Middlesex board adds new juvenile detective position

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MIDDLESEX — Town commissioners voted unanimously Monday evening to approve a roughly $85,000 Governor’s Crime Commission grant that will allow the police department to hire a juvenile detective with an estimated Oct. 1 start date.

The juvenile detective will be, in part, responsible for “identifying juveniles who are at risk for delinquency, living in injurious environments that would contribute to physical abuse, undisciplined behavior, neglect and truancy,” according to the job description.

Middlesex Mayor Lu Harvey Lewis said when he and police chief Mike Collins initially applied for the grant, they received word that the town was not going to be approved.

“Then, about three months ago, Jim called Mike out of the blue and said ‘You know that grant you applied for? Well, I got you the money,’” Lewis said.

The grant, which totals $85,508.92, includes a 25 percent town match of $21,377.23. Collins said he has applied for a federal waiver that, if accepted, would fund the grant in its entirety without additional town funds. The town should have a decision on the waiver by October.

Lewis said the grant will be a great benefit to the town, its residents and the police force.

The amount covers the position’s salary of $40,002 for a one-year contract as well as office equipment, training and conference fees. However, it does not cover vehicles, weapons or uniforms.

The board previously was awarded and approved a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the purchase of three new police cars and a public utility works truck. The purchase orders have been sent to the dealerships, and the vehicles are expected to arrive within four to six weeks.

“Based on our current situation, I’m able to handle those three items without any added expense to our budget,” Collins said.

Collins said the town will need to reapply for the grant in November to secure funds for 2019, but the amount will be significantly less and cover recurring expenses such as salary, office supplies and gas. Commissioner J.W. McClenny moved to approve and accept the grant, and Commissioner Danny Alford seconded the motion.

Alford also made a statement regarding the recent grants the town has received.

“It’s a little disheartening to know that, in this town, all we hear is complaints about what we’re doing wrong,” Alford said. “But Lu Harvey and Mike, and these ladies in the office, we need to thank them for these grants that we’re getting and that aren’t coming out of taxpayers’ pockets. But you don’t hear any congratulations about that. You only hear about the nitpicky things we’re doing wrong. And that’s my opinion.”

In other town business, the board recognized Collins for his two-year appointment as an ex-officio member of the North Carolina Association of School Resource Officers board of directors. Commissioners also discussed painting the water tower, which is currently scheduled to happen in October and will take about three weeks to complete. During this time, the tower will not be in use. In the interim, the town will have use of a 10,000-gallon tank to cover water needs. A public works maintenance position also has been posted to the town’s website but has received no interest.

The board also went into a short closed session for personnel discussions and returned with the action to hire Steve Jordan and Cathy Callahan as part-time police officers.