The former animal control officer was terminated April 6 after a visit from the state veterinarian's office revealed the officer was not following rules for euthanizing unwanted animals in a gas box.
About two weeks prior to his termination, the assistant animal control officer had submitted his resignation, and the board had already advertised for a replacement to fill that position. When the remaining officer was terminated, County Administrator Dane Poe said he was hopeful an officer could be hired quickly from the applicant pool.
The animal shelter stopped accepting new animals, and county staff provided daily cleaning and feeding for animals already at the facility.
During the board's regular April meeting on Tuesday, Elizabeth Catron of the Lee Animal League lodged complaints to supervisors about the worker at the shelter. Poe explained that the worker was provided by the Experience Works program, and she had been suddenly placed in a difficult job. The administrator encouraged the league members to be patient and to work with the woman until the situation can be resolved.
Meanwhile, Catron explained that other league members have constraints on the time they can offer to keep the shelter operating, but she offered to volunteer as much as she can. Board members suggested that the league submit a written proposal on what services they can provide at the animal shelter, and they will be glad to work with the group to implement what they can.
Poe warned, however, that the county is required by state law to provide an animal shelter and to meet certain requirements and standards. Poe said this involves legal issues that come with certain liabilities for the county and encouraged both supervisors and the league to consider those when making and approving a proposal.
Supervisors then turned their attention to the situation at the animal shelter and formally accepted the resignation of the assistant animal control officer and voted to support the termination by Poe and Sheriff Gary Parsons - who supervised the animal control staff - of the animal control officer.
Poe said the deadline for submission of applications for the positions has passed, and 32 were received. Supervisors agreed that each board member could pick up to three candidates from the applicants for interviews and then scheduled those interviews to begin at 4 p.m. Monday. Poe said Wednesday that board members are now discussing whether to begin the interviews earlier in the day.
As for when the hiring will be done, Poe said, "they are aware that it is critical that we get someone on board as quickly as possible. They may want to hire as quickly as they can get someone to work."
In other matters, supervisors approved a rezoning request to allow the operation of a welding shop off Route 741 in Ewing and approved an amendment to the Tax Relief for Elderly and Disabled Ordinance that will provide for an increase in the income brackets, total relief available and the filing deadline for tax relief applications.
Supervisors also heard the quarterly update on Mountain Empire Community College, heard various departmental reports, approved a resolution for affiliation with the Keep America Beautiful program, and scheduled a Great American Clean Up Day for April 28 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Joyce Williams was appointed to the county Planning Commission, and supervisors approved the final pay request for the new social services building, accepted a Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, and authorized the sheriff's department to use federal forfeiture funds to purchase four used four-wheel-drive vehicles to be used for plainclothes officers and for patrol during emergencies and severe weather.
The board rejected a request from Rockbridge County to seek a state fuel tax increase, authorized Poe and County Attorney Rick Callahan to execute the necessary documents to obtain interim funding for renovations to the first floor of the courthouse, approved a resolution agreeing to participate in a regional water supply plan, and endorsed a plan by Handicaps Unlimited to seek grant funding for opening a Lee County office.
The meeting was then recessed until Monday, at which time Poe said other business could be addressed in addition to the interviews.