VALPARAISO — It's almost like Police Chief Jeffrey Balon is afraid the council will change its mind after it approved his use of $15,000 from the Forfeiture and Seized Assets Fund for several new programs, including buying two electric bicycles and leasing a motorcycle.
Following the council's action at Monday's meeting, Balon said he planned to get the orders in for the three vehicles this week so he will have them ready for duty in May. The bicycles cost about $4,000 each to buy and equip while the motorcycle lease is for $4,500, including equipment. The vehicles are to be used as firsts for the city in pilot programs for each.
The two bicycles are needed because bike patrols are done in pairs. The difference is a standard bike limits the officers to downtown and the immediate proximity, while the electric ones have a range of 50 miles on a charge and can cruise at 30 mph. They will allow the officers to patrol all the way to the city limits.
Balon plans to use a total of $15,000 from the fund for the bikes and for educational materials aimed at reaching children and adults with information on alcohol, drugs and the dangers of social media. Some of the material will be for a new outreach program in the schools called SMART — Social Media Awareness and Responsibility Training.
Mayor Matt Murphy also announced at the meeting that, because of concerns expressed at the last meeting by some parents of Parkview Elementary School about the possible cutbacks on the dual language immersion pilot program at the school, city administration members met with the school board and the school administration and were assured the program will not be cut this year.
Councilman Bob Cotton said the council passed a resolution prior to the citywide vote on a referendum in 2015 stating it supported the use of the referendum funds to preserve and expand foreign language education. Cotton asked the rest of the council to join him in voting on a new resolution to demonstrate its continued support of that concept.
Councilman George Douglas said that original resolution was still in effect and another vote wasn't required unless the council felt the actions of the schools warranted it. Cotton said he's been asked several times in recent months if the council still supports the original backing and reiterated his request for a new vote.
City Attorney Patrick Lyp said, although not necessary, the council could adopt a new resolution. Lyp said a copy of the resolution passed in 2015 should be given to council members to study, and a vote could be taken at the next meeting. The council agreed.
Parkview parent Meredith Mulkey said parents received an email Monday saying the program will continue for the rest of the year and she thanked the council for its help.
"I hope the data will be reviewed, and the students will be given a chance to fully experience the program," Mulkey said. "Let it go through its growing pains and make adjustments next year."
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