NEW PORT RICHEY — If you combine local resources, Touch-A-Truck and a police dog, it would result in the “Get Connected with Your Community” Public Services Expo.
The resource event was held at River Ridge Middle School on March 2. It was made possible by a collaboration between the Pasco County Public Services Branch and the River Ridge Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association.
Brian Hoben, program administrator for the Public Services Branch, wanted to shed a light on the programs available to residents.
“The idea behind it was to really get the community together and educate the community on the services we offer on a daily basis,” Hoben said. “I think that there is a lot of resources in each of these departments with its own nuance that the public may not know about.”
Nine departments in the branch set up a table and provided information to the event attendees.
“It’s a fun, engaging way to bring families in and show them what we are doing. I think it’s our way of serving the community to make a better future,” Hoben said. “Everyone is coming together and it’s so positive.”
The event had a steadily arriving turnout with a couple hundred people exploring the different aspects of the expo.
K9 Benco was one of the stars of the event, along with his handler, Deputy Patrick Bingham.
“It’s good to get in touch with the community and let the community see the dogs and how they act when they are kind of just chilling and not working,” the deputy said. “Our dogs are extremely social.”
According to the trading cards handed out to children, K9 Benco joined the Pasco Sheriff’s Office in 2015. The German shepherd does patrol, which includes tracking suspects or missing people. He’s one of three of the Sheriff’s Office’s Explosive Detection K9s as well as the only SWAT K9 in the law enforcement agency.
Bingham has appeared multiple times on “Live PD,” a real-time broadcast television show on the A&E Network that follows officers in multiple law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Pasco Sheriff’s Office.
“It shows what law enforcement goes through on a daily basis, whether it be like a real exciting call or a real dull call, they get to see it all. There’s no filter,” Bingham said to the TV program.
Because of the exposure, Bingham said, he gets recognized sometimes and asked to sign autographs.
Renee Morgan brought her son, a River Ridge Middle School sixth-grader, to the event because he was excited for the opportunity to meet the duo.
“He really wanted to see the ‘Live PD,’ ” she said.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Mounted Posse was also present at the expo.
While planning the event, Tara Fielding, treasurer for the River Ridge Middle School PTSA, was surprised to learn about a type of service that assists a large amount of people in the county.
“Senior services might be something that a lot of people don’t know about because I didn’t even know about it,” Fielding said.
For children, there were bounce houses and an inflatable obstacle course. Food options included two food trucks, Melt Machine and Just Smokin’ BBQ, as well as Bahama Bucks.
In the Touch-A-Truck aspect, there were a variety of vehicles for youngsters to explore, including the Fire Rescue, Pasco County Transit and Pasco County school busses.
A few of the showcased Public Service departments included the Pasco County Library Cooperative, School Board, and Animal Services.
Other tables included the UF-IFAS Extension and Know More Pasco – Stop Human Trafficking.
For more information about community resources, visit www.pascocountyfl.net/250/Public-Services.