Former Mountain Home, Ark., residents donate part of estate to fund K9 unit

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 3:13 PM CDT
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MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (KY3) - Two deceased Mountain Home community members have donated to the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office to help fund a K9 unit.

Cynthia and Lester Bergen started the Mark A. Bergen Memorial Endowment in memory of their only son, who was murdered in California in 2004. Since then, the two moved to Mountain Home.

“Cynthia and Lester were very dear people in our community. They attended many charity events and loved, just loved pets,” said Estella Rhoades, a board member with the Twin Lakes Community Foundation. “A K9 dog uncovered some evidence that helped find the perpetrator of his murder.”

Rhoades was a friend of the Bergens and says they were active community members who have created endowment funds for multiple organizations around Mountain Home.

“They were lovely people and wanted to do something so much for our community here,” she said.

The fund will give the sheriff’s office an annual check to help cover the costs of training and maintaining active police dogs.

“Having a K9 can expand on a lot of aspects of our job, whether it be searching for drugs or searching for people,” said Lt. Sebastian Dennis with the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office. “They are another valuable tool that allows us to best due are job and protect the community.”

Dennis is the only Baxter County deputy with experience handling a K9 and knows the expenses that come with it.

“The cost of a K9: getting training for the dog, the handler for that dog can go anywhere from $12-15,000,” he said. “The money that we have received is a tremendous asset that we can put towards those expenses, granted it is very costly.”

“What they did touches my heart and when I see someone take that next step to leave it as a better place means a lot to me,” said Rhoades.

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery says now that funding is there, several steps need to be taken, hopeful to outfit deputies with K9 companions within the next few years.

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