Elks grant targets safety programs in need of updating

Elks Exalted Ruler Robert W. Geiger, BVPD officer David Kunikis, WPD officer Keenan Cook, WPD auxiliary officer Rick Grane, Elks Leading Knight Robert F. Geiger and WPD Chief Kevin Bielozer. Photo by Tara Wendell

Westlake and Bay Village’s Safety Town programs recently got mini-makeovers. Rick Grane, an auxiliary Westlake police officer and member of Elks Lodge 1350, requested a $2,000 grant from the Elks to enhance the programs, which educate pre-kindergarten children on traffic and school safety issues.

The most notable beneficiary of the grant is Westlake’s beloved safety mascot, Safety Pup. Grane, who is most often the man inside the fake fur, said the costume was in dire need of updating.

“The old Safety Pup is probably 20 or 30 years old,” Grane said. “He’s wearing bell bottoms and the cooling fan inside hasn’t worked in years.” The updated Pup, at roughly $900, will feature more modern attire and a solar-powered fan inside the head piece. It is expected to make its debut at the graduation ceremonies of the Safety Town sessions in mid-to-late July.

The Westlake D.A.R.E. program also received a chunk of the grant money. Officer Keenan Cook said the department plans to use the funds to purchase supplies, books, brochures, T-shirts and pizza parties for students.

After hearing that Bay’s Safety Town was in need of financial assistance, Grane included it as part of his grant proposal. Bay’s program is back under police control this year after being privately run in the recent past. Officer David Kunikis is in charge of the program, and was grateful for the grant.

“We were starting almost from the ground up this year,” Kunikis said. “The equipment was there, but it was getting old.”

Among the upgrades funded by the grant is a new set of interactive 9-1-1 simulator phones, which replicate the experience of phoning in an emergency. Children learn how to respond to a dispatcher’s questions and provide information including their name and address. Kunikis said that many of the safety videos and DVDs were in need of updating, as was the program’s first-aid kit.

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Volume 6, Issue 14, Posted 10:57 AM, 07.08.2014