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Founding members of Greensburg's bloodhound team honored

| Friday, June 15, 2012, 2:52 a.m.

Founding members of Greensburg's bloodhound team were honored by a national organization and others during a recent banquet at Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort in Somerset County.

Fire Chief Ed Hutchinson and Dale Eicher, first captain and the first dog handler of the fire department's bloodhound team, received awards from the National Police Bloodhound Association for their contributions to the community and Western Pennsylvania.

Hutchinson was honored for his 40 years of service since founding the dog team. His award was presented by Doug Lowry, a retired Maryland State Police corporal, and Mike Flora, chairman of the police bloodhound group.

The team is believed to be the first bloodhound search group started in the state by a fire department. It also is the only member of about 300 in the national bloodhound association that was created by a fire department. All the other members of the national organization are from police departments.

Hutchinson came up with the idea of a dog team after reading several articles about searching for people.

Also recognized with certificates for their years of service to the National Police Bloodhound Association were Greensburg bloodhound team members Lt. Roland "Buddy" Mertz, 20 years, and Capt. Lou Battistella, 10 years.

The ceremony was held in conjunction with the national bloodhound group's fall seminar and business meeting, with the Greensburg fire department as host.

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