Blue Earth, group working out agreement

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth is tweaking changes to a proposed agreement with Faribault County Humane Society.

Mayor Rick Scholtes says the wording will be fine-tuned, and then the council will bring the agreement back for discussion on July 15.

Scholtes read the changes point by point Monday, with the council and Humane Society members delving into each.

Under the plan, the Humane Society will continue to use the city pound, but the building will be used only “for the housing of animals impounded by the City of Blue Earth and not for the sheltering of Humane Society-owned animals …”

The agreement also states there may be an option for the city to contract with other governmental groups to house their impounded animals.

Staci Thompson of the Humane Society asked that the word “option” be taken out, suggesting the wording is too uncertain.

“We wanted to have the option open. It was to protect both sides,” Scholtes said.

Blue Earth has no agreements in place with the county or other cities, noted City Administrator Kathy Bailey. The wording will probably be changed before July 15, she added.

The agreement also states the adoption of animals must be carried out in keeping with state law regarding dogs and cats. Furthermore, dangerous dogs will not “be fostered out for care or placement for adoption.”

When Thompson objected to not being able to foster out dangerous animals, Scholtes reminded her, “That’s state law.”

Thompson said the animals can be re-evaluated in six months.

“But we’re not going to keep them for six months,” Bailey noted.

Animals can be kept for 10 business days and the city will include weekends and holidays, Scholtes said.

There also was discussion about immediately licensing and vaccinating animals brought in. Owners would have to show an animal had been vaccinated before they could claim their pet. Owners also would have to claim their animals from Blue Earth police officers, not from the Humane Society, according to the agreement.

Few people are getting their pets licensed, Bailey said, and the city wants to change that, for several reasons.

“With a license, [the pet] gets brought back to you,” if it gets away, she said. That means the owner won’t have to pay pound fees, which can get expensive.

Plus, “we know the animal is safe,” said Bailey, noting that rabies vaccinations for humans are expensive.

A new point of the agreement is that all records will be kept by the city of Blue Earth. A monthly accounting and payment for services will be made to the Humane Society for animal care.

The agreement states “All animals in [the Humane Society’s] care shall be confined to the building or fenced-in yard. No animals shall be left in yard without care attendants present. No animal overhead lines for attaching dogs shall be outside of the fenced-in yard.”

One of the reasons the animals cannot be left out is because children who live in nearby apartment complex come over and want to pet them. It’s known as an “attractive nuisance,” according to Dan Lundquist, attorney with Frundt & Johnson.

Thompson objected to not being allowed to use the overhead lines and said dogs being left unsupervised isn’t true.

“We need those lines,” she said, noting that dogs have to be removed for the kennels to be cleaned.

“It would be awesome if we could fence in the yard,” said Debby Johnson of the Humane Society. “It would keep the kids away. And if an animal gets out, you have a second enclosure.”

“Let us look into that,” Scholtes said.

He consulted with Lundquist about how tall the fence might have to be and how it should be designed so hands couldn’t go through.

“We’re trying to get to common ground,” Scholtes said after he had finished reading the entire agreement. “At the end of the day, we’re getting close.”

Turning to local road work, Bailey reported that a number of problems have been reported on the Highway 169 project.

Some drivers are not following the detour and getting in all kinds of trouble.

Northbound traffic is taking one block on Eighth and then one block on Sailor Street. Instead of turning onto County Road 16 and following it to County Road 11 and then over to County Road 44 around the construction, drivers are going straight on Sailor and going through a residential neighborhood, Bailey said. The problem is that Sailor does not go through to County Road 44; it dead-ends at the Blue Earth River.

“A lot of time, they’re semis,” Bailey said. “Some are backing out.”

Councilwoman Chelsey Haase said there is a similar problem on Second Street, where the semi traffic has increased “through the roof.” She said she counted 15 semis Monday morning.

“They look lost, because I’ll see the same ones going back and forth,” Haase said.

The route they should take is 14th Street to Main Street, then north to the fairgrounds road, Bailey said. Instead, they are taking 14th Street and making a quick turn onto Rice Street, going north to the railroad tracks on Second. When they can’t cross there, they turn west onto Second, which takes them to Main Street.

Bailey beseeched drivers to follow the signs, and said some of those residential streets and corners are not meant for semi traffic.

She advised drivers to call the Minnesota Department of Transportation or check its website for the latest updates.

In other business, the council:

o Appointed Jim Ekse to the airport board.

o Authorized a short-term loan for $1.065 million for Blue Earth Light & Water to pay off a number of projects coming due this summer.