Supervisors okay first reading of vicious animal ordinance

Also discuss Ring Out for Art sculptures on courthouse grounds

~by Janice Harbaugh for GreeneCountyNewsOnline

The Greene County board of supervisors heard public comment on the first reading of the proposed dangerous and vicious animal ordinance at its regular meeting Jan 6. Linn Cipperley-Price, director of the non-profit Animal Protection and Education (APE) , asked about the definition of “provocation” as compared to an “unprovoked bite” from an animal.

The board discussed various scenarios and generally defined a provoked bite as occurring during the protection of people, property, or the animal protecting itself if it has been attacked or injured, even unintentionally as in the case of a child falling on it. These would not count against the animal.

Board chair John Muir said, “Each incident has to be dealt with common sense, too.”
Cipperley-Price also asked about criminal penalties as opposed to civil, or tort, penalties for owners in violation of the various aspects of the proposed ordinance. County attorney Thomas Laehn said the board could spell out the penalties in terms of fines or jail time, up to a maximum set by law.

Cipperley-Price spoke about wolf-dog hybrids and coyote-dog hybrids possibly being added to the dangerous list because “there isn’t a rabies vaccine labeled as effective for them.”

The idea of an animal control officer and of requiring permits for dangerous animals was discussed briefly. When asked by GreeneCountyNewsOnline how often people have been bitten in the past five years, sheriff Jack Williams estimated “10 times out in the county.”

The board unanimously approved the first reading of the proposed ordinance after deleting a requirement for signage on property where a dangerous animal is kept and adjusting the penalties for owners in violation. Specific definitions of “vicious animal” were clarified.

A copy of the draft of the proposed animal ordinance is available in the auditor’s office. The second of three public readings of the proposed ordinance will be at the board meeting on Jan. 9 at 8:30 am.

A lengthy resolution soliciting sculptures in celebration of the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower was approved by supervisors Bardole, Burkett, Muir, and Rudolph. Supervisor Tom Contner voted against the resolution.

The resolution spells out reasons for putting art on courthouse grounds and sets standards for the art. Art must fit on a 4X4-foot pad and must “convey a message of pride in the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower and gratitude to Floyd and Dora Mahanay for their gift to the people of Greene County.”

The board of supervisors retains editorial control over choosing art for the grounds and has set a limit of three sculptures. One sculpture will be allowed to remain on the grounds from May 1 through April 30 of the next year. Any of the remaining one or two sculptures are allowed only from May 1 to Nov 1 of the same year.

Jefferson Matters: Main Street is responsible for the Ring Out for Art contest each year prior to Bell Tower Festival in June. The resolution makes that group responsible for providing pads for sculptures and ensuring that each artist whose work is selected agrees to “indemnify and hold harmless Greene County and its officers, employees, and agents from any claims, damages, injuries, or losses caused while his or her work is on display on the Courthouse grounds.”

Allowing sculptures on county property has been controversial over the past months and led to the county attorney recommending a resolution specific to the situation. Control of the messages of the art, the process for soliciting art, and authority to reject any or all art resides in the board of supervisors.

Public discussion over the past months has centered around the liability of private art being on county property, some perception that the art makes the courtyard look cluttered, and the perception of some that art in that place detracts from the architecture and history of the courthouse.

Before the passage of the resolution, county attorney Laehn said, “Artists will have to sign a written indemnity agreement holding the county harmless.” He added, “We need to look at our insurance.”

In discussion with supervisor Pete Bardole, who is liaison to the Jefferson Matters: Tower View Team, Laehn also said a recent call for artists to submit art “was not consistent with the board’s decision.”

Supervisor Tom Contner voted against the resolution saying, “We don’t need art there.”

A copy of the resolution is available in the auditor’s office.

In budgetary business, the board heard requests for FY21 from sheriff Jack Williams for the sheriff’s department, Chuck Wenthold from the environmental department, and representatives from the Greene County Librarians Association.

Williams asked for an increase of $64,000 over the current $1.5 million combined sheriff budgets. The budget proposal includes two new vehicles and negotiated increases in wages for deputies, dispatchers, and jailers. Williams estimated revenue of nearly $238,000 for FY21 with much of the revenue coming from contracted law enforcement payments from the cities in the county. No action was taken by the board.

Wenthold ‘s request included a 3 percent wage increase over the current year. He reported expenditures at $75,000, up about $1,000 from the current year. No action was taken by the board.

The gallery was filled with representatives from the Greene County Librarians Association when the group presented their accomplishments and budgetary needs for FY21. Librarians, board members, and interested people attended.

Their presentation included photos from events through the year and data collected on library usage throughout the county. Speakers included Wendy Johnson, president of the Greene County Library Association; Jane Millard and Teri Clark from the Jefferson library, Marilyn Tilley and Shari Minnehan from Churdan library; Diane Kafer from Grand Junction library; and library directors from Paton and Rippey. The new librarian from Paton, Alysha Oravetz, was introduced.

The group cited 421 people in attendance at Toddler Fest and 93 percent of the 8,981 people in Greene County as having used the libraries in the past year. Other programs included summer reading, movies, teen programs, Greene County Reads, technology, and online newspaper archives.

Susan Laehn, Jerry Roberts, and Mike Piepel spoke of libraries being “social gathering places” and an attraction for young families to locate in the county. The group’s budget request for FY21 totaled $81,600 which was a 4 percent increase over current year.
Muir said, “Library money has always been responsibly spent,” Contner added, “You do a wonderful job with the kids.”

No action was taken by the board.

Resolution 2020-02 was unanimously approved by the board recognizing Joe Brant upon his retirement from the secondary roads department. Muir presented Brant with a certificate which read: “Be it resolved that Greene County sincerely appreciates Joe Brant’s 23 years, 2 months, and 26 days of service maintaining the secondary road system. His attention to detail in all aspects of his job and particularly with the construction and maintenance of publicly owned facilities is commendable.”

Wade Weiss cited Brant’s “tremendous ability in carpentry skills in conservation, the trail system, park sites for camping, the Bell Tower and courthouse.”

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