EAST LIVERPOOL — Police K-9 programs for St. Clair Township and the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office each received $4,000 in donations from the recently revived Wings-N-Wheels airplane, car and motorcycle shows , hosted by the Columbiana County Airport Authority last month.
“We chose the dogs because it benefits the whole county,” County Airport Authority Board Chair and Events Chair Jim Pusateri said Tuesday.
Pusateri and fellow board member Tim O’Hara, who faced the challenge of handling parking on the day of the show, presented the checks to St. Clair Township Patrolman Josh Jackson and his K-9 partner Noras, as well as Patrolman Keith Hilderbrand and County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Damin Beadnell and his K-9 partner Hunter. The senior class at Beaver Local High School was also presented with a $500 check for helping park show cars and spectator cars when the August 28 event was held at the airport on County Airport Road.
Pusateri said this is the first time Wings-N-Wheels has been held in 18 years and the first time the airport authority has planned and managed the event. The last one took place in 2004 and was previously organized by a pilots association. He credited Penny Clark of Kolkata with bringing the idea back to the board. She had helped at previous events and her father had been a pilot. She served on the events committee along with Pusateri, O’Hara, board member Bruce Mays and his wife Denise Mays, Tom McKinney, board member Dan Thompson and his wife Jill Thompson, and Bob Gbur.
Other board members include Dave Norris, Frank Ungaro and Mark Mangano.
Due to inclement weather on the original date, the event was postponed a week, with the new date the weather playing its part, giving the airport-based Beaver Creek Skydivers beautiful blue skies to entertain the crowds with skydiving demonstrations.
Pusateri admitted they didn’t expect so many vehicles to show up, with more than 290 show cars along with a significant display of WWII-era open-cockpit biplanes to keep visitors entertained. Also on display was a Douglas C-47 from the Air Heritage Museum at Beaver County Airport, sponsored by Power Chevrolet of Kolkata.
“We learned a lot from this event” said Pusateri, adding that they look forward to planning for next year.
He said the plan is to get more vendors, more Port-A-Jons, more parking lots and more food vendors. You also decide who will benefit from the proceeds next time, whether it will be the dogs again or another worthwhile organization.
For St. Clair Township, the donation brings the police department much closer to acquiring a second dog who will work with Hilderbrand. He said they needed $70,000 to cover the cost of the dog, training, equipment and the cruiser outfitted for a K-9. With the airport authority’s new donation, he said, their total comes to $50,000, which comes from donations and fundraisers.
Anyone wishing to donate to the St. Clair Township Police Dog Fund can contact the police department at 330-386-3585.
Hilderbrand said the community is looking to get a second dog because of the increase in drug use. The dog is from Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania, where dogs are trained alone for six weeks, then the community chooses one and Hilderbrand will train the dog for another six weeks or more. There is a group of K-9s and their handlers in the county who meet weekly for training.
The sheriff’s office has three K-9s with assigned handlers, including Beadnell and K-9 Hunter, Deputy Jonathan Kerchofer and K-9 Jimmy, and Deputy Luke Skidmore and K-9 Diva.
Pusateri said the committee hopes to attract more sponsors for next year’s Wings-N-Wheels. In addition to #1 Power GM, donations this year came from: Jim’s Barber Shop; Decaria brothers; Aronson, Fineman & Davis; Hill International; MESO, Inc.; Miller, Stacey & Associates; Superior Navy; Sunny Ridge Vet; CARE funeral directors; diloreto construction; giant eagle; Pusateri Excavation; Protech Electric; Valley conversion; Balzer’s heater; masonry paint; pipelines; and Kohler Dental.
Bruce Mays added that the event had also received a lot of support from the community and from precinct commissioners, with Commissioner Tim Weigle promoting the show at commissioners’ meetings.