Dobson misses deadline for grant

First Posted: 4/15/2009

DOBSON Dobson missed out on a grant Tuesday that would have allowed the town to hire more full-time law enforcement, but it said Wednesday its not from a lack of effort on its part.
Dobson commissioners agreed to apply for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Recovery Program grant last month, which is designed to prevent police layoffs and put new officers on the streets.
According to the COPS Web site, agencies were required to fill out an application online, which required a password to access.
According to Town Manager Lynn Burcham, the town and police department were unable to obtain a password and repeated attempts to contact the grant program for assistance failed.
Within the period to complete the application, which was March 16 to April 14, she said both agencies continually reached out to the program, but never received a response.
This process was not fair, she told the board Wednesday night. You cannot fill out an application without a password, and we did not get to apply. This was stimulus money it was the first time we were eligible for this federal money.
The grant program was part of the federal stimulus package passed in February by Congress and signed into law.
If awarded, the grant would have provided 100-percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and benefits for three years for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer positions or for rehired officers who have been laid off, or are scheduled to be laid off on a future date, as a result of local budget cuts.
Part-time officers are eligible, and the grant would have allowed those employed at the Dobson Police Department to take on full-time positions for at least 36 months.
The police department sought to hire at least four positions full-time with the help of the program.
It was mentioned that the board might write to legislators concerning the issue.
Also on its agenda, the board discussed what to do with an abandoned cemetery that it does not own or manage.
Despite lack of ownership, the town provides maintenance and upkeep for the cemetery, but Dobson has no control over who buries in the location and does not have authority to charge for it.
Hugh Campbell, the town attorney, said its a legal issue that the town is maintaining the cemetery, but is not responsible for it.
He said by the town adopting the upkeep of the cemetery that is a form of some control, but the board needs to take a formal action to transfer the operation of the cemetery.
The two options he suggested were transferring operations to a funeral home or a church.
Commissioner Lana Brendle also suggested soliciting the help of a genealogy class from Surry Community College to determine whose buried there.
This shouldve been looked at 30 years ago, said Mayor Ricky Draughn, who said the issue not only falls on the current board, but previous boards who never looked into it.
The board agreed to return to the next meeting with a list of three cemetery commissions to contact for assistance.
The board also discussed a 5K road race to benefit the Surry Knights softball team of Surry Community College, which is May 16. While the board supported the cause of the race, it expressed concerns about its route, which would require the majority of the towns main streets to be closed for about three hours on the Saturday morning of the event.
Certainly, we want to do it, Burcham said. But we cant shut down the roads.
Police Chief Shawn Meyer, who informed the board about the event, also said the softball team was asking for at least 16 people, particularly law enforcement to help shut down the streets.
Burcham suggested that Meyer ask the event organizers for an alternate route that wouldnt disrupt traffic flow or present safety issues, as well as enlist volunteers to help with shutting down any roads.
Commissioner Brendle agreed.
It looks like they can do two or three laps around the college, where theyre not affecting main roads, she said. Shutting down for 30 minutes is one thing, but three hours is a whole other (thing).
In other news the board:
Agreed to purchase a $700 full-page ad for a new Surry County visitors guide.
Agreed to recess Wednesdays meeting to May 13 at 6 p.m., when it will begin the budget workshop for the fiscal year 2009-10.
Agreed to set another date in May to hear from a YMCA representative about the results of a $2,500 market study to create a YMCA in the town.
The boards next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 28 in the Town Hall meeting room. Meetings are open to the public.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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