Stray dog action sought in Onalaska

ONALASKA – A dog catchpole, along with a request for action on stray dogs was presented to the Onalaska Police Department during the Onalaska City Council meeting last week.

During the public forum held to start the meeting, Paul Lafferty presented a dog catchpole to Police Chief Ron Gilbert, noting the donation was being offered because his wife, Bonnie, had been bitten on the ankle by a dog at a local facility where she was volunteering. Because the dog had no collar or other identification, there was an immediate question of whether rabies treatment should be administered.

Along with the catchpole donation, Lafferty presented a petition being circulated throughout subdivisions to request action on stray dogs inside the city limits that propose a hazard.

During the regular meeting, librarian Sherry Brecheen presented a scholarship from the Friends of the Onalaska Public Library to Shelby Sliger. The winner had applied for the scholarship at the beginning of the school year and worked as a volunteer throughout the year at the library. Sliger said she plans to attend Sam Houston State University and thanked all the members of the Friends group for this opportunity.

In her regular monthly report, Brecheen reported 1,021 current library users with 9,190 items available for checkout. The library was only open 15 days due to an illness, but 626 patrons checked out 777 books and 212 used the computers. Faxes, copies and finds were most of the income, along with two donations, for a total of $340. Volunteers worked 26.5 hours during the month.

In his report, Gilbert said police made 174 dispatched calls and responded to 1,108 other calls during the month. Officers made 14 felony arrests and 39 misdemeanor arrests, while writing 199 citations and issuing 76 warnings. OPD officers assisted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office 20 times during the month, logging 7,321 miles, opening 74 new cases, 19 of which were either DWI or narcotics related. Reserve officers worked a total of three days, putting in 24 hours total. Gilbert noted the reserves do not write tickets, leaving that up to regular officers so reserves do not have to make a special trip to attend court.

Onalaska Fire Chief Jay Stutts reported the volunteers made 57 calls in May, of which, 44 were medically related. They assisted other departments five times, made three lake rescues, handled one hazmat event, worked one motor vehicle accident, and responded to three structure fires. The actual breakdown was 24 calls in the county for 32 man-hours. There were 29 calls in the city for a total of 23 man-hours. One of the mutual aid calls was in response to the recent fire at the Corrigan-Camden ISD shop building.

Building inspector and fire marshal Lee Parrish reported eight permits and three certificates of occupancy were issued in May, including six for storage buildings, one for a commercial remodel and one for a new home. This resulted in a total of $748 in fees and an increase in value to the city of $154,153. His code enforcement work issued 16 warnings, with four already completed and now in compliance, with four more that are in the process of meeting compliance. As fire marshal, he conducted one investigation, which was a fire from electric short, due to a dog chewing on a cord. Very little damage resulted from the fire and the structure was still inhabitable.

In the library board meeting report, chairman Lew Vail asked council to approve the new policies document that was on the agenda for that night, survey results are still coming in from the May posting and they will continue until the end of June. He wanted everyone to know that the summer reading program registration has begun. The reading program events will be on Thursdays at the park pavilion at 4:30 p.m. It is free and everyone is welcomed to come out and learn about sports and fitness at the lake.

Counsel accepted the resignations of officer Thomas Moye, who is joining a school police department, and Officer David Lima, who is going into private business with his family. It was noted that both served honorably and will be eligible for rehire should they ever request such. Council then approved the hiring of David Hernandez to serve as a full-time police officer with the standard six-month probationary period.  Hernandez had been sworn in earlier, so council solidified that appointment.

Mayor Roy Newport announced that there has been a large interest recently in people thinking about building cabins to rent to the public on the property that they own inside the city limits. “The city has never had a cabin ordinance, because we never had a need for one,” Newport said. He gave council a proposed document, asked them to study it, and to be ready for recommendations at the July meeting.

Under announcements, Parrish said he would give the park pavilion’s usage schedule to the city’s website manager to post so all would know it’s availability. Newport asked for everyone to continue collecting funds to defray the cost of the annual fireworks show and remember to bring children down to enjoy the fishing contest and win prizes. Newport is working on a tribute to veterans during the performance.