The Herald News

Posted July 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Two issues not even on the agenda took up the most time at last week’s Edmonton City Council meeting.

At the close of regular business, Councilman Wayne Wilson suddenly made a motion for a resolution that following the term of present Edmonton Volunteer Fire Chief Jerry Clemmons, only a city resident could serve as chief. “I don’t have anything against Jerry,” Wilson said, “but I just feel like the next fire chief should live in the city limits.” The next election is in March 2014.

The motion sparked some tense moments.

City Attorney Barry Gilley was asked about any KRS statutes pertaining to fire departments. He responded that if the EVFD is organized under Chapter 95 the city has authority over it. If Chapter 75, the fire department must have a Board of Trustees with oversight. Clemmons said they do have a board.

Mayor Howard Garrett expressed the opinion that since the city owns the fire station and funds the building maintenance and fire equipment, the city should have some control. He pointed out that the 2013-14 city budget allots more than $74,000 to the fire department, more than half of that for payment of the ladder truck that was purchased a few years ago.

In response to a question from Teresa Hamlett on how elections for the chief are conducted, Clemmons said that nominations are made and then they vote. The one with the most votes is elected chief. The county chief (Troy Clemmons) serves as deputy chief for the city fire department.

Clemmons didn’t appear to understand why his residency was at issue. “We do our job when we’re called,” he said, “no matter what time day or night, whether city or county.”

After further discussion, Mayor Garrett asked for a vote on Wilson’s motion. Cathy Nunn and Teresa Hamlett voted no because they want more information; Wilson and Danny Poynter voted yes and Curt Estes and Billy Jeffries abstained. The mayor informed them that an abstention is considered a yes vote so the motion was approved. Attorney Gilley was instructed to draft an ordinance that all future fire chiefs must reside within the city limits.

Shirley Street resident Suzie Werner joined her voice to those of earlier residents in calling for a leash law within the city.

In a written statement she read to the council, Werner said that her “neighbor’s three dogs use my front yard as a playground and the back yard as a toilet.”

But her dog problem goes much further as she has been threatened with barred teeth and even bitten by one of these dogs while in her own yard, at her car and her own front door.

When she requested that the owner control or confine his dogs she was told by him to put up a fence to keep the dogs out. “Why should I do it?” she asked. “Those are his dogs.”

Werner has called the police and spoken to the county attorney. “Humans are not allowed to trespass on people’s property,” she said. “Dogs shouldn’t be allowed to trespass.” She said that a city ordinance was a matter of public safety. The city could be sued if there was a dog related tragedy.

At the end of her statement, Mayor Garrett asked if anyone wanted to respond to Werner. Finally, Billy Jeffries said he understands her concerns, “but I really don’t know what we can do.”

As happened last time this issue was raised, Attorney Gilley told Werner that her only recourse would be to take legal action. If the dog is determined to be vicious by a court of law the owner would be required to confine it behind a fence at least six feet tall with a roof.

Mayor Garrett asked again whether the council wanted to take any action on the ordinance. There was no response and the meeting was adjourned.