By Don Nelson
The Town of Winthrop plans to sell its dilapidated fleet of former law enforcement vehicles — or at least most of them — as surplus equipment.
That would include the “purple police car” — a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)vehicle that in recent years has appeared in parades or parked near the ball field in Winthrop with a manikin in the driver’s seat, intended to deter speeders.
At their Dec. 3 meeting, Town Council members discussed taking bids on the Trans Am as well as a 2002 Dodge Durango (123,546 miles), 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe (147,277 miles) and 2005 Ford Explorer (128,964 miles) that were all used at one time by the marshal’s office.
Each of the vehicles has mechanical or maintenance problems that cumulatively rendered the fleet unreliable. When Rikki Schwab was hired as the town marshal earlier this year, she recommended that Winthrop purchase two new pickup trucks, which are now outfitted and in use as police vehicles. Schwab and two deputies share use of the two trucks.
Town Clerk Michelle Gaines said that the Dodge, Chevrolet and Ford could be offered with no minimum bid, but she suggested that the town require a minimum bid of $5,000 on the Trans Am, which has resale value as a collector’s item and has only 62,500 miles on the odometer.
Council member Mike Strulic suggested that the town consider keeping one of the vehicles as a backup in case something happens to one of the new trucks. The council agreed to postpone action on surplusing the cars until it can be determined if one of them is worth keeping.
In other business, Vern Herrst was sworn in as a council member. He was appointed to fill the vacancy created when former council member Mort Banasky died earlier this year.
Herrst had earlier asked the council to clarify whether an existing town ordinance covering the discharge of firearms and weapons would allow or prohibit someone to practice archery on their own property with proper safeguards.
The ordinance reads: “It is prohibited to aim, discharge, throw or launch any weapon or instrument, whether loaded or not, in any public place or in any place where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals or property will be jeopardized, within the town of Winthrop.” The ordinance specifies arrows among the prohibited weapons.
Gaines said that her research indicates the ordinance was originally intended to prohibit hunting in town.
Herrst, a competitive archer, said it would be possible for him to set up a practice range in his yard without jeopardizing anything.
Council members seemed reluctant to tinker with the ordinance. Council member Rick Northcott said that Marshal Schwab “is a good judge of what’s not dangerous,” and that the town should look to her for enforcement decisions.