Hurlock celebrates new police station

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Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Blue balloons floated over Hurlock to commemorate the sacrifice of fallen police officers, during the dedication of the new police station. The new building replaces the former Hurlock station, a can factory office that was built in 1903.

HURLOCK — The May 20 weather forecast included sunny skies, light wind, and moderate temperatures. Hurlock breathed a collective sigh of relief early that Friday morning when the prediction matched the reality. The day to dedicate the $1.4 million police station had arrived. Mayor Joyce Spratt knew the crowd gathered in the parking lot would be considerable, with numerous dignitaries ready to speak. It was a perfect day for an outdoor event.

The brick building built in 1903 as offices for Continental Can Company has served as the Hurlock police station for many years. The multi-year journey to reach a consensus on replacing the ancient structure began in 2010 when architect Tim Crosby of Crosby Associates presented plans for a new facility.

Deficiencies and violations of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) plagued the aging 3,600 square foot two-story police station. Aside from security concerns, the building was in poor condition despite steps taken in the recent past to try to cure operational and physical deficiencies.

The grant approval process, begun in 2011 with the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), continued as the agency reviewed the preliminary design, examined the projections, looked at the town’s finances, and approved a loan.

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Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
State Comptroller Peter Franchot presented service medallions to Hurlock Police Chief Michael Henry, left, former police chief Les Hutton, right, and Town Administrator John Avery (not pictured), as Mayor Joyce Spratt looked on proudly.

General contractors Harper & Sons, Inc. of Easton was selected in February 2015 for its bid of $1,336,761. The contractor said the building was very efficiently designed and contained nothing that would be considered “gilding the lily.”

Former Police Chief Les Hutton offered the opening prayer noting, “this building is a symbol of law and order and a proud symbol for the Town of Hurlock.” He said in 2010 he was at a gathering at the Hyatt and “I ran into this gentleman with a big cigar. He said he was an architect and I started talking to him … By March, 2011 the first blueprints were laid out … There will be many officers over the years going through these doors and I hope they will find the pride in this town that I have and that they are successful.” According to Mayor Spratt the old building will be reborn as a train and town history museum.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said he was “Delighted and honored to be part of this special ceremony. I would like to recognize Town Administrator John Avery, Police Chief Mike Henry, and former Police Chief Les Hutton.” He awarded them medallions which he traditionally gives for sacrifice, valor, and service to everyone who’s on the front line and in public safety.

“I am confident this new facility will strengthen the police department’s ability to protect and prevent anything happening to folks here … Equipping them with the resources and the space they need to efficiently and effectively perform their service rewards the valor and sacrifice that each of these men and women make.”

Sheriff James Phillips attributed the vision of Mayor Spratt to the completion of the new station. He said, “Many years ago when they decided to establish a Hurlock police department they gave them guns and a car and stuck them in an old house where the post office is now. They’ve been where the town hall is; they were in an old fertilizer warehouse. They’ve always jumped them around to a vacant building.
They’ve never given them the proper equipment or the proper home they really needed. When Chief Hutton brought it to Mayor Spratt’s attention, she had the vision to move forward. Congratulations for a job well done.”

County Council President Ricky Travers said, “These types of projects are what is supposed to be happening when you get all of government working in the right direction and not working against each other.”

State Senator Addie Ekhardt and Delegates Johnny Mautz and Chris Adams presented a commendation to Chief Henry who accepted the certificate on behalf of the town and police department.

Jeff Hubbard, president of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, noted it is a “Great day for Dorchester County and Hurlock and it was all done with local talent” including the architect, engineers, and builder.

“When I started working with the mayor I had hair!” chuckled architect Tim Crosby. “But this was a great project. Les and the mayor established the vision in 2011 and through five years it hasn’t changed at all. These are the kind of projects you just hope for. We’re really proud of it!”

Amick Vice President Fred West traveled from South Carolina to be part of the celebration. “When I think about what these men and women in law enforcement do, I think about how they hear a calling. They don’t have jobs; they have a calling to protect, to serve and put their lives at risk for other people. It’s what they are. This building represents these folks here. We are thankful to you all for What you do.”

And then the ribbon was cut. But the excitement was not quite over. As Mayor Spratt said, “In honor of all the fallen police officers who have given their lives to keep us safe,” celebrants released blue balloons that gently floated high into a cerulean sky and disappeared.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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