The Fennimore Common Council heard concerns of cats on the loose in the Northview Mobile Home Park during a meeting held Monday evening, Oct. 8.
JoAnn Hopper, who lives on Roosevelt Street in the Northview Mobile Home Park, attended the council meeting to express her frustration with two cats belonging to a neighbor.
Hopper told the council she contacted the Fennimore Police Department for the first time regarding two cats allegedly on the loose on Aug. 24, and as recently as Monday.
“The cats have been on my car,” Hopper said. “They have done damage and it will cost about $100 to buff it out.
“They cause a problem because they go into my yard and they go on the other side of my house, where there is an empty lot. I have floor-to-ceiling windows in my kitchen and there have been times I’ve had to physically restrain my dog from barking at the cats in the yard.”
Hopper told the council the two cats in question are pet cats, not strays.
“We have had a lot of discussion in the office the last week or so on this and it goes beyond these two cats,” Mayor Charles Stenner said. “There are a number of stray cats running around up there and people are feeding them, and that is part of the problem.”
Stenner said a letter will be sent to residents of the Northview Mobile Home Park to ask for residents’ help in not feeding the stray cats.
Fennimore Police Chief Rick Kreul told the council stray cats have been an issue in the city in the past.
“Years ago we used to make a very valiant attempt to try to pick them up” he said. “It was never making any dent in the population.
“There is going to be as many of them around as there is food to support them.”
After Kreul was then bitten by a stray cat and was required to undergo rabies tests, he discussed the matter with City Attorney Eileen Brownlee and developed with the police department a different stance regarding stray cats.
“We took the standpoint with strays, if they are not bothering anything, we are not going to make a problem where there is not one,” he said. “We have taken a different stance with something that is an owner that is knowingly allowing their pet to roam freely.
“I think part of what has led to JoAnn’s frustration is there was some confusion certainly amongst the members of the police department exactly what we were dealing with. Were we talking about the stray cats that were roaming the neighborhood or do you have a neighbor who is not being responsible for their own?”
Hopper alleges her neighbor has made no attempt and has made it known she will not keep her cats indoors.
“She knew no one was going to do anything about it,” Hopper said.
Alderperson Gerald Bollant stated Hopper has “done her part” and something needs to be done.
“There has got to be some enforcement here, I say,” he said. “It can’t be let go, they are affecting her and she is a citizen of this town too.”
Stenner told Hopper appropriate action will be taken.
“There will be a letter sent to her telling her there will be no more warnings or anything, if the cats are caught, she will be penalized,” he said. “If we can’t prove they are her cats, the cats will be taken care of, plain and simple.”
Aldperson Greg Fry asked if the city had someone assigned to animal control, a “dog catcher” per se. Stenner replied the city does not.
Kreul said this is the first time he can recall the issue has been a neighbor allowing their cat to run at large.
Bollant, who also lives in the Northview Mobile Home Park, had a friendly disagreement with Stenner regarding the city’s response to the matter.
“We are taking measures, if that doesn’t work, we will have to take stronger measures,” Stenner said.
“I think we are beyond that measure,” Bollant said. “I think we should set traps out and catch them when they are out.
“It has gone too far. To scratch her car it is a $100 bill for her to fix it, I know that.”
Stenner recalled the city suffered a similar stray cat problem in the 1980s. As is the case now, the issue stemmed from citizens feeding the cats.
“I feel bad for JoAnn’s situation going on as long as it has,” Kreul said. “I think part of the issue, like I said, is that there was some misunderstandings about whether it was a stray, or someone’s pet being allowed to run loose.
“I think we can get this addressed, but I am not certain how quickly it is going to take. The limited contact we’ve had with the owner of these cats hasn’t been a whole lot more positive than what I understand JoAnn’s contact with them has been.”
“Are you satisfied with that for now,” Bollant asked Hopper.
“For now,” Hopper replied.
Purchase of signs OK’d
Later in the meeting the council approved the purchase of stop signs that will replace approximately 60 yield signs in the city next year. In addition, four new stop signs will be installed.
A memo from City Clerk Margaret Sprague to the council noted the street department schedule would likely not allow for installation of the signs this fall.
Brownlee advised once an ordinance to change the yield signs to stop signs is approved, the signs should be replaced in a timely manner.
Interim Director of Public Works Barry Belstra would prefer to wait until spring to proceed with the proejct.
The total cost for materials related to the project is estimated at $3,600, while labor is estimated at $900 to $1,000.
In other action, the council:
• approved hiring Curt Cole to serve as a school crossing guard. Cole was the only person to apply for the position.
“I sit and watch him in the morning, and I see him when I am going through with my children in the afternoon,” Kreul said. “It looks like he is doing just fine.”
• approved a petition to ask the Grant County Board of Supervisors for aid to improve a highway.
“It is something we do every year,” Stenner said.
The petition asks for $2,000, which would be used to improve 11th Street between Coolidge Street and Adams Street.
• appointed Sprague to serve on the Board of Directors of the Upper Midwest Municipal Power Agency. Sprague will fill the position previously held by former Director of Public Works John Muphy.