03/08/07 — Duplin commission takes up animal control laws

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Duplin commission takes up animal control laws

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 8, 2007 1:49 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Stray cats and dogs might not be running wild in Duplin County, but that doesn't mean everybody's pleased with the fact that currently, there are no animal control laws on the books.

The county does have a shelter and three staff members responsible for animal control, but County Manager Mike Aldridge said, there is no formal ordinance.

But after a presentation by Duplin County Humane Society President Kenneth Rau at the board of commissioners meeting Monday, that might soon change.

"This is an ordinance that is perhaps a bit overdue," Rau said.

It was created by the Duplin Animal Advisory Board.

Its key elements, Rau explained, are comprehensive inoculation, license fees and maybe the most important, pet registration for inclusion in a countywide database.

The rest of the ordinance addressed how the county would deal with strays and abandoned animals, those determined to be diseased or dangerous and exotic animals. It also deals with the need for additional animal control positions and a new shelter.

And, while Aldridge explained that Monday's presentation was simply for informational purposes, he does expect the commissioners to look at the issue again in April.

"Our big concern about it is biting off more than we can chew," Aldridge said. "But the commissioners want to be supportive, and they want to do what the humane society is suggesting with this ordinance."

The commissioners weren't so supportive, though, of a request for money from the Duplin Partnership for Health, splitting the vote three to three, denying the non-profit agency a $5,000 match for a $10,000 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation.

The grant, which would have been renewable for up to three years, would have helped pay for a part-time position to help implement and oversee new equipment and programs for adults and children at the walking trail at the Duplin Commons and at Cabin Lake Park.

The group had already received a $60,000 grant from the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund to implement the new equipment and programs.

Rhonda Ferrell, director of the organization, said the group was only asking for a one-time allocation and that they would use donations and fundraisers to meet the local match in the future.

"We're looking at helping make our population healthier," Ms. Ferrell said. "They want to see some commitment from the county, but they've pretty much said that if we get the match, they'll give us the money. We have not come to the board and gotten any money at all (before)."

Fussell, Turner and Raynor voted against the funding, saying they didn't want to spend anymore out of the fund balance this year -- even as Aldridge said it might be possible to find the money elsewhere in the budget.

"This is a very worthy project," Fussell said. "Unfortunately, we have spent so much money that we don't have $5,000. This is just adding another $5,000 on the backs of taxpayers that was not budgeted."

Commissioners L.S. Guy, Reginald Wells and Zettie Williams voted in favor of the allocation.

"I think this is an investment in the present and the future health of our county," Wells said. "I think this is a way the county could give back to the citizens. Everybody's not privileged to have facilities to go exercise.

"I think we have done the people in our county a disservice by not investing $5,000. We just said no to better health in our county."

But other votes by the commissioners were less contentious as they offered unanimous support, but no financial backing, for two other projects -- the restoration of Bradshaw Mill Pond and the establishment of a North Carolina Military History Research Center in Warsaw.

The Samuel Bradshaw Mill Pond restoration was an issue brought up at the last meeting by commission chairman David Fussell. He, however, withdrew his motion after it was determined that it was improper for him to ask the board's support for a project that could benefit him financially.

On Monday, the matter was brought back before the commissioners by fellow landowner George Bradshaw.

The pond, which is on Indian Creek east of Rose Hill, was constructed as part of a grist mill in 1850 and was operated until the early part of the 20th century. The plan, Bradshaw explained, is to have some of the original mill stones returned to the site and the pond restored for use as a tourist attraction and farm irrigation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must give final approval for the project.

The North Carolina Military History Research Center is the brainchild of Kenneth Newbold.

He explained that he envisions the project being a database of all North Carolina military veterans.

A movement is already under way in the General Assembly, sponsored by state Sen. Charlie Albertson, D-Duplin, to appropriate $300,000 for the project.