Whitehalls proposed pit bull ban still bone of contention

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The fur continued to fly at the April 1 Whitehall City Council meeting, as proposed legislation to ban pit bulls brought out 30 area residents on both sides of the issue.  

Whitehall resident Tim Harrison said he believes it infringes upon the rights of people to own the animals.

"Ninety percent of most animals are good. It’s the five percent you hear about in the media on TV news.  People can take the time to train their animals and themselves.  You will always have animals that will bite for some reason.  We already have laws saying it’s the owner’s responsibility," Harrison said.

Denise Roberge summed it up with  "Blame the deed, not the breed."   

Others repeatedly made pleas with council to return an animal control officer to the city, questioning how a ban can be enforced if there is no dog warden.

John Bushby, who lives on Beaver Avenue, said there are five pit bulls on his street. He is also a real estate assessor, and has been confronted by the animals.  He suggested sterilizing the breed until they are extinct.  

However, his grandson, Ryan Bushby, a Whitehall Yearling High School freshman, said, "I don’t think we should get rid of pits, because they were created by God, but I do support the ban."  

Betsy Isaac resides on Maplewood Road, and witnessed her dog in a gruesome attack by a pit bull as they were taking a walk on a public sidewalk.  

She said that even though it was a frightening experience, she doesn’t think banning pit bulls is the answer.  She wants to see an animal control officer back in the city, and current vicious dog laws enforced.  

"It doesn’t make any difference if you don’t have enforcement," noted Isaac.

In other business, City Council heard a presentation by Whitehall Schools Superintendent Judy Dobbert-Meloy and Treasurer Tim Penton explaining the process of working with the Ohio School Facilities Commission regarding the possibility of new schools in Whitehall’s future.  

She said that the feedback from the community about a possible bond issue has been 92 percent positive.

The facilities commission has completed two in-depth assessments of all school buildings, and determined that each one would cost two-thirds or more to renovate than replace.  

The commission has recommended rebuilding, which could mean five new buildings, or possibly three.  That would be determined later if approved by the community members.  

The project would cost about $65 million, and through a bond levy, the residents would pick up 38 percent of the cost.  

The school board must give an answer on proceeding to the OSFC by June 1.  

Dobbert-Meloy said that there will be a community forum May 14, and a special school board meeting May 22 for the members to decide whether to place a bond issue on the ballot.

In other news:

•Service Director Ray Ogden announced that resurfacing of Etna Road from Hamilton Road to Country Club is tentatively scheduled to begin April 28, and will be a three-day project.  

Curb and gutter replacement on Seigman is tentatively scheduled to begin April 14, and should be about a four-week project.  There will be a public input meeting on April 10 at 7 p.m. in council chambers for people living on that street.  

Beechwood School is also getting new traffic signals.  Ogden also said that there will be a hearing in Environmental Court regarding the status of Swim Land on April 7.

•Safety Director Phil Allen reported there are four good police candidates, three men and one woman. After the testing and training process, he is hoping Whitehall will have four new officers in the coming months.  There are also plans to hire more firefighters.

•Council adopted four resolutions to allow the mayor to accept grant money from Wal-Mart that will benefit the senior center, as well as the police, fire and service departments.  They approved a new full- time position to manage the city’s growing technology needs.  The salary will range between $45,000 and $65,000 a year.  

 

There will be a public hearing on May 6 on a request to allow a special permit for a drive-through at the future Tim Horton’s to be located at 3965 E. Broad Street.

The next council meeting will be April 15 at 7 p.m.

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