The Pickerington Police Department's new Drug Abuse Resistance Education vehicle runs on compressed natural gas, thus saving money, protecting the environment and educating kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol all in one turn of the ignition key.
The Honda Civic CNG car comes courtesy of a combined donation to the city of Pickerington from Lindsay Honda and Volunteer Energy.
Lindsay Honda, a Columbus-based automobile dealership, donated the vehicle while Volunteer Energy provided a monetary donation of $11,000 to cover the considerable difference in expense between a gasoline-powered car and a CNG car.
"Words can't describe how generous they were with the donation," said Pickerington Police Chief Mike Taylor.
"We're very appreciative that they realize the importance of the DARE program and what it can do," Taylor said.
Chief Taylor said the Pickerington Police Department took delivery of the vehicle, its first that runs on compressed natural gas, two weeks ago.
Commander Matt Delp said the vehicle will be utilized solely by Officer Dan Simcox for DARE and Community Relations programs throughout the city of Pickerington and its schools.
"He's the only one that drives it," Delp said of Simcox.
"He does it before school for the DARE Program, for the over-the-counter prescription medicine program at the junior high level and alcohol awareness at the high school level," he said.
"(Simcox) also works closely with the opiate task force in Fairfield County," Delp said.
Putting all those miles on a vehicle that runs on compressed natural gas benefits both the environment and the city's pocket book, Taylor said.
"Besides running on clean fuel, it's a lot cheaper than what gasoline is," he said.
"Gasoline is running almost four dollars a gallon," Taylor said.
Fred Holmes, director of municipal aggregation for Volunteer Energy, said compressed natural gas costs only $1.94 a gallon.
"It's just much, much more cleaner and doesn't put out as many pollutants," Holmes said.
"It's the right way to go," he said.
For now, the new Honda Civic CNG will have to travel about three miles from the police station to obtain fuel "at a filling station on Brice Road," Holmes said.
Volunteer Energy also presented the city of Pickerington with a check for $8,931.59 at the Pickerington City Council meeting April 16.
That payment is part of a natural gas aggregation agreement between Volunteer Energy and the city whereupon city residents receive natural gas from the company.
Volunteer Energy, in turn, donates 5 cents to Pickerington for every 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas sold in the city.
Holmes said City Council makes the call on how to use the money.
"The purpose is to give it back to the community. It's their money," Holmes said.
Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance said the annual natural gas re-investment check has been a great benefit to the city.
"This support has in the past couple years funded the city's Olde Village Revitalization matching grants and this year may assist with Pickerington's summer concert series sponsorship shortfalls," Vance said.
"Words can't describe how generous they were with the donation. We're very appreciative that they realize the importance of the DARE program and what it can do."
-- MIKE TAYLOR
Pickerington Police chief