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Deputies to patrol in pickups

Ford trucks will join this Chevy in the Sheriff's Department fleet. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

The Hubbard County Sheriff's Department will soon resemble most area motorists, drivers of pickup trucks.

The county board approved the purchase Wednesday of two pickups and a new squad car.

Sheriff Cory Aukes said with the winters the region has seen lately, "four-wheel drives are invaluable."

On numerous occasions last winter, Aukes said squad cars and deputies behind the wheel had to be rescued by larger departmental vehicles in heavy snow.

Pickups are a better deal than SUVs or cars, the department has concluded, with a higher potential resale value.

Commissioner Dick Devine, a former state patrol officer, wondered how the trucks would perform in a high-speed chase.

"They obviously won't drive like a Crown Vic," Aukes said, But the pickups can corner at high speeds and stay on the road.

"If we were having a lot of chases," Aukes said, he might rethink the decision.

"But the days of driving 130 mph are over," he said.

The pickups, four-door models, can also be used to haul evidence, he said.

The commission left it to the sheriff to see if he could get the best deal locally on the trucks, since a local bidder was only $300 higher than a dealer in Walker.

The board also approved to commit up to $187,500 in matching funds to purchase ARMER radio infrastructure equipment as the county begins an expensive conversion to narrowband radio. The board also approved committing up to $20,000 in matching funds if a grant for more radio equipment becomes available.

The larger grant is a 50-50 match; the smaller one only obligated the county to pay 20 percent of the costs.

The department also announced that Dep. Chad Olson has been tapped to fill the second sergeant's position left vacant by Mark Krossen's resignation.

Shane Plautz was promoted earlier this winter to fill the first sergeant position left vacant when Aukes was elected sheriff.

In other business, the board:

n Approved an agreement to rebuild the Heartland Park fishing pier, which is 25 years old. The DNR will foot the costs. The old pier will be refurbished and placed on Newman Lake for trout fishing.

n Approved a resolution to advance up to $800,000 of financing for county road projects in case of a state government shutdown. County engineer Dave Olsonawski said it was simply a contingency measure to ensure payment for ongoing projects.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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