Spratt thanked “anyone who had any part at all getting the town looking like it does.” She also announced that Habitat for Humanity Choptank will sponsor a community prayer breakfast on Feb. 23, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Hurlock United Methodist Church at 502 S. Main St. The event is free and open to the public. Call 410-476-3204 to sign up.

Mayor Spratt noted the event will include an educational presentation. “I just thought they gave you a house and they were done. But it’s nowhere near what I thought.” She encouraged residents to attend and learn what Habitat Choptank is all about. “It makes you look at it in a whole different light.” The first Habitat house scheduled for construction in Hurlock will be on Charles Street. Ms. Spratt said some hurdles to overcome for a successful build include: Qualifying applicants; fundraising; and enlisting volunteers.

Town Administrator John Avery thanked “the public works crew who did an outstanding job plowing over the weekend. The roads are in very good condition given the fact that the storm had a lot of ice and freezing rain under the snow and we can’t do anything with that. We started plowing Friday evening and plowed all the way through Saturday night and even into Sunday. The conditions were really terrible. Public works did an outstanding job for what they had to deal with. I am very proud of everyone of them: Elmer Dyes, Joe Spratt, Kevin Bailey, and Allen Plutschak.” Mayor Spratt added Mr. Avery’s name to the list as well.

After months of leading the Veterans’ Memorial Park committee, the Fraleys, Frank and Fay, presented a final design for the project. “This is show and tell,” said Mr. Fraley. “My lovely assistant (Fay) passed out the proposals to everybody. I’m representing the committee that you appointed for this but I’m also representing the American Legion because they’re 100 percent behind this.”

He held up a large board featuring the engineering design for the park and explained there will be a brick wall, 44 feet long and 6 feet high in five sections. Each section contains a black granite insert etched with each branch of the service. The concrete work by Fooks Concrete includes footings, forming walks, and sub-bases for the memorial. Terry Cheesman will lay the wall and brick veneer it with white bricks. He will lay red brick pavers on the base and walkway and cap the walls with blue stone. “So we’ll have a red, white, and blue monument,” said Mr. Fraley. Flagpoles, 20 feet high, for each branch of service flags are behind each wall and a 30 foot one in the center US flag.
The five granite inserts are from Canada which the manufacturer will install in the wall. Mr. Fraley said, “Evidently they are fragile in transport and installation until they are installed.” Local electrician Jeff Bell will furnish and install all lighting for the wall and all the flags. Landscaping will be completed by the committee and local volunteers. The proposed budget is $75,000.

Councilman Earl Murphy who has championed the project said, “We are hoping to start the project by March” and Mr. Fraley added, “If the weather holds I don’t see why we can’t have it ready by OctoberFest.”

A discussion about scheduling the dedication followed. Mayor Spratt suggested Veterans’ Day and Ms. Fraley noted, “Our thought was we could get more color guards and veterans if it’s not on Veterans’ Day because while we could do it in the late morning then we have to go to Beulah Memorial Cemetery for the service.”

Councilman Murphy explained, “The committee’s thought was we would have the dedication when we could get a lot of the color guards here and there would be a lot of people. Then we could use it for the first time on Veterans’ Day.”

The Memorial Park will be located behind E&L Market on a triangular lot near the railroad station. Sod has been donated according to Mr. Fraley, “and we’ll build some landscaping but we want to keep it rather simple and plain but beautiful.” Ms. Fraley explained the benches are gray metal with the five branches of service etched on the back. Landscaping will include a white post and chain fence down both sides and across the back.

Mayor Spratt noted the project cannot be started until “we find the money.” She added that applying for and receiving grants, possible if the group receives not for profit status as a 501c3 organization, will take time. “We have to have a ground game here if you want to start in March, that’s only a month away.” Mr. Fraley responded that he hopes to receive “in-kind donations” to remove the trees currently on the parcel and leveling the ground for concrete pouring.

During council comments, Councilman Charles Cephas emphasized the need to schedule a public work session to discuss the issue of reducing residents’ water bills. Reduction of water bills “is something the council can work on since our bottom line is real nice. We could pass some of the benefits to the citizens. I’d like to set a date as soon as possible after Feb. 8 and before the 22nd.”

He also expressed his concern with “violence in our streets” and asked that citizens present ideas to combat violence. “One of the factors we have to face up to is that drugs are a force that has to be reckoned with. We have to agree not to accept the things in our communities that are destructive.”

Council members discussed the “in and out” nature of the apparent current judicial system where offenders are arrested, charged, jailed, and immediately released back into the community. Ms. Spratt said “If we’re going to slap wrists and take them in and then let them go back home nothing will change and they’ll do it over and over and over again.”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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