Rogers County Unloads Expensive, Rarely Used Boat

Tuesday, November 30th 2010, 6:47 pm
By: News On 6

Lori Fullbright, News On Six

CLAREMORE, Oklahoma -- After the September 11th attacks, the Department of Homeland Security began handing out millions of dollars to law enforcement agencies to help make cities more secure.

Even small departments were suddenly equipped with expensive trailers and dozens of gas masks and Hazmat suits.

That's how the Rogers County Sheriff's Department ended up with a Boston Whaler. The $50,000 boat has never been used, not even once, since it was purchased in 2008.

So, the new sheriff came up with a plan that saves his department money and gets the boat to where it can actually be used.

The Rogers County Sheriff's Department has been paying to maintain, insure and store the Boston Whaler. The original idea was to use it at the Port of Catoosa, since securing ports was a big focus after 9/11.

However, when Sheriff Scott Walton inherited the Boston Whaler, he began trying to figure out how to get rid of it, so he's donating it to OHP since Homeland Security says it can't be sold.

"It'll be better utilized and serve more people this way and not be a burden to us for upkeep," said Sheriff Walton.

The two times during Sheriff's Walton's tenure a boat was needed for a rescue, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol had a boat in the water before he could get even get someone to get this boat out of storage.

Taxpayers get a better deal now, because the boat can now be used all over the state. It's smaller than the regular patrol boats and can maneuver easier around barges and in rivers.

"If we have calls for stranded boaters, we can trailer it at a boat ramp which will make it quicker that way to get to em," said OHP Trooper Ben Chapman.

Sheriff Walton says Rogers County citizens will still have access to the boat, but giving up the upkeep, saves about $2,000 a year and that's money he can use for things his department really needs.

"We need cars, we need people, we don't need a boat," Walton said.

OHP plans to store the boat near Rogers County and the Port and once it's eventually sold or salvaged the money it brings will go back to the Sheriff's Department.