North Liberty pumpkin patch to support K-9 fundraising efforts

K-9 costs about $75,000

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NORTH LIBERTY — The owners of a North Liberty pumpkin patch said they’ll donate a portion of this year’s proceeds to the North Liberty Police Department’s efforts to obtain a K-9 officer.

Dean and Katie Colony, co-owners of the Colony Pumpkin Patch, plan to donate a portion of their 2016 pumpkin season proceeds to the North Liberty Police Department, Katie Colony said Thursday. The pumpkin patch opens for the season this Saturday.

Colony said the roughly 20 acre pumpkin patch, which includes a 5 acre corn maze and 12 acres of pumpkins, has raised funds for different organizations in the past, including the Be the Match bone marrow program, North Liberty Community Food Pantry and the North Liberty centennial celebration.

“We try and find something that’s local,” Colony said. “We really just wanted to support local things.”

This year’s corn maze, which is cut each year in a different design to reflect that year’s fundraising efforts, features a dog, police officer and K-9 badge. Colony said they hired an Idaho-based company, MazePlay, to implement the concept and cut the corn.

North Liberty Police Chief Diane Venenga said there has been a lot of interest in adding a K-9, but there have always been budget constraints. The total cost of adding a K-9 is about $75,000, which would include the dog, training and a specially outfitted vehicle.

“It’s always been a question of ‘Do you get a K-9 or hire another officer?’” Venenga said.

During the budget planning process, Venenga said if the department could raise the $75,000 through donations, then they’d pursue adding a K-9 to the ranks.

“The first ones to come through the door were the Colonys,” Venenga said. “It was perfect timing, actually.”

Colony said she doesn’t know exactly how much money will go to the police department. The percentage of proceeds will be determined at the end of the season, which comes on Oct. 30.

“It kind of depends on how good our season is,” Colony said.

Colony said the annual fall festival on Oct. 8 will feature police officers doing car seat safety checks at the pumpkin patch and demonstrations from other K-9 officers in the county. She’s hoping to line up other police appearances throughout the season.

“The North Liberty Police Department is definitely going to have a presence through the entire season,” Colony said.

Venenga said the police department is also planning other fundraising efforts, including selling T-shirts and reaching out to area businesses. Venenga said once the K-9 — which would be a dual purpose narcotics detection and search dog — is added to the department, officers plan to host an annual 5K race fundraiser to cover the ongoing costs related to maintaining the dog.

“We’ll see how far it goes,” Venenga said. “It’s kind of exciting and new.”

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