Dolores Kipper, Hoisington’s code enforcement officer, provided the city council an update Monday night on her efforts to enforce animal control and property codes in the community since her arrival in September.
A steadily decreasing number of feral cats trapped seemed to indicate the Trap, Neuter and Return program is working. In October, Kipper trapped 39 cats, then 16 in November, seven in December and six in January. Still, she cautioned that kitten season is coming soon, and she anticipates numbers to go up again to reflect this. She continues to set out traps weekly.
A recent reminder was mailed to Hoisington residents in the city bill about the TNR program and information about an upcoming rabies clinic.
The City of Hoisington will be holding its annual rabies clinic at the Hoisington Fire Station on March 12 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. City pet licenses will also be available at the clinic, and need to be purchased by March 31.
Kipper also sent a letter to all employees of the City of Hoisington asking them to lead by example by making certain they get their pets registered and vaccinated. Recently, the city acquired three more traps, including one that was free, she said. This was due to an attempted return of one trap which she did not like, but Amazon’s insistence she keep the trap and they reimbursed the city.
The city is also the recipient of a $315 grant to purchase a microchip scanner, she said.
Property violations cleared
Then Kipper’s report turned to property code enforcement. She listed contacts she has made with citizens in violation of five different categories of property code. They included inoperable vehicles, structures, filth, weeds, and other. She explained that while her information indicates letters written, many of the people were contacted in person.
”Sometimes it is more productive to approach some individuals about code improvement requests solely in person versus writing letters,” she said. “It is my personal preference with my most successful results.”
The personal touch seems to help. For some people, she has found they simply need a coupon from a local garbage contractor in order to get in compliance. Stutzman Refuse Disposal, the city’s refuse removal contractor, offers residents of Hoisington one annual large item pick-up, she explained. Providing this service has been met with appreciation from many.
From September through December 2015, she contacted 75 individuals, and from Jan. 1 to present, she’s initiated 58 contacts, many of which included follow ups on previous communication. Most of those contacted in 2015, 69 percent, were either in compliance and 7 percent were in the process of working on compliance. In 2016, those in compliance made up 48 percent and those in the process were 38 percent.
“In the winter, I’m hearing, it’s hard to tear down sheds and structures, so that is why progress is slower now,” she said.
Citations are mostly for inoperable vehicles and “filth,” which differs from trash in that it is not solely paper refuse, Kipper explained. It could include broken furniture and appliances and other household rubbish not normally bagged for regular pick-up.
Before and after slides illustrated some of her success stories. Photos of homes with dilapidated sheds made way for homes with vacated spaces where the sheds once stood. One success included a before photo at an abandoned house where a large pile of rabbit droppings had been left. Neighbors had contacted her and complained the smell was overpowering during hot summer months. After exhausting other avenues, Kipper arranged for the pile to be removed.
“The cost was $80 to make two property owners happy,” she said. One council person inquired who would pick up the cost. Kipper said the bill would be added to the tax lien on the property.
Stutzman’s worked with one homeowner to bring their property into compliance over several weeks, Kipper said.
“Stutzman has been very kind and accommodating, and has done extra runs for a property that had much refuse and filth,” she explained
The before and after photos of the property showed the transformation from a modest yard littered with refuse and broken appliances and furniture, as well as a dilapidated camper in the driveway. The after photo showed simply a house with a clean yard.
Nothing makes Kipper feel more accomplished in her work than when she sees results, she said. On occasion, she writes thank you cards to people because she wants them to feel that if they have future suggestions, or need to reach out to her, she is receptive. Several council members expressed their appreciation for a job well done.