(1/30) Drug dealers and users in the Thurmont area will soon have more to worry about.
Town officials voted Tuesday night to begin the process of bringing a K-9 drug-sniffing dog to the police force.
Chief Greg Eyler said it will initially cost about $25,000 for the dog, training of an officer and modifying one of the patrol cars for K-9 use. The annual cost afterward would be about $9,700, the chief said.
Carol Robertson, president of the Catoctin Colorfest, quietly gave town chief administrative officer Bill Blakeslee a check for $2,000 and a dog biscuit toward food and other necessities for the police dog when it gets on board.
"Heroin is the drug choice in Thurmont," said Mayor Martin Burns. The mayor emphasized that the dog is for narcotics searches, not an attack dog or search and rescue dog.
Town Commissioners Bill Buehrer and Ron Terpko questioned the cooperation of the school system in drug searches. Eyler said the school principal has to make a request for a drug search.
Eyler said the town will look for grants and donations, such as that from Robertson, to pay for the police dog.
Terpko moved for approval, seconded by Buehrer and were joined by Commissioner John Kinnaird and the mayor in passing the motion.
In other business, Randy Eyler, supervisor of the town's waste water treatment plant, said an update to the plant is nearly complete. The update, which cost about $8 million, was funded by grants except for about $2.3 million from the town.
The plant sends 800 gallons a minute of treated wastewater into nearby streams. The upgrade brings the plant to existing federal and state standards, but Eyler said regulations constantly change on environmental issues.
Eyler said it would take until October to get the plant fully certified, considering some minor work yet to be finished and monitoring over time for water quality.
Blakeslee suggested considering a system to dry and process the sludge resulting from water treatment. The dried sludge, made into pellets, can be sold for burning in industrial plants. The cost for the system would be $1 million, but would eliminate the annual cost of $70,000 now paid to have the sludge hauled away.
Blakeslee also noted that about 400 acres of land in Thurmont's watershed has been sold to the state to be added to Cunningham Falls State Park. Blakeslee said the sale has not been finalized, but the town will get $1.4 million for the land and retain about 80 acres, which is a water supply system for the town.
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