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All paws on deck: Council approves securing new K-9 officer for Buckhannon Police Department

BUCKHANNON – The paws of the Buckhannon Police Department’s newest four-legged officer will likely hit the road by the end of 2020 if all goes as planned.

At its most recent meeting Thursday, June 18, Buckhannon City Council authorized Mayor David McCauley to sign off on a contract between the city and Shallow Creek Kennels that will allow the BPD to secure a new K-9 officer and put the dog to work by the end of 2020.

According to a previous story, the City of Buckhannon allocated money in its 2020-2021 fiscal year budget for the purchase of a K-9 officer and training for its handler, who Police Chief Matt Gregory said would be Sgt. William Courtney.

The contract between the city and Shallow Creek Kennels, which is located in Sharpsville, Pa., involves the city paying approximately $15,000 for a trained police dog; training for the dog’s handler, Courtney; and room and board for Courtney during his multi-week training session. The kennel’s website says it’s a privately owned and operated “police service dog importing and training facility” located in western Pennsylvania hills.

The kennel primarily trains and sells German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois canines, but Gregory did not specifically say what breed of dog the city plans to purchase.

At Thursday’s meeting, Gregory said Courtney spent a good deal of time vetting various kennels both inside and outside the Mountain State, comparing and contrasting them.

Courtney, who’s been with the BPD since 2008, visited the kennel and “spent some time speaking with the trainers,” Gregory said.

“He feels that through his research, this particular kennel would best suit the city’s needs in terms of a police K-9,” the police chief reported. “This particular contract once we enter into it … includes the services of the K-9 officer in terms of the cost of the K-9 and training for handler. It would be $15,000, $10,000 of which must be paid by Aug. 17, and the remaining amount by the conclusion of training in November.”

Courtney’s handler training would begin in mid- or late September, Gregory added.

“So, we would anticipate moving forward after the first of the fiscal year (July 1, 2020), and locking in training for the fall so we’ll have the K-9 on the road by late 2020,” he said.

Councilman CJ Rylands made a motion to approve execution of the contract, which was seconded by councilwoman Pam Bucklew before passing unanimously.

In other news, council approved city attorney Tom O’Neill signing three documents on behalf of the City of Buckhannon between the city and the Upshur County Development Authority that will allow the UCDA to close on tax credit programs. The documents involved the release of the land at the corner of Spring and Main streets to the UCDA. A release was originally drafted in December 2016 but was not put on record, O’Neill said.

A second dealt with a change to the 2016 deed involving adjusting the city’s easement by a foot-and-a-half, and the third pertained to the ‘reverter’ part of the 2016 deed.

Before adjourning, council also:

  • Approved the closure of Buckhannon City Hall Monday, July 6, for electrical work.
  • Approved submitted an Accessibility Grant application for the Colonial Theatre to the W.Va. Department of Arts, Culture and History
  • Approved a request from Larry Carpenter to remain on the Upshur Board of Health for another five-year term
  • Accepted the resignation of Nathan Fetty from the city’s Waste Collection Board

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