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Dog named for fallen officer donated to Cape K-9 unit

By Staff | Feb 13, 2013

It was certainly an emotional City Council meeting Monday at City Hall, even without the result of K-C’s River Stop.

A police officer who was killed in the line of duty would have his dream of being part of a K-9 unit fulfilled through a dog.

The parents of Nathan Burnfield have donated a police dog to the Cape Coral Police Department and named the dog after him to continue the service he wasn’t able to complete when he was hit by a truck trying to remove a tire off the road.

“We lost Nate when his career was just beginning. By doing this, Nathan’s dream will live on,” said Debbie Burnfield, Nathan’s mother. “The dog makes him reborn.”

Nate the dog will receive Nathan’s old badge number and will be handled by Sean McCreary, who was born and raised in Cape Coral.

All the members of the K-9 unit were on hand for the ceremony, which resulted in a standing ovation for the family and dog.

“The K-9 unit is really a family. What they do for us, they lay their lives down for their handler,” Councilmember Marty McClain said.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Rodriguez wept for her father and for her inability to pay a more than $800 water bill from a house she had to abandon in 2010 after it was discovered it had Chinese drywall.

Rodriguez protested that she shouldn’t have to pay the bill because she hadn’t used any water after she left the house.

However, customer billing services manager Bill Boyd said she did use $110 in consumed water, was assessed late fees of $160, and was charged the rest as a readiness for use charge, which is assessed whether the house has Chinese drywall or has been destroyed by fire.

It was a situation Councilmember Chris Chulakes- Leetz sympathized with.

“This is an unusual circumstance. No water was consumed and we don’t have an ordinance that foresees these problems,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “One percent of the rate ratepayers pay is for adjustments. Everyone has to pay them.”

Most on the council agreed that allowing Rodriguez her appeal would open a can of worms.

“I sympathize but the ordinance is clear about what we can do. Everyone has hardships and if we set the precedent everyone pays for it,” McClain said.

In the end, they agreed 7-1 to waive the late fee, which brought the bill down by $165. Mayor John Sullivan was opposed. Chulakes-Leetz reluctantly supported it saying a little savings was better than none.

Rodriguez wept at the podium after the decision, pleading with council to give her a break, but that was the only break she would get.

Rodriguez also hopes to get the permit fees waived through remediation from the drywall, which would save her an additional $700.

Also, the council was introduced to an ordinance amending the city’s Land Use and Development Regulations, to add recreational vehicle parks as a special exception use in the agricultural district.

This would help clear the way for a proposed RV resort to be constructed on Burnt Store Road.

The public will get to speak out on the ordinance on Feb. 25 and March 11.

There is no meeting next Monday in observance of Presidents Day.