Animal control issue still clogging meetings
by Jazz Clark
The Morgan County Commissioners have declined to create a separate committee to look into animal control issues, that would have eliminated the constant discussion that clogs county government meetings like high cholesterol in an artery.
The committee was proposed by county resident Kevin Sites. The commissioners showed no support due to doubts about whether the committee could be effective and whether impartial members could be found.
Sites has been a member of many boards and considers himself someone who can come to compromise on tough cases.
“This issue has taken valuable time from other issues,” Sites said. “The key is finding solutions in both the short and the long term. By working together and finding middle ground to work from instead of seeing who can out-shout the other, we can spend our time more wisely.”
Were the resolution to pass, the commission would appoint a six-person task force with two people appointed by each commissioner.
Suggested improvements to the animal facility were to be delivered within six months, evaluating current needs and deciding priorities. Items such as policies and procedures, training requirements, grant availability, facilities and more were up for review.
At that time, a complete analysis and recommendation, including long-term and short-term goals, would be compiled.
Jeannie Mozier of Travel Berkeley Springs thought the resolution is in the commissioners’ best interest as well as the public’s.
“You should not have to sit week after week and hear endless presentations, some of which are factual and some of which aren’t,” Mozier said. “This is not about personal agendas, this is not about finding a solution, this is about giving the commission the information they need so they can make informed decisions.”
Having the discussion go on week after week is a phenomenal waste of time, Mozier said.
But Commissioner Brad Close was unsure that a committee is needed.
“As I’ve continually said, as long as we stick to what we need to do by the state code we’re okay,” Close said. “Finding people to serve on this board is going to be next to impossible.”
Close has, however, received several phone calls from people willing to serve.
To Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson, there’s one simple question: Do you believe the facility that we have is adequate and in the right place?
Hutchinson does not, believing the kennels are in a residential area and the lack of space equates to animal cruelty.
“If we agree that a new facility is needed, how are we going to make that happen and go forward?” Hutchinson asked. “It may not happen tomorrow, may not happen six months from now, but we need a commitment that this is the direction we should be going.”
The commissioners are unsure where the funds for a new facility will come from.
The county’s application for a Petco Foundation grant has been declined.
Commission president Stacy Dugan’s proposal to let the public vote on a special tax on the November ballot for this purpose has received no feedback.