Wednesday, August 24, 2011


A couple of days ago, the SCPR wrote a blog that criticized operations at the Stark County Dog Pound (Pound).

The Report has been following this story for well over a year.  It goes back to early 2010 when commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) saw fit to fire the then dog warden Evert Gibson for his failure to effectively manage the Pound.

Ever since, his successor, Reagan Tetreault (former dog warden in Holmes County) has been on sort of a honeymoon with the Stark County dog lover community epitomized by the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB).

Along the way to this week, the SCPR has asked the commissioners and others periodically how Tetreault was doing in mastering the employee staff at the Pound.  Answer?  Pretty much a shrug of the shoulders.

Well, on August 5th "all Hell broke loose" with the filing of a complaint by SCDPAB President Nanci Miller filing a complaint with the Canton Health Department (CHD) alleging that Tetreault was not dealing effectively with a mouse infestation problem at the Pound.

To her immense credit, CHD employee Maria Hall got right to it and went out to the Pound on August 8th to do an investigation.  She found out that Miller was correct and ordered immediate (not later than August 17) remediation.  On Monday of this week, Hall emailed the SCPR indicating that satisfactory progress had been made in resolving the problem.

Last Thursday, the SCPR paid a visit to the monthly meeting of the SCDPAB.

As it turns out, the mouse infestation was just one of many problems that advisory board members articulated during their session which, by the way, is open to the public and which, by the way, the commissioners were invited to attend - but declined.

To catch up, CLICK HERE to link with the blog which provides chapter and verse of all the problems plaguing the Pound.

The SCDPAB (as of Thursday's meeting - but unconfirmed) was under the impression that the commissioners would be holding a work session on their grievances.  Monday came (the SCPR was present at the work session), but no meeting on the advisory board issues.

However, yesterday was a different story!

Tetreault came armed with a full blown plan to resolve all the outstanding issues of the Pound contingent on the commissioners passing a dog license fee and kennel operation fee increases.

Based on discussions which commissioners had yesterday, it appears to the SCPR that some sort of increase will be passed today.  Most likely, the dog license fee will go from $12 to $16 and the kennel fee from $60 to $80 in 2012.

The SCPR does not believe the action would have been forthcoming (at least, not for now with the 1/2% sales tax issue on the ballot in November), had it not been for the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board.

When The Report asked Tetreault after the meeting whether or not she had read a report on Pound deficiencies put together by Judith King (a member of the SCDPAB), she answered that she had merely scanned the report and that she had no comment on it.

Judge for yourself by viewing the video below, but the SCPR's take on Tetreault's attitude was one of curtness and obvious annoyance at the questions.  Hardly, what one should get from a public employee.

Last year, The Report believed that public employee Tetreault blew off yours truly in a quest to contact her by telephone to request a video of alleged dog abuse at the Pound.   Yours truly thinks it was only at the intervention of Stark County Chief Administrator Mike Hanke that she eventually returned the call.

As readers of the SCPR know, The Report has been impressed with the new regime of commissioners (Bernabei and Creighton) since they took office in November, 2010 and January, 2011; respectively.

They brought with them an "apparent" commitment to increased accessibility, accountability, transparency and a determination to go out into the Stark County community to connect with Stark Countians.

At first blush, they seemed to deliver on their promise.  But, of late, the SCPR is beginning to believe that their enthusiasm has ebbed especially on the matter of transparency.  And The Report thinks that their handling of the Pound situation, perhaps, is the best example of what yours truly is talking about.

However, there are others.

One that comes to mind is the bond situation and Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler.  Earlier in August they were supposed to have a representative from Sirack-Moore (the county's insurance agency) to explain to the Stark County public what the holdup is on the need to acquire a $500,000 bond before Zeigler can once again become a full-fledged treasurer.  But the meeting was abruptly cancelled.

The Report keeps asking commissioners and Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Ross Rhodes when Sirack-Moore will have an answer,  but still can get no answer.

From being impressed with the commissioners and their commitment to more democratic processes, the SCPR is in "a reserve judgment mode."

The Report asked Commissioner Creighton yesterday about the SCDPAB report directed to the commissioners.   She had read the report, but had no comment.  Accountability, transparency?  Here is the video of the Q&A between The Report and Creighton.

One of the things that the SCPR has heard frequently from commissioners is how little authority they have.  And it is so.  For the most part they have to deal with more or less autonomous elected office holders.  In the case of the Veterans Service Commission, commissioners cannot even curtail the amount of appropriation that the agency can demand (up to about $3.2 million)

But dealing with the Stark County Dog Pound is "a different kettle of fish."  They are in charge (witness the firing of Evert Gibson).   

It was refreshing yesterday to see Tetreault come in with a plan to rectify the problems at the Pound.

While nobody said anything, The Report believes that the commissioners (likely through Hanke) much have knuckled down on Tetreault.

Below is a video that endeavors to show Stark Countians the outline of the dog warden's plan to "finally" get the Stark County Dog Pound to operating the way it ought to.

Of course, "the proof is in the pudding."  We shall see (accountability?) over the next year how Dog Warden Tetreault and the commissioners are doing in getting the Pound in first-class operating order.

With the new money, it should not be a problem!

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