Following small outcry, supervisors suggest policy change to allow pets on courthouse lawn

By Rick Morain
Jefferson Herald

Concerns over a 15-year old policy banning pets from the Greene County courthouse lawn has forced the board of supervisors to consider an amendment.

The current policy for the courthouse building and the grounds as well as the Bell Tower prohibits pets on the lawn or inside the buildings, though the regulation has rarely been enforced.
The supervisors, during last week’s meeting, said they’d like to proceed with the plan that’s been in place since 2007.
The news alarmed several residents, who voiced their displeasure with the policy at Monday’s meeting.      

Clancy Clawson and Kristin Lang, both of whom work and live downtown, spoke to the board about the proposed policy section banning all but service animals and law enforcement dogs on the courthouse grounds. They said the problem is with “bad” dog owners, not those who clean up after their pets. They recommended keeping the downtown area welcoming and not creating enforcement problems.
Karen Lawton and Peg Raney addressed the board as well and urged that the new policy create a welcoming environment to reinforce efforts for downtown and community support.

The board, following the public forum, directed Greene County attorney Thomas Laehn to revise the draft policy to allow pets on the grounds but not in the courthouse itself. Laehn recommended including language to limit the county’s exposure to liability, including a requirement that pets be kept on leashes at all times, and said he would look at other outdoor public space policies for suggestions.

Community Bell Tower Foundation president Carole Custer asked questions about the proposed policy’s section on the use of the tower observation deck and collection of fees. Board chair John Muir explained that the board does not have communication problems with the foundation, and that a written policy is necessary. Laehn said that the county and the foundation should have a joint 28E agreement defining and preserving the relationship between the two parties.
County attorney Laehn reviewed with the board an updated draft of the building and grounds policy, which incorporated the changes suggested by the supervisors at the last board meeting. The board indicated there should be a nonrefundable rental fee for the bell tower observation deck, but not for other reservable spaces.    

The board tabled consideration of the policy until updates to the draft are made.    


• The board approved a request from 144 CHI (community housing initiative) for $5,000 per year for the next three years, a total of $15,000. Mary Weaver, Derek Kennedy, Kate Neese, and Alan Robinson made the request.
The 144 CHI group will work to improve the attractiveness and availability of housing in Dana, Grand Junction, Paton, and Rippey. The group had described its intentions and rules at the preceding supervisor meeting.

• Diane Hinderaker of the Boone and Greene County Probation organization proposed a revised contract for probation and community services.
The county’s 2019 agreement for probation services was to cover 20 clients at a total of $8,515 per year. Hinderaker proposed a new agreement for about 100 clients at a cost of $21,134, with a five percent allowable increase for additional expenses.

She also provided a separate budget estimate for a community service program for about 55 clients (25 youths, 30 adults) at a cost of $14,057 for calendar year 2023, but did not have an agreement in hand for the board to consider.
Laehn said the probation program has been a benefit for the county, and added that without a partnership with the organization, community services would not be an option. Laehn recommended that his office review the proposed agreement before the board takes it up, and the board agreed.

• The Greene County Library Association requested funding for fiscal year 2023-24 (beginning next July 1). Their request was for $95,940, an increase from the current year’s $89,540. The new request reflects an 8.7 percent increase of $6,400 to base funding. It also asked for continuation of the $10,000 for cooperative projects and the $1,000 in additional funding to each of the six libraries.
Making the request were Jane Millard, president of the association and Jefferson Library director, Churdan Library director Shari Minnehan, Churdan Library trustee Marsha Subbert, Paton Library director Kimberly Bohnet, Scranton Library director Tammy Ross, Rippey Library director Cara McCoy, Grand Junction Library director Diane Kafer, and Kathryn Whitver and Bailey Mount of the Jefferson Library. Millard reviewed cooperative projects among the county libraries for the current cooperative funding of $10,000.
The board took no action on the proposal.

• Greene County Fair Association secretary-treasurer Doug Hawn presented the Fair’s annual report and requested funding of $24,000, the same level as in the past. The board took no action.

• The board approved a credit rating fee of $13,750 to S&P Global for a credit rating for the new communications tower and related equipment borrowing of $3.3 million.

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