Groundbreaking for new Hurlock Police Station is Oct. 4

HURLOCK — At its Aug. 11 meeting Hurlock Council members unanimously approved the site plan for the town’s proposed police station. Jeff Hubbard of Lane Engineering presented the state of the art plan which is modeled after a train station. Mayor Joyce Spratt noted that it is not an elaborate building but a very functional one that will, she says, “fit the town” with its history as a railroading hub. Groundbreaking is slated for Oct. 4, noon during the Hurlock Fall Festival.

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Town Administrator John Avery described three construction loan bids he requested for the new station. He reported two banks offered verbal quotes of 3-3.5 percent interest rates.  Hebron Savings Bank’s written proposal offered an 18 month construction loan of $1,396,000 loan at a fixed interest rate of 1.41 percent. The FY2015 budget contains $50,000 for the loan’s financing based on an estimated 3-3.5 percent interest rate. With the lower interest rate, the town will save about $30,000 on one year of interest payments. The council unanimously approved financing at the lower rate. After interest payments on the financing and following construction the loan will be assumed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for re-payment.

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Representatives of Hurlock Citizens and Seniors were on the agenda. Frank Bittner, group organizer, told the Mayor and Council, “On behalf of our citizens group, we were very puzzled at the way you responded to our newsletter. This is a sheet of paper, two-fold, with all good things in it. There’s an area of ‘items still under consideration.’ We could take the stand of not caring but we think it’s our right to care and watch what you and the county folks are doing.” Mr. Bittner noted that “natural gas” was still on the group’s list for consideration.
Mayor Spratt responded, “That natural gas line has been discussed and re-discussed. The population of Hurlock is a lot of older people who cannot afford to convert their existing heating or air conditioning system to natural gas. You have to have 90 percent of the town on it and we couldn’t even get it into the industrial park. I think if you took a poll of the people in this room you wouldn’t have two. We have kept you up to date on that information.”
Councilman Earl Murphy defended the Mayor who, at the last council meeting, said Mr. Murphy, “clarified some of the things that you had in here (newsletter).”
Mr. Bittner answered, “That’s wonderful, however … a phone call to me and we could have met with the Mayor privately. But her impressions were at a public meeting so we’re here to talk.”
“We want to sing in key with you and everyone else but if we don’t talk to one another we won’t know what the words are.”
“We were hopeful that at least the town would see that a few blocks had gas. Most towns would give their teeth to have natural gas lines come into town. Hurlock has had one sitting here for 114 years that the town has never touched.” Mr. Bittner noted that inexpensive gas fuel for heating and cooking is 25-40 percent cheaper than oil or propane and could have made a difference to large companies like Food Lion and McDonalds who looked at Hurlock as potential locations. He added that in his conversations with Chesapeake Utilities they say the 90 percent or 80 percent is not carved in stone. He asked the council to invite gas company representatives to meet with town officials for a question and answer session. He later clarified that a first step would be a line for the business community.
Councilman Charles Cephas asked the Mayor and Council to consider forming an exploratory committee to take the lead in reviewing all the possibilities.
The mayor explained, “We’re in constant contact with Chesapeake Utilities … and we came back to the town meeting to talk about it. We tried to get it out here in the industrial park and everybody has been talked to about it and they weren’t interested. I know time changes things. Down the road they may change their mind.”
In her report Mrs. Spratt noted the Oct. 4 Fall Festival Committee has added a Little Miss and Little Mr. Contest for youngsters 3-6 at 6 p.m. A talent contest for those under 16 is slated at 7 p.m. Friday followed by an adult talent contest at 8 p.m. Saturday features a parade at 10 a.m., groundbreaking for the police station at noon, entertainment from 11 a.m.-3  p.m., pit beef and a car show at the fire department, and two cake contests. Aug. 22 is the elementary school Open House. And, noted Mrs. Spratt, clean-up day is slated for Sept. 20.
Police Chief Les Hutton reported that the Aug. 5 National Night Out to acquaint the community with the resources of emergency personnel was a “nice turnout for the first time.” He noted that 15 of 27 reportable cases were closed from July 14 to Aug. 10 with 11 adult and 4 juvenile arrests. In July there were 891 calls for service which was an increase of 400 over May and 200 over June. “We’re very busy,” he said. “We had a night when we had some cars broken into” and emphasized avoiding “crimes of opportunity. It’s important to remember to secure your property.” He also stressed the importance of calling the police department if a citizen has an issue.
Assistant Fire Chief David Carrier commented “We’ve been extremely busy lately. Last month we had 4 automatic fire alarms, 1 residential rescue, a medical emergency in a swimming pool, 1 landing zone, 2 Hazmat incidents, 3 building fires, 4 medical assists, 5 motor vehicle collisions, 2 car fires, 2 water rescues.” They had 43 calls, 19 of which were medical emergencies.
An $832,390 federal grant was awarded to seven Dorchester County volunteer fire departments to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus and face masks with voice amplifiers so firefighters can breathe and communicate during emergencies in smoke and fire.
Resident Monroe Quailes announced that on Aug. 23, noon-4 p.m. at Prospect Heights Park, a special day is slated for youngsters returning to school. Supplies like paper, pencils, book bags, etc. will be distributed for children who parents cannot readily purchase them. The next meeting is Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. preceded at 5 p.m. by a second public hearing on the proposed curfew.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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