A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 163

Beware ye mongrel hordes

Right about now there are 1,000 very nervous dogs in Farmington. Last Monday the selectmen issued a warrant to John Fitch, animal control officer (school bus driver, health expert, donut maker, former firefighter and ex-barkeep), to proceed from door to door "to collect all fees" or snatch all unlicensed and uncontrolled dogs. To ensure results, a special budget of $1,500 has been provided to carry out Operation Pooch Pinch.

The scheme works like this. Seven days after capture, unlicensed canines are put up for adoption and from the 14th day, they "may be put to sleep." Now while Farmington Corner is prepared to issue an appeal for hammocks and cots to house these slumbering mutts, it is hard to imagine Fitchy tiptoeing around crooning lullabies in doggy ears. Surely this is just a selectmen's ruse to lure man's best friend into a false sense of security with the old not-dead-just-sleeping wheeze...because in the fine print of this warrant, the dog officer, before July 1, has got to state the number of pets that perish as a consequence of Operation Pooch Pinch.

Of course, that figure could refer to dogs who accidentally O.D. on sleeping tablets, though don't bet on it.

So your next question may be, how does Farmington Corner arrive at the estimate of 1,000 dogs at risk? Statistical analysis, numerical projection and empirical estimate, my dear, Watson.

New Durham, for example, is a community where approximately 2,000 people live. Police Chief Paul Gelinas had 425 dogs registered there in 1989 - a ratio of just under five humans for each pooch. While 350 dogs are signed up this year, 75 more are filed as outlaws on the town computer and are on the posse's calling list, incidentally. (Hint to N.D. readers - pay your dog license now before you get slapped with the additional $15 fine.)

Middleton, where busy Fitchy also roams, has a population of slightly fewer than 1,000 folks - it just seems more at town meeting. In 1989, his Operation Pooch Pinch uncovered 249 dogs and, interestingly, after some pet owners were hit with $25 fines they informed on their neighbors' animals. Hmmm. Anyway, the human-to-dog ratio, at 4:1 is in the same ballpark as New Durham.

Milton, with 3,000 folks has, according to A.C.O. Larry Trask's 1989 efforts, 601 licensed tailwaggers - once again just under five people to every dog. In 1990, though, only 424 Miltonians have bothered to license their pets but Town Clerk Carol Martin says, "Larry will be putting the bite on everyone shortly."

And so back to Farmington, a town of some 5,600 souls. Applying the 4:1 formula, one can quickly realize that this community is home to 1,400 dogs. Yet, in 1989, only 400 were licensed at the Town Hall. Hence there are 1,000 mutts trotting around in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Or, looked at another way, that's 1,000 x $25 in fines waiting to be collected, plus an additional $5,000 for dog license fees should owners chose to stump up the cash and grab their pets from the very jaws of Sleep. We're talking big money here. Next week: Setting up an underground railroad to the Rochester line.

Sparks fly

There is no doubt about it, Ky Goslin is a qualified and competent electrician and has held a state license so long that he retains the low number 174. However, at the last selectmen's meeting, Ky demanded an apology from town building inspector Don Gilbert on the grounds that Don had allegedy alleged he was not an electrician at all.

Don recalled a conversation in his office about electricity but said Ky's name didn't come into it and so no apology was necessary. A witness to the conversation, Steve Beveridge, said Ky's name definitely did come into it, and then he (Steve) went on to discuss five horse phase capacitors, low voltage meter readers, three phase converters and 200 amp entrances.

Selectwoman Barbara Spear said she didn't want to get off the subject (of the apology) but was curious as to what a 200 amp entrance was. During the course of this technical explanation it was revealed that Deputy Fire Chief Joel Plante had also been a party to the Electrical Conversation.

Town administrator John Scruton chipped in and said Joel agreed with Don that Ky had not been mentioned. Steve then made an unprintable comment about Joel, and Selectman Bill Cooper appealed for a cessation to bad language.

Ky said Joel and Don were inspecting properties head to head and therefore one was bound to protect the other. Then the Foster's reporter startled the meeting by accidently activating the office copier, after which Don countered Steve by pointing out Joel and Ky fought Farmington fires side by side. Bill said he assumed Don and Joel were telling the truth but said he would set up a meeting between all parties (Ky, John, Steve, Don and Joel) and, including yet another witness to the Electrical Conversation. Don's secretary, Diane Ficco.

Steve said he was telling the truth and that a thousand witnesses to the contrary would not sway him. Afterwards, in the hallway, he added that he might just rip someone's head off. Electrician Ky told everyone he still wanted an apology.

Highway Department highlights

John Scruton, after the 45-minute discourse on electricians, announced that radioactive material would not be accepted at Farmington landfill. Eat your heart out, Seabrook. John also asked Road Agent Clark Hackett if he could supply a truck to bring one ton of USDA food into town for distribution to needy people, now that Strafford County Community Action Program had apparently withdrawn.

Clarky said he "was not trying to get out of it," but reminded the selectmen that his trucks also hauled sewage and an unprintable substance from the landfill. He was reminded that federal trucks hauled hazardous waste one way and USDA food the other, but somehow sewage seemed worse and Clark got off the hook. Parks and Rec. supremo Zeke Ghareeb then stepped into the breach with an offer to locate a clean truck and bring the government cheese and butter to town. This column's strong support for Road Agent Hackett is completely unconnected to the fact that any month now he may fill in a zillion potholes on River Road spawned by a certain Crevasse.

Parks & Rec. news

The T-ball toilet in Fernald Park was ordered after this season's games had started, and not in time to prevent one youngster receiving a call from Nature, an associated dose of poison ivy and $100 in medical bills, Jeannie Pitz told selectmen. Selectman Biff Silvia, after half an hour of listening to Jeannie and Zeke, said, "It sounds like a disorganized mess to me."

Hay Day is scheduled for Aug. 25 this year, and the 1990 theme, surprisingly does not involving bicycles, hangmen, marigolds, electricians, sleeping dogs, potholes or even stoves and freezers. Unexpectedly, "Circus" has been chosen ... a theme that is an all-embracing stroke of genius.

June 11, 1990

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