McCOOK, Nebraska -- The McCook City Council will receive a claim Monday for $50,000 in damages from the elderly man attacked by two dogs, while walking near the fairgrounds in 2010. The claim comes from attorneys representing Dale Adams and is directed at the City of McCook and Chief of Police, Isaac Brown.
It singles out Brown as the "rabies control authority" due to the several positions he occupies, including Chief Animal Control Officer, Chief Health Officer of the Municipality and others. Negligence is cited on the part of Brown in "failing to apprehend, seize, and quarantine the two dogs in a timely manner so as to permit the observation and examination of the two dogs as required."
The claim goes on to state that the head of one of the dogs was not retained, "so as to prevent the lawfully prescribed rabies tests from being conducted," adding that as a result of the negligence Adams had to undergo the painful rabies vaccination procedure. The claim also cites mental and physical pain and suffering as well as emotional distress, to date and being reasonably certain in the future. "Claimant has had his usual and normal life functions impaired and has developed a fear of attack by dogs and is unable, because of such fear, to engage in his usual practice of taking walks," according to the claim.
Council members are not expected to take action on the item, during their semi-monthly meeting, 7:30 p.m., at Memorial Auditorium, other than to approve its receipt and instruct it be submitted to the city's insurance carrier for review and appropriate action. The claim comes less than a week following City Councilman Shane Hilker's conviction on a city ordinance violation, for having an unrestrained dangerous dog of his own.
Councilman Hilker pleaded no contest, May 10, in Red Willow County Court to the charge and was subsequently sentenced by County Court Judge Anne Paine to a $250 fine.
While the city council made progress in the fall of 2009 by strengthening local dog ordinances, when it raised fine amounts including that of the vicious dog citation from $50 to $500. It was nearly a year later and not until after the attack on Adams, before an offender was charged at the higher fine amount. Jennifer Kallsen, the owner of one of the two dogs that attacked Adams, was the first to receive the increased fine amount when she was sentenced by County Court Judge Anne Paine in July, 2010, to a $500 fine. Several other vicious dog citations were issued and convicted following the increase and prior to Kallsen, including one issued to the second owner involved in the Adams attack, Richard Maris. Maris was convicted of vicious dog four days prior to the attack on Adams and sentenced only to a $20 fine in addition to the animal being ordered destroyed.
Because the attack on Adams happened within a ten-day grace period that Maris was given to euthanize the animal, City Attorney Nate Schneider told the Gazette in a phone interview, "We will be looking at immediate surrender of vicious dogs as a possibility for future cases."
Even though Councilman Hilker was found guilty of violating city ordinance 6-106, which states it would be unlawful for him to own an animal deemed potentially dangerous without a court order, there was no mention of such an order or in regards to surrendering the animal at his sentencing. Councilman Hilker told Paine that he planned to acquire a new harness style collar for the animal so that it could not get loose. The dog is a boxer and chihuahua mix, according to Hilker, and it did not bite anyone during the incident he was cited for. The dog reportedly made two aggressive approaches at an off-duty police officer and his wife, who were out for a walk, leading to the citation.
The application for federal assistance for the wildlife fence at McCook airport will be considered for approval. City Manager Kurt Fritsch told the Gazette, via email Thursday, that opting out of the $1.7 million project was not an option. "By not building the fence, which option we do not have (this is an FAA mandate and safety issue) it jeopardizes our Part 139 requirement allowing us to provide commercial service. They will remove that provision and we will be out of business. That is the answer plain and simple," said Fritsch.
Three public hearings are scheduled during Monday's meeting. The first authorizes an amendment to the purchase agreement between the city and Mid-Plains Community College for a portion of Kelley Park to be used for the events center construction project. The legal description of the property was incorrect in the original version. The second public hearing is focused on approval of the final plat and the third is required for approval of creating a subdivision, both are also for the events center project.
Other items on the consent and regular agenda;
* Approval of the sale of a portion of a city owned lot at 301 E. Second, to August Jones, will be considered for approval. City staff has asked for suspension of the three reading rule in order to meet the buyers timeline on finalizing the purchase.
* Updates and changes to the McCook Code of Ordinances will be presented for their third and final reading required for approval.
* Approval for the mayor to sign the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services contract for congregate meals, home delivered meals and transportation services, as well as the contract with American Medical Response for transportation of DHHS clients will be considered.
* The Telecommunications Site Lease Agreement, between the city and Alltel Communications of Nebraska, dba Verizon Wireless, for the placement of additional equipment on the west water tower will be considered for approval.
* May 15-21, 2011, will be considered for proclamation as Emergency Medical Services Week.
* The17 Ranch Winery, LTD, has requested a special liquor license for a McCook Art Guild fundraiser on June 4.
* MO Dough, LLC, has requested a special liquor license for a reception at Memorial Auditorium on August 27.