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Hampden selectmen hope to open dialogue on resource officer funding

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN The Hampden Board of Selectmen did not know the Wilbraham Board of Selectmen were discussing the funding issues for the resource officer that serves at Minnechaug Regional High School until they read about it in the newspaper, according to John Flynn, chair of the Hampden selectmen, and Hampden Police Chief Jeff Farnsworth.

"No inquiries had been made of us," Flynn said. His board met with Farnsworth at their April 7 meeting to discuss the issue.

Currently, Wilbraham police officer Dan Menard works as the resource officer for the schools located in Wilbraham, including the regional high school. Part of his salary is paid through grant monies the Wilbraham Board of Selectmen met with Wilbraham Police Chief Allen Stratton March 31 to begin a discussion of where the rest of the officer's salary would come from.

Wilbraham selectman Patrick Brady said the portion of the officer's salary not covered by grants is split approximately 75/25, with Wilbraham taking the larger responsibility. He asked Stratton if that funding ratio could be shifted.

"That ratio makes sense because for every three Wilbraham kids in the school district, there is one Hampden kid," Flynn told Reminder Publications. "[The] 75/25 [ratio] would make sense from a school budget point of view."

Farnsworth said the Hampden Police Department provides funds for its own resource officer for the two schools located in Hampden.

"This is something that needs to be worked out at the select board level," Farnsworth noted. He added the police departments of the two towns have always worked very well together.

The Wilbraham Board of Selectmen agreed at the March 31 meeting to continue the funding discussion, and Flynn believes the Hampden board will initiate discussion with them within the next few weeks.

"We're trying to bring up a dialogue with the Wilbraham Board of Selectmen," Flynn stated. "There is no question the resource officer is a valuable tool ... There is much more to go on this, but it's not a contentious issue at all. We have a fantastic relationship with Wilbraham. We've been connected at the hip for 125 years."