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Police trained in drug response

BLASDELL — The growing list of police agencies trained in responding to and combating overdoses related to heroin and other opioids now includes Blasdell.

Joseph Gramaglia, who serves as Blasdell police lieutenant, stated at the village board’s May 21 meeting that about half of the department’s officers recently received training related to administering Narcan, also known as Naloxone, a drug stated as countering the effects of ingested and needled heroin and other opioids. It was explained that the Narcan administering process includes officers and medical personnel responding to assist those in need of life-saving by allowing nasal-induced breathing capability, following an overdose. The joint training was conducted along with the town of Hamburg Police Department.

Blasdell Mayor Michael Petrie added that village fire department members will soon receive similar Narcan training for their responses to overdose incidents. A Narcan kit will be installed in a patrol car in which a trained officer is present.

In addition, Blasdell officials stated their desire for village police to begin the pricing process to implement a license plate scanner for the department. Estimated by Gramaglia as costing around $18,000, the scanner was stated as serving assistance to officers in identifying vehicles that have been logged in police databases as stolen, as well as identifying individuals owning a vehicle who may have suspended or expired licenses or registrations, or have criminal and other warrants. The scanner can instantaneously identify each passing license plate that a patrol officer encounters, enabling a quick and efficient process.

“[Village officials] want to make it a priority,” Gramaglia said of the scanner pricing and implementation.

“It lets an officer know exactly who’s in the car, and if that person is dangerous [based on their possible criminal history],” added Petrie.

Summer time has proven to be a busy time for Blasdell police, who last year made a record-high 41 driving while intoxicated arrests. Gramaglia noted that additional DWI patrol will take place in the village on Friday and Saturday nights, over the summer. A high percentage of STOP DWI organization funding allows these overtime patrols, with DWI fines also resulting in future patrol allowance.

Also at the meeting, the village board approved the appointment of Robert Yeates to the position of part-time police officer in Blasdell; as well as the resignation of part-time police officer Michael Fontana, who accepted a full-time position in another department. Yeates has served in the city of Buffalo Police Department for the past 28 years, including 14 in the Gang Supression Unit, as well as being a trained scuba diver for departmental purposes. Yeates will serve as a police detective in Blasdell, and Gramaglia said his past experience in Buffalo will be a valued commodity with the village.

Other meeting action included the village board setting a hearing date of June 18 to discuss the future of a dilapidated building at 3705 S. Park Ave. Located near Miriam Avenue, the building was stated as being heavily damaged by fire last fall and has been brought up in length at prior meetings as violating Village Code 100-A, regarding unsafe properties. Attorney Brian Attea, representing property owners Brian and Nadine Stroud, was present at the May 21 meeting to state his hope for saving and selling the site.

Blasdell officials expressed their concerns about the safety and aesthetics of the property, as well as the likelihood of rodents frequenting the site. Village Attorney James Shaw said a few possible outcomes could come from the hearing process, including demolishing the property – stated by Petrie as being a last-ditch scenario – or ordering repair to a sufficient status level of the site. It was stated that village officials do not want this long-ongoing process to keep dragging.

“We’re willing to work with you,” Deputy Mayor Lou McDonald said, to the owners’ attorney, “but empty promises [by the site owners regarding a plan moving forward]mean nothing.”

McDonald added later in the meeting that the new Save-A-Lot store is still on track to open June 1 in the old Hills Plaza on Lake Avenue. Other new additions to the plaza include a sporting goods store and child care center. Also, the new Black Iron Bistro had its grand opening May 27 on South Park Avenue.

Also, McDonald said that Blasdell Book kiosks will be stocked soon for residents’ reading pleasure, with the hopeful addition of new books to the sites taking place each Thursday.

June 4, marks the beginning of the village Farmer’s Market, which is located in the parking lot next to Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant on South Park Avenue. Initiated in 2012 in Blasdell, the farmer’s market is described by Petrie as being a welcome addition to the village, as a localized gathering place for residents to buy fresh produce and other items. Last year, the market took place on Wednesdays and ran through October.

Trustee Kathy Seufert King stated that the local Pitch, Hit and Run baseball/softball event will take place May 31 at JFK Playground. Registration will be at 8:45 a.m., with the competition occurring at 10 a.m. Children aged 7-14 may participate, for children who will turn 7 years old, as of July 17. Interested parties can register through the village.
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