Posted on

‘Dog Gone’ program moves forward

Harrison County Animal Control’s Operation ‘Dog Gone’ has moved into the ‘execute’ phase after Bruce LaHue, animal control officer, relayed to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday night that he narrowed the list of candidates to three to fill the part-time animal control warden positions.
Originally, LaHue thought only two part-time people would be needed, but, with 28 hours per week at his disposal, he thought it was best to hire three.
‘We’ll need three,’ he said. ‘It will give us the coverage we were looking for.’
The three people hired were Nathaniel (Nathan) McClure, Matthew Miller and Monica Hensley.
McClure has worked as a kennel technician with animal control for more than 2-1/2 years.
Miller is a former member of the USAF Reserves and Air National Guard and previously worked as a reserve officer for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. under Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick. LaHue said Miller resigned from the position under Deatrick for reasons unrelated to performance.
The third animal control warden hired was Monica Hensley. LaHue said Hensley, who has a home health care background, has a situational awareness needed for the job. She also has been around animals all of her life, he said.
The Operation Dog Gone program, funded out of riverboat monies for $95,000, will help shore up the inadequate resources and abilities to keep up with the public’s needs and, most importantly, help eliminate dangers to the public, LaHue said.
‘I am the only animal control officer for the entire county and have been required to work 60-to-70-hour weeks for the past four years just to keep us all out of the headlines,’ LaHue said in the letter to the county council in October.
The program will give animal control 16 hours of coverage per weekday and eight hours on weekends and holidays.
County government officials approved the program for 2013 only in hopes of making up significant ground in the pet overpopulation battle. It was narrowly approved by the county council with a 4-3 vote last fall with Councilmen Ralph Sherman, Gordon Pendleton and Phil Smith against. Council Chair Gary Davis, Councilmen Richard Gerdon and Jim Heitkemper and former Councilman Chris Timberlake voted in favor.
LaHue also replaced two kennel technicians by hiring Christina L. Schwartz and Deborah Roundenbush.
Another aspect of the ‘Dog Gone’ funding is the production of a flyer to be sent to all residents in the county. Councilman Phil Smith said he’d work with LaHue to move forward with getting the flyer produced.
‘We want to make this successful,’ Smith said.
In a related matter, LaHue said he received a letter about the closure of the Buck Creek Valley Animal Rescue facility and county-owned horses boarded there.
‘To my knowledge, we have no animals there,’ LaHue told the commissioners.
The county signed over a number of abandoned horses last year to the rescue group.
The board of commissioners agreed to have legal counsel Chris Byrd send a letter to the firm representing Buck Creek to notify them that the county has no obligation to any of the animals at the rescue.
‘I agree with you, that was all settled last year,’ Commissioner George Ethridge said.
In other business, the board agreed to fund a grant match of $91,200 for Harrison County Emergency Medical Services through the fire chiefs’ association.
Gary Kleeman, EMS director, said the county’s heart monitors are no longer manufactured due to a buy-out.
‘This has made getting parts a growing problem and major repair unavailable,’ Kleeman said.
The grant, if approved, is worth more than $456,000. It includes 10 Zoll X Series heart monitors and 25 Zoll AEDs for the fire departments.
Kleeman said they may not know if the grant is successful until May 2014.
‘If not, we’ll be back knocking on your door asking for the full amount,’ he said.
The county has 10 heart monitors.
‘Because we’re unable to get parts, we don’t want to end up in a critical situation in a year or two,’ Kleeman said.
Sheriff Rod (Rodney) Seelye requested $180,000 out of riverboat gaming funds for six new, fully equipped vehicles.
Ethridge said he thought the price was quite low.
Seelye said the previous commissioners allocated $43,000 per vehicle, but he was able to get them for significantly less.
‘That’s admirable,’ Ethridge said.
Seelye also requested $9,200 for 30 bunks for inmates. The council approved $12,000 last year but the money was never spent. The jail has 15 to 25 inmates sleeping on the floor due to lack of beds, Seelye said.
Other requests from Seelye included $20,000 for ammunition and $7,000 for firearms, both requested out of the firearms training fund, which is funded by gun permits. Seelye said the department plans to stockpile ammunition because it is difficult to purchase bullets right now.
The board, at the recommendation of county engineer Kevin Russel, moved to make a four-way stop at the intersection of Heth-Washington and Ripperdan Valley roads because of safety concerns.
Also in the engineer’s report, Russel said Lopp Circle Road will be closed to through-traffic due to safety concern because of unstable slopes along the sand pit. Only local traffic will be allowed on the road.
The new bridge project on Buck Creek Valley Road, initiated by previous Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes, was canceled by Commissioner Kenny Saulman, who said that neither property owner surrounding the area wants the bridge.
The commissioners’ next meeting will be Monday, April 1, at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.