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PANA – Following a discussion over the City of Pana’s Animal Control Ordinance, members decided to send the current ordinance to the Community Safety Committee for review. The recommendation came during Monday’s regular session held in Pana City Hall.
During the citizen’s access to speak before the Council Juletta Ellis spoke about several incidents dating back to 2019 where a neighborhood pit bull had invaded her fami- ly’s yard and on two occasions, had attacked their family dog. She said their yard has an “invisible fence,” which keeps their pets inside the yard.
The most recent incident, she said, happened last month on Father’s Day where the dog, running loose, attacked the Ellis’ dog once again in their yard and then turned on Mrs. Ellis, biting her, causing her to seek emergency room treatment. Their dog also had to be treated by a veterinarian.
Under the city’s new Animal Control Ordinance, which was passed almost two years ago, the Chief of Police is in charge of holding a public hearing to determine the dog’s fate. Recently, Chief Daniel Bland determined the dog to be “vicious,” meaning it is to be muzzled and on a leash at all time. If not, the dog can be confiscated. He said there wasn’t enough documentation on earlier attacks and they had occurred in 2019, prior to the passage of the new ordi- nance.
“Every child should feel safe in their yard,” Mrs. Ellis said. “If this keeps up, someone is going to be seriously hurt, maimed or perhaps killed.
This (ordinance) needs to be reviewed and addressed for public safety.”
City Attorney Steve Mahrt said the new ordinance is a lot better than the old ordinance with setting up the public hearing aspect to determine where the dog is vicious and sets up procedures where the dog can be euthanized if needed.
“At one time, we’d have to go before a judge and prove the psychological intent of the dog,” Mahrt said. “Pets are considered property and you can’t take away someone’s property without due process.”
Prior to Mrs. Ellis’ presentation, Fourth Ward Alderman Kent Sims brought up the topic of hiring a dog catcher. He said there has been a sizable increase in complaints of dogs running loose in town.
The job of dog catcher is currently being handled by the police department. And since the last part-time dog catcher, Shawn Hocq, was hired as a police officer, the position has been vacant.
When asked who is handling dog complaints, Chief Bland responded, “I am. I’ve been doing it since January.”
Bland said he would continue to do the job, but there needs to be someone who can go out on these dog complaints.
“There are times when our officers are working other cases and can’t get away to handle those calls,” Bland said. “We get at least one call every other day about vicious dogs. I will continue to answer those calls because I’m not going to allow it to happen.”
Whether a dog catcher can be hired is also a subject of concern. Fourth Ward Alderman Kirk Woods said he doesn’t think there is a line in the Fiscal Year budget to pay for the position.
Woods also announced the city has reached a tentative agreement with the city’s AFSCME union general services employees. He said they are awaiting approval by the union of the contract. No details were announced.
A pay request for work at the city’s spillway, intake tower and water treatment plant was approved. Payment approved was for over $161,000. Ben Spreen of Benton and Associates who is over-seeing the work, said the work at the intake tower is almost complete.
They are currently testing the new tower and soon he expects the new intake to become functional.
Triple A Asbestos Services was awarded two contracts to remove asbestos at two locations – 13 and 15 S. Locust St. The asbestos must be removed before the buildings are razed. Cost for the 13 S. Locust building is $2,55 and for 15 S. Locust, $4,880.
The Council declined to apply for an OSLAD (Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development) Grant. It is a 50-50 matching grant.
Third Ward Alderman Steve Scott pointed out if the city was to receive a $100,000 grant, they would have to come up with $100,000.
“Right now, with our city finance and the other projects were are doing, I don’t know where we could come up with that kind of money, except borrow it,” Scott said.
City Engineer Greg Holthaus said the city needs to develop plans for projects around the city. He said right now, the city gets a grant, then looks for something to spend it on.
“We need a plan in place before we seek these grants,” Holthaus said. “That way, we can start to put aside money for them so when the opportunity for a grant comes up, we’re ready to go. Mayor Nathan Pastor agreed and said, “This should be a priority.”
An ordinance to advertise for bid for city owned property at 102 and 104 W. Orange St. was approved. It authorizes the city clerk to advertise for bids for the property.
First presentation of the city’s appropriation ordinance gained unanimous approval. The appropriation ordinance is required by Illinois law before a municipality can file for its property tax extension.
The meeting adjourned at 8:32 p.m. Next meeting of the Pana City Council is a special session on Monday, July 19, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. to hear a presentation on repairs needed at the city’s waster water treatment plant. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Council is Monday, July 26, 2021, also at 7:00 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Council Chambers of Pana City Hall, 120 E. Third St.