Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

What looked to be a short, maybe even boring Pocahontas County Commission meeting November 19, was livened up by an encore presentation by Alice Arbuckle about dog tethering.

At the September 17 meeting, Arbuckle, concerned by the number of “forlorn” dogs she has observed cruelly tethered in the county, asked the commissioners to revise the county dog ordinance using the Kanawha County Animal Cruelty and Canine Tethering Ordinance as a model for those revisions. That meeting was packed with people who were upset by the proposal. At the time, the commissioners agreed to talk with Animal Control Officer Josh Vaughn to see if he needed additional resources to investigate problems.

When Arbuckle re-appeared at the November 19 meeting, she wanted to know what follow-up had been done and brought the commissioners a copy of WV Code Article 8, Section 61-8-19 (H) which makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $300-to-$2,000 and/or six months imprisonment to “cruelly tether or chain an animal.” She said she could not find a definition of “cruelly” in the Code.

Commissioner Walt Hel-mick explained that they had spoken to Vaughn, and he said he had enough resources to enforce both the county ordinance and the state animal cruelty laws, and he responds to all complaints about tethered dogs. Arbuckle said she remains concerned by the many dogs cruelly tethered all over the county and that she has called Animal Control a number of times to report her neighbors, who, in her opinion, keep their dog cruelly tethered outside year-round. But only on one occasion was the dog removed in response to her call, and even then, it was shortly returned.

Once again, the commissioners agreed to look into the matter.

“It’s not just that dog! It’s throughout the county that the dogs are in the same predicament, and now the winter is here!” an emotional and frustrated Arbuckle said, before abruptly leaving the room.

Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation Director Lauren Bennett delivered that entity’s annual update. She said that since Hotel/Motel tax revenues are up, Parks and Rec is doing well and is in a position to make improvements to its facilities. She mentioned that they want to put a bike park and bike playground in at Stillwell Park and that Snowshoe Mountain Resort donated skateboard ramps to Stillwell Park. They are looking at replacing the roofs on pavilions at Cass and Stillwell parks; adding a fitness center and an interpretive trail at Cass; adding toddler play equipment; and maybe hiring a part-time, or possibly a full-time person to supervise at the Wellness Center in Marlinton.

The commissioners said they met with an engineer and representatives of the Public Service District at the East Fork Industrial Park to inspect the proposed easement at that site that the District wants to obtain. The commissioners are satisfied that granting the easement will not cause any issues with future uses of that county property – and may actually help. They approved the proposed deed and agreement with the Public Service District.

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