Successful fundraiser for new K-9 Officer

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Following a fund-raising golf tournament to support the K9 Officer Fund, Blueberry Hill Golf Course representatives presented the proceeds — $17,552 — to Conewango Township Police K9 Officer Scott Neiswonger. Pictured (from left) are: Club Pro Gary McCollough, Tournament Coordinator Karen Sobkowski, Neiswonger, and Manager Jim Roth.

The effort to bring a new police K9 to Warren County has topped its primary monetary goal.

Thanks to a fund-raising golf tournament at Blueberry Hill Golf Course that far exceeded expectations, the Conewango Township Police K9 Fund has exceeded the amount it needs to purchase a new dog and have it trained.

Manager Jim Roth, Club Pro Gary McCollough, and Tournament Coordinator Karen Sobkowski presented a check to CTPD Officer Scott Neiswonger in the amount of $17,552 on Thursday.

Neiswonger said he had initially hoped the tournament could raise $5,000. “I needed about $4,000” to reach the number to purchase and train the dog, he said.

Funds above that amount will be spent on the program. There are many equipment needs and ongoing costs, Neiswonger said. A new K9 bullet-proof vest will cost about $3,600 alone.

The tournament came together quickly.

After the death of K9 Officer Choper in a training accident, Roth and Sobkowski wanted to help.

“It was so inspiring and the community was so much behind it, we wanted to do something to support the effort,” Roth said.

“This was their idea,” Neiswonger said. “They came to me.”

They put together the tournament in about four weeks, and it turns out, they weren’t the only ones interested in pitching in. “We got a lot of sponsors… a lot of support,” Roth said.

“In four days we had raised $7,000,” Sobkowski said. “We were filled (144 golfers) in less than two weeks.”

Hole sponsors were sending 10 times the requested amount, she said.

“It couldn’t have been more successful,” Roth said.

Sobkowski, Roth, and Neiswonger all expressed their thanks to the many contributors and volunteers that made the event so successful.

“This is the first annual,” Sobkowski said. “We are definitely going to continue this.”

Future tournaments, fund-raisers, and donations will help cover ongoing expenses including insurance and training.

The Community Foundation of Warren County made an establishing grant and administers the K9 fund.

“This is the future of the police K9 programs,” Neiswonger said.

Neiswonger is not sure when the new K9 will join the Conewango force and begin working in the county.

“We’re looking into the next available academy,” he said.