Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby shawn_oneil » Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:55 am

http://www.unionleader.com/article/2013 ... 4/0/SEARCH

Danville: Voters debate animal control contract
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By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
DANVILLE - Selectmen at Saturday's deliberative session defended a proposed warrant article aimed at keeping its regional contract for animal control services with the town of Plaistow.

The article came under fire from resident Sheila Johannesen, the town's former animal control officer who held the position until 2011 when selectmen didn't reappoint her and chose to sign a contract with the Plaistow Police Department to have its animal control officer handle Danville's calls at an hourly rate.

Voters last March OK'd a warrant article pitched by Johannesen to make the position elected beginning this March, but selectmen have proposed an article to rescind last year's vote. Voters in March will elect an animal control officer to serve in the position until next year, but if the selectmen's proposal is approved at the polls March 12, the position will be eliminated next year and the contract with Plaistow will resume.

Selectman Shawn O'Neil, board chairman, said the budget for animal control services has dropped from nearly $12,000 when Johannesen held the position to about $4,500 proposed in this year's budget.

"Our budget has gone down considerably," he told the 50 voters at Saturday's deliberative session, adding that under the Plaistow contract the town pays $21 an hour when the animal control officer is called but doesn't have to maintain vehicles, insurance, and other overhead associated with the job. He said the Plaistow animals control officer is also a certified police officer, which means he has more authority when it comes to handling calls.

But Johannesen claims some calls aren't being answered under the regional contract. She said she has received calls and visits from people who found lost dogs and were looking for her help because they couldn't reach the Plaistow animal control officer.

"You're not getting calls answered by the regional ACO," she said.

While he praised Johannesen for knowing the dogs in town "like many of the people who live here know neighbors," Police Chief Wade Parsons said he's been happy with the regional control.

"It's a cost effective program and it seems to be working every good," he said. "It's definitely costing us a lot less than what we had before."

Meanwhile, the town's proposed $2.8 million budget and other warrant articles were moved to the town warrant with no significant changes.
Shawn O'Neil


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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby Sheila » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:06 pm

http://www.eagletribune.com/newhampshir ... ces-in-N-H

Canidates file for town,school offices in NH
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby shawn_oneil » Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:37 pm

http://www.unionleader.com/article/2013 ... 1/0/SEARCH

Animal control debate intensifies between Danville, Plaistow officials
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By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent

DANVILLE - Plaistow Police Chief Steve Savage is taking issue with accusations made by a former Danville animal control officer who claims Plaistow's regional officer hasn't responded to some calls in Danville.

Sheila Johannesen told Danville voters at last month's deliberative session that some calls aren't being answered by the Plaistow animal control officer, who now serves Danville through a regional contract. She insists she's heard from people who found lost dogs and were looking for her help but couldn't reach the Plaistow officer.

Now Savage wants to see some proof.

"If she has some information that we're not providing an adequate service I'd like to know about it. If she can't give me specifics, I'm going to assume where it came from is dubious," Savage said. "If she wants to sell this off to the people of Danville, that's not the way."

Johannesen's comments came amid controversy over the future of animal control services in Danville.

She served as Danville's animal control officer until 2011, when she wasn't reappointed. Selectmen decided to ink a deal with the Plaistow Police Department to have its animal control officer handle Danville's calls at an hourly rate.

But voters last year approved a warrant article spearheaded by Johannesen to make the position elected beginning this March. Johannesen wants the job back and is now running for the position, but selectmen have proposed a new warrant article to be voted on March 12 that would rescind last year's vote, allowing the town to keep its contract with Plaistow.

No matter what happens, Danville voters must elect an ACO to fill the position for the next year. If they rescind last year's vote in order to keep the Plaistow contract, the contract will go back into effect after next March.

Since signing the contract with Plaistow, Selectman Shawn O'Neil, board chairman, has said the town's costs for animal control have dropped from nearly $12,000 when Johannesen held the position to about $4,500 proposed in this year's budget.

Meanwhile, Johannesen has taken legal action in Rockingham County Superior Court to gain access to various town records related to animal control services in Danville.

She filed a petition for injunctive relief last week after claiming the town has not yet handed over all of the information she requested under the state's right-to-know law in a timely manner.

Among the documents she's seeking are records of animal-related calls for services responded to by a Danville officer or Plaistow's regional ACO; records of dog licensing, tickets, fines and court cases; and time spent on those tickets, fines and the issuance of summonses.

She said she wrote a formal request to the Danville Police Department on Jan. 15 seeking time cards, accounting information and other documents.

The request was forwarded to selectmen, who told Johannesen on Jan. 22 that a decision to provide the records would be made by Feb. 19. She then contacted the selectmen's clerk and asked that information be provided as it became available rather than wait until it was all compiled.

Selectmen approved her request and informed her that all of the information would be available by March 15.

In her petition, Johannesen said she felt March 15 was an "unacceptable" deadline as it was after the town elections to be held March 12.

She warned selectmen that if she didn't receive the information by Feb. 19 she would take action at superior court.
Shawn O'Neil


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