EFFINGHAM — Chief of Police Jason McFarland was busy during Effingham's City Council this week with police related matters including presentation of two Citizen Service Citations for good deeds.

Later, the newly named chief asked the council for approval to purchase a new Police K9 for the department and retire another one.

Brianna Wendte and Trae Winterrowd were both recognized for their actions that made a difference in another citizen's life.

McFarland said Wendte, on June 9, came across an accident that involved an elderly gentleman. She stopped and rendered aid, called authorities and gave him a bottle of water and made phone calls herself to be sure his family was contacted.

“It's citizens like Brianna that go the extra mile and it is my pleasure as chief to be able to honor them,” said McFarland. “I understand this was your risk of being late for work.”

The Good Samaritan said it was true, she was roughly an hour and half late for work that day.

Trae Winterrowd, was recognized for calling authorities when he saw something didn't look right at an elderly neighbor's home. Family members of the victim came in appreciation of the citizen's efforts.

It was on May 20, he observed suspicious behavior at a house and called police. Officers at first didn't locate a suspect who was believed to have entered the home by breaking in. Further search found the suspect hiding under a bed, which was initially thought to be just a blanket.

“The person that entered this house did so with the knowledge that a senior citizen lived there, and has a history of entering homes of senior citizens and stealing small items, in hopes that the person would just be confused and would discount it,” the police chief said.

The individual was arrested on the scene. The elderly woman's daughters, Bernice Dasenbrock and Dolores Kroeger and her son, Henry Paul Hoene were at City Council for the presentation, while Winterrowd was unable to attend.

In other police matters, McFarland was granted approval to purchase a new K9 police officer and the cost of a six-week training for the handler, from Vohne Liche Kennels, Inc. in Denver, Indiana, at the cost of $17,255. The description on the quote said the K9 would be a dual-purpose narcotic detector.

The council approved the purchase. Commissioner Hank Stephens was absent. Mayor Mike Schutzbach, Commissioners Merv Gillenwater, Larry Micenheimer and Libby Moeller voted for the K9 and handler training, plus housing costs for a six week course.

McFarland said due to a retirement, the department is now short a K9. Funds to pay for the purchase of a dog and training would come from the K9 Fund, which is made up from donations made from the community. The account had $23,970 at the time of the request.

“There are no tax payer's dollars involved in this,” said McFarland. “One of the issues we are addressing with the recent decriminalization of cannabis, of 1 ounce or less, is that police dogs will not be as effective as they once were. An odor they've been trained to detect, cannot be untrained. So, any new canine will not be trained to detect cannabis.”

McFarland said the biggest drug issue this community today is methamphetamine.

After the meeting McFarland said that the retiring K9, Joeri, once handled by Jared Probst, was given to the city's police department as a donation. Joeri has a new home back with his original owner. The department has K9 Narco, handled by Andy Warner. Narco is aging, and will need to be replaced with the help of fundraisers, later this year.

Officer Jacob Lustig will be the handler of the new K9, once that happens.

In other matters, the council:

• Heard that Jefferson Avenue will be closed beginning on July 8, for Phase 1 reconstruction work, if weather cooperates. Phase 1 includes Banker Street to Fifth Street and take about six weeks for this phase. The intersection will be opened as quickly as possible, then each section will be opened a block at a time.

• Authorized grant of $50,000 to Arts Connection of Central Illinois, Inc, to be paid from the city's tourism hotel-motel fund.

• Heard Fourth Street from Jefferson Avenue to Washington Avenue will be temporarily closed from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. July 13 for the Milking Contest. Effingham County Board members will be the contenders.

• Approved a proposal from Civil Design, Inc. for the FY 19-20 GIS Database & Online Mapping Portal in the total amount of $18,742, for professional Geographic Information System assistance. This project is included in the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year budget.

• Appointed Patty McHugh to fulfill John McHugh's recent appointment to the Tourism Advisory Board with her three-year term set to expire May 1, 2022.

• Reappointed Clara Koester to the Human Relations Board with her three-year term to expire May 1, 2022 and appoints Steve Miller to fulfill Jim Arndt's three-year term to expire May 1, 2021.

Dawn Schabbing can be reached at dawn.schabbing@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151, ext 138