Hur­lock town coun­cil fo­cuses on youth, fam­i­lies

Dorchester Star - - Regional - By CON­NIE CON­NOLLY cconnolly@ches­pub.com

HUR­LOCK — Con­cerns for youth and fam­i­lies dom­i­nated the dis­cus­sion of the Hur­lock Town Coun­cil meet­ing Tuesday evening, Oct. 11.

From bas­ket­ball courts to spe­cial events, the meet­ing led by Mayor Joyce Spratt fo­cused mainly on the town’s ef­forts to pro­vide a safe en­vi­ron­ment for youth and fam­i­lies, and to cel­e­brate its fall fes­ti­val, new fire truck and planned me­mo­rial park.

A large seg­ment of the meet­ing was taken up by a dis­cus­sion of where town youth are now al­lowed to play bas­ket­ball. Be­cause of com­plaints and li­a­bil­ity con­cerns, Spratt ex­plained that the pri­vate hoops be­hind The Drug­store were taken down.

Hur­lock Police Chief Les Hut­ton ex­plained that, be­cause kids were play­ing on town prop­erty, the town was li­able if any were in­jured.

A dis­cus­sion about the issue be­tween coun­cil mem­bers and town res­i­dents con­tin­ued for 20 to 30 min­utes. Hut­ton said the com­plaints were not so much with well-man­nered youth play­ing bas­ket­ball with a pri­vate hoop on a town street. The prob­lem for some res­i­dents was bad lan­guage and traf­fic man­ners.

“It’s okay if kids try to do the right thing,” Hut­ton said.

“Kids are kids,” Hut­ton said, ad­ding they need a place to play in their own neigh­bor­hoods, not on the town-owned park­ing lot.

“I have a prob­lem with kids not hav­ing a whole lot to do. We have a fidu­ciary duty to keep peo­ple safe,” coun­cil­man Rev. Charles Cephas said. “But we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to give kids op­por­tu­ni­ties as well.”

“As long as there’s no cussing, and kids pick up their trash, (and) as long as the neigh­bors are okay with it, it should be okay,” coun­cil­man Rus­sell Mur­phy said.

Coun­cil­man Jerry Rhue wants youth to keep play­ing bas­ket­ball on the town park­ing lot. He said his mother lives close by and “likes the kids play­ing there.”

Cephas en­cour­aged the coun­cil to “find com­mon ground” to re­solve the issue. Spratt asked Cephas and Hut­ton if they would work on a solution, and bring it back to the coun­cil. They agreed.

“I think we’ve got to come up with some kind of plan for the whole town,” Spratt said.

Res­i­dent Frank Bit­tner, co-chair­man of the ad hoc Hur­lock Citizens As­so­ci­a­tion, sug­gested “an open work ses­sion to dis­cuss the pros and cons of the hoops issue ... it would be a great way to show young peo­ple how democ­racy works.”

Top­ping the agenda was a re­port on the rained-out Fall Fes­ti­val that nev­er­the­less fea­tured flu shots and train rides. Free flu shots were ad­min­is­tered to 114 peo­ple by Wal­greens. Non­re­fund­able fees to­tal­ing $815 paid by craft ven­dors were used to help pay for a van for a lo­cal hand­i­capped child.

Town Ad­min­is­tra­tor John Avery an­nounced that Oct. 21 is the dead­line for bids to com­plete paving for 4,000 feet of road on Oak Street, Dog­wood Av­enue and Wrights Av­enue. The cost es­ti­mate is $120,000, and Avery ex­pects the bids to be pre­sented for a vote at the Oct. 24 town coun­cil meet­ing.

Hut­ton con­cluded his brief police re­port by say­ing that the previous two weeks had been “pretty un­event­ful.” Another of­fi­cer is leav­ing the force, prompt­ing res­i­dent Rhoda Palmer to ask, “Why are we los­ing so many of­fi­cers?”

“Let’s face it, this world’s crazy,” Hut­ton replied. “Of­fi­cers are putting their fam­i­lies first, and I’ve got to re­spect that.”

Hut­ton called Hur­lock a train­ing ground. “It’s hard for a small town to main­tain of­fi­cers for a long pe­riod of time,” he said, ad­ding, how­ever, that “there are some (po­ten­tial) new of­fi­cers in the pipe­line right now, in­clud­ing a fe­male of­fi­cer.”

“We want to be di­ver­si­fied. Fe­male police of­fi­cers are in­valu­able,” Hut­ton said.

As­sis­tant Fire Chief R.J. Helmer re­ported that, to date for 2016, the fire de­part­ment has re­sponded to 200 calls, while emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices have made close to 400 calls. The brand new $1 mil­lion lad­der truck that has been in the works for a year was ded­i­cated on Oct. 1 to Charles Coul­bourne for his 65 years of ser­vice with the fire com­pany.

“It was the most im­pres­sive cer­e­mony I’ve seen in a long time,” Spratt said.

Frank and Faye Fra­ley re­ported on the planned Hur­lock Veter­ans Me­mo­rial Park to be lo­cated on Main Street in the cen­ter of town. Fra­ley hopes to be­gin con­struc­tion next spring.

“It’s re­ally go­ing to look like a park,” Fra­ley said. “For veter­ans (in) our com­mu­nity who gave their lives and ev­ery­thing, so we can stand and salute that flag.” Fra­ley an­tic­i­pates Me­mo­rial and Veter­ans Day events tak­ing place there.

Cephas raised con­cerns about two is­sues: crop dust­ing by farm­ers and mos­quito con­trol by the county. He said he is “still hav­ing con­cerns about the high cancer rate” in the Prospect Heights area, and won­ders if crop dust­ing is pre­sent­ing a health haz­ard to chil­dren and se­nior citizens.

“I don’t want to hurt farm­ers,” Cephas said, but he says he wants “some kind of di­a­logue with (Dorch­ester) county” to es­tab­lish a buf­fer zone be­tween the com­mu­nity and the spray area.

As for the mos­qui­toes, Cephas said they’re “get­ting big­ger, and the smaller ones are get­ting more vi­o­lent,” elic­it­ing laugh­ter from the coun­cil and at­ten­dees.

Avery said that he has brought up both of Cephas’s con­cerns to the county.

Be­fore the meet­ing’s ad­journ­ment, Cephas, who is pas­tor of the Full Gospel Church of God In Christ Je­sus in Hur­lock, is­sued a plea for Hur­lock res­i­dents to do­nate water, clothes and shoes to hur­ri­cane vic­tims in Haiti.

“We are the land of plenty,” he said, to sev­eral amens in re­sponse. “I ex­pe­ri­enced so much poverty and pain (in Haiti), but I also ex­pe­ri­enced how much I’m proud to be an Amer­i­can. This is the great­est coun­try in the world, the most re­li­able coun­try in the world.”

PHOTO BY CON­NIE CON­NOLLY

The Hur­lock town coun­cil met on Tuesday, Oct. 11 to dis­cuss town im­prove­ments and events. From left are coun­cil mem­bers Rus­sell Mur­phy, Jerry Rhue, Bon­nie Franz, Mayor Joyce Spratt, Earl Mur­phy, Rev. Charles Cephas, town at­tor­ney Robert Mer­riken and Town Ad­min­is­tra­tor John Avery.

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