04/06/04 — Princeton police cars run up high gas bills

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Princeton police cars run up high gas bills

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 6, 2004 2:00 PM

PRINCETON -- Rising gas prices are affecting the Princeton Police Department, says Chief Eddie Lewis.

Lewis told Monday night's monthly town board meeting that the town's gas bill for two police cars was $446 in March. He said his two cars are driven an average of about 3,000 miles a month.

Lewis said his night officers drive at least 60 miles daily and more, if they must take a prisoner to the Johnston County Jail in Smithfield.

"We're not driving an excessive amount," the chief said.

A third police car also needs $1,375 in repairs, and the board passed a motion by Commissioner Walter A. Martin Jr. to pay the bill.

Lewis said the 1994 car registers 170,000 miles but he estimated that the actual mileage was more than 200,000. The odometer adds only 3 miles, he said, on a 20-mile trip to Smithfield. The town hopes to keep the car for up to another year.

Lewis said the town also was still in the running for a government surplus pickup truck that could be used to ferry stray dogs to the pound.

"I hate to take one in a car. If your arms are strong enough, you can hold him outside the car," he said, evoking laughter from the audience.

Lewis also reported that he has applied for a grant for equipment.

Princeton has added a new police officer, Allen Wood Lee, who is being trained. He replaced Patrick Hux, who joined the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. Hux is still working part time in Princeton but now is recovering from a broken foot.

Lewis said he and his officers will walk the streets and visit every house in town April 17. They will be looking for animal violations, junked vehicles, unkempt yards and dilapidated buildings.

The chief also announced that the owner of the old school building got a permit in 2003 to remove the rundown part but no work has been done.

Lewis said the owner, Elaine Mabson of Bowie, Md., said the contractor took her first payment and fled and now she has a judgment against him.

Mayor Don Rains explained to a large group of Boy Scouts visiting the meeting that the old rundown lunchroom and some classrooms were a public health nuisance.

Lewis said a state health representative also was to survey Princeton and tell him what kind of mosquito program was needed.