By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
State grants of $35,000 will help pay for the marine patrols in Lorain and Vermilion in summer 2015.
Both communities received the maximum amount of marine patrol grants through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for this year. It appeared 2015 is the first time the neighboring communities both received the $35,000 maximum allowed through ODNR.
The money comes as part of $575,745 the state will dedicate for marine patrols in 23 jurisdictions this year. The state money comes from the Ohio Waterways Safety Fund, which gets revenues from motor fuel taxes, boat registration and titling fees and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Lorain Marine Patrol for years has been one of the county’s most efficient and cost-effective law enforcement programs, said Yvonne Smith, accountant for the Lorain Port Authority and coordinator for the Lorain Marine Patrol’s grant and budget.
“The state will even tell you that the Lorain Marine Patrol gives them the best bang for their buck,” Smith said.
“They’re doing a fabulous job and just trying to keep everybody safe,” she said. “I am extremely proud of our marine patrol officers for the excellent service they provide for our citizens.”
The Lorain Marine Patrol had a budget of about $42,671 last year, with state grant funding paying for about $32,000 of the cost. The Lorain Police Department provides an officer and gas for the patrol boat, while the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office also deputizes some of the seven marine patrol officers, Smith said.
“We could not do it without them … so it’s really a collaborative effort,” Smith said.
The Lorain Marine Patrol operated April 3 to Nov. 18, 2014, with on-water patrols and vessel safety inspections from April 21 to Oct. 25, 2014.
The patrol officers had 28 on-water vessel safety inspections and 150 ramp, marina or dock inspections. The marine patrol officers made five citations or arrests and gave 230 warnings, mostly for boaters to have adequate visual distress signals.
The Lorain patrol also investigated two accidents and had seven search and rescue cases, resulting in six lives saves, according to its 2014 operating report. It also assisted 45 vessels with 691 people involved.
The Vermilion Marine Patrol had a 2014 budget of $42,880, with $32,000 in state grant money, sand Vermilion Police Sgt. Gordon Adams, who supervises the city’s water officers.
The Vermilion patrol had six documented lifesaving efforts in 2014, along with 204 vessel safety inspections, 316 written warnings and 38 issued citations. The Vermilion water officers logged nine search and rescue operations, four boat crashes and assisted 72 vessels, “so we were quite busy,” Adams said.
The Vermilion and Lorain units readily offer mutual aid to each other for special events such as fireworks, and will travel as far as Cleveland for events such as marine patrols around tall ship visits, Adams said.
The two also work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard Station Lorain for on-water operations including search and rescues when people go missing, Adams said.
Vermilion and Lorain marine patrol officers also schedule on-shore speaking and safety training, Adams said. The Lorain unit is available through the Lorain Port Authority at 440-204-2265 and the Vermilion unit is available through the police department at 440-967-6116.