Grant match needed to keep marine patrol

Published 12:54 am Sunday, May 18, 2014

Until enough money is certified, a marine patrol grant for the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office can’t be matched, possibly jeopardizing the department that monitors the county’s section of the Ohio River, plus its lakes and creeks.

For the past 18 years the sheriff’s office has gotten an approximately $16,500 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. That has to be matched with approximately $5,000 of county funds.

Before that money can be appropriated the county auditor, as fiscal officer, has to certify that the money is there.

Email newsletter signup

“Until they can tell me where they are going to come up with the match,” Chief Deputy Chris Kline said. “All of the sheriff’s money is appropriated. There is nothing allocated for a grant match.”

Sheriff Jeff Lawless brought this to the attention of the Lawrence County Commissioners at their regular meeting on Thursday. Commission President Les Boggs told the sheriff he would have an answer at next Thursday’s meeting.

“The grant provides us with the boat and equipment to go out and patrol the waterways and do boat inspections,” Lawless said after the meeting. “It is very important to have a boat that can get out in the river when there are drownings or issues at the chemical plants.”

There are 11 on the sheriff’s staff who are trained for marine patrol. That grant covers those officers’ salaries and maintenance on the boat.

The boat is provided by the state on loan and could be called in if there is no money to finance the patrol program.

“We do everything from checking fishing licenses to recovering bodies at boat wrecks,” Lawless said. “It is the whole gamut. We want people to stay safe.”