Six people have applied for three open positions on the Oconee County Animal Services Advisory Board and will have a chance tomorrow (Tuesday) night to make their case for appointment.
The Board of Commissioners will consider appointments to the Animal Services Board as well as to three other citizen bodies, the Family and Children Services Board, the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission, and the Oconee County Library Board.
Only one person has applied for the single slot on the Family and Children Services Board.
The Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission has three openings, but it, too, attracted only a single applicant.
The Library Board attracted only a single applicant for the one open slot.
The agenda-setting meeting of the Board of Commissioners begins at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
Controversy On Board
The Animal Services Advisory Board, formerly known as the Animal Control Advisory Board, has had a rocky relationship with the Animal Services Department, which was formerly known as the Animal Control Department.
The Board has offered less than full support for the animal adoption program run by the Animal Shelter and for efforts by Animal Services Department Director Catlyn Vickers to push for an upgrade to the Animal Shelter itself.
Board Chair Tom Beacon has not applied for reappointment when his term ends on June 30, according to county records released this morning.
Former Board Chair Susan Scheff Wells also is not seeking reappointment.
Claire Hamilton, who has been particularly outspoken in her disagreements with the Animal Shelter staff, has applied for reappointment.
Kimberly Keegan, who has served as coordinator of the foster program run by the Animal Services Department, has applied for appointment to the Animal Services Advisory Board.
Keegan was one of 10 applicants for two openings on the Board at this time last year.
Other applicants are W. Mark Dawson, an animal facilities supervisor at the University of Georgia, Craig Greene, a veterinarian, Audrey Ann Haynes, a teacher, and Walter Rhyne, who lists his occupation as sales on the application form.
Rosemarie Newman, who works in health services, is the sole applicant for the Family and Child Services Board. She currently serves on that body.
Mary Mellein, who is retired, is the sole applicant for the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission. She has served on the Commission in the past.
Laura French, an attorney, is the sole applicant for the Library Board.
Time to move on, Claire Hamilton. She's been nothing but negative, unsupportive of a new shelter, and combative with the shelter management. There are many better options to serve on the Oconee County Animal Services Advisory Board.
Hamilton, who has been a consistent critic of the Animal Shelter, asserted that the number of intakes of animals at shelters around the country is declining. She said that supported her argument that the county didn’t need to spend $2.9 million on a new facility.
County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko told the Advisory Board that the shelter “is a paramount issue” for the Board of Commissioners.
During the new business section of the meeting, Fosgate said she wanted to revisit the request by Vickers at the previous meeting “to strengthen the ordinance to allow the animal control staff to investigate the premises when they get complaints about possible hoarding situations and puppy mills next door.”
Vickers spoke in support, saying the ordinance at present restricts what she can do. “All I can do is issue a citation for unsanitary conditions, proper care. That’s it,” she said.
Hamilton was outspoken in opposition, as the clip below shows. She offered a variety of objections and said “This is not a police state, and there are certain rights under the Bill of Rights that need to be preserved.”
Advisory Board member Claire Hamilton stated, as she had at the July meeting of the Advisory Board, that “there are times when tethering an animal is in the best interest of the animal.”
The Animal Control Advisory Board is scheduled to review enforcement of the existing ordinance before turning to the issues of tethering and hoarding.
Board member Fosgate made a strong argument against tethering of dogs at the meeting in July, but she received no support from other Board members and a strong rebuke from Board member Claire Hamilton.
Of course Animal Services needs a new facility. Trying to fix the wreck, built in a flood-wash, currently present is just plain silly.
That said, a $3 million Taj Mahal might be a bit extreme.
Service for the county's animals has become quite the issue.
We can't wait for something really expensive to repair or replace, after several years of diverting all attention to the subterranean dealings along the north strip of the county.
Parks and recreation, anyone? How 'bout a few more new schools?
Let'sGoOconee (I left out the extra O). It appears to me if someone does not agree with your opinion they have got to be bad and unsupportive. Well personally, I think we have some pretty fanatical individuals at the the renamed animal shelter. They want to take away a pet owners rights and are attempting to have the county build a 2.9 million dollar SHELTER for stray animals. You are correct the county is more and more like Gwinnett not the rural county we want it to remain.
Let'sGoOoconee I agree totally with you. Claire does NOT need to reappointed ever!!!
They need to REPLACE Claire with someone who LOVES animals and who does NOT make money off selling & showing pure breeds.
Dissenting opinions are needed to spur debate. I don't pretend to know it all...unlike Melvin Davis. If you got a take, bring it, and push myself & others to consider possibilities not brought up before. However, not sure anyone can defend the more and more fast food restaurants, electronic billboards, spot zoning, etc. that is turning Oconee into Gwinnett.
I do know we have some fantastic animal shelter volunteers and employees. Have seen firsthand their dedication and how hard they work performing the least glamorous tasks and duties possible.
The staff wants to have tools to combat hoarding, puppy mills and tethering...how are those controversial?
Does the county need a $3 mil animal shelter? Maybe not. Does the county need a new facility not in a flood plane and that can handle the county's forecasted growth? Yes it does. Does it need board members who are somewhat supportive of staff and volunteers? Yes it does.
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