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Investment program may be way to get cruisers

Lawrence County Commissioners are looking to the county’s Neighborhood Investment Program as an option to fund five new cruisers for the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

At their Tuesday work session the commissioners discussed the possibility of issuing bonds for $150,000 for five years that would pay for five more vehicles.

Right now the sheriff’s office fleet is made up primarily of vehicles with between 200,000 to 300,000 miles on them.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless calls the situation critical.

“Our aging fleet is in dire need of replacement,” Lawless told the commissioners.

Already this year the sheriff’s office has spent $40,000 on maintenance for the fleet and has two cruisers needing transmission or engine work.

“I don’t want to spend the money (on those two) if I can keep the other cars operating with minimum cost,” he said. “We have four used cruisers that we can’t get operational.”

Recently Huntington, W.Va., Police Department and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office donated used cruisers to the county. However, all four need striping and radios, which would cost $28,000.

Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Burcham started the investment program two years ago where he buys bonds issued by governmental entities at a lower interest rate than what they could get from a bank. However that rate is still higher than what the county gets from a bank on its investments.

Commissioner Les Boggs said he wants to know what interest rate Burcham would offer the county and determine the extent of the county’s debt service.

The commissioners did not make any response to Lawless’ request for funds to get the donated vehicles on the road.

“I would be more than happy to look at what the commissioners are proposing,” Burcham said. “Police protection is important. I am more than happy to do my part to help as long as it is reasonable for the taxpayers of Lawrence County to purchase the bond.”