Letter: Commissioners never wanted animal ordinance

To the Editor:

Hoke County Commissioners never wanted a revised Animal Control Ordinance. After years of ignoring requests from the public for a new ordinance, Commissioners, in 2019, finally requested volunteers to serve on an ACO review committee; 18 people signed up; all 18 were appointed to the Committee. They were given no guidance, except at the first meeting in May 2019, to elect a chair, vice-chair, and secretary, and that they were to meet every other month in the Commissioners’ room.
At that first meeting, the committee members wanted to and voted to hold meetings twice a month, but since the County office wouldn’t be available, meetings would be at the Hoke County Library.
Progress was slow at first. Most members were not aware that since the Commissioners had appointed them, the Committee would have to follow N.C. Open Meeting rules and that they would have to have at least 10 members at every meeting in order to have a quorum in order to vote on any decisions. Several members resigned from the committee for a variety of reasons—health, personal, and frustration with the lack of progress. The County Lawyer informed the remaining members that the Commissioners were the only ones who could remove members since the board was the appointing authority. Despite several appeals to the board, through their clerk, for removal of those unable or unwilling to remain active on the committee, the Board of Commissioners did not respond.
On February 20, 2020, the chair of the Committee received a letter from the Board of Commissioners, through USPS mail, stating: “Due to lack of participation and low attendance at the meetings, the Board is disbanding the committee.”
There was no attempt of any face-to-face meeting, mail, email, or telephone conversation, with any member of the committee, to find out the progress of the work done by the remaining active members. Though, due to lack of a quorum, the remaining active members had been working informally and efficiently, and were in the final stages of having a proposed Animal Control Ordinance to present to the Board of Commissioners.
The actions (or more properly, lack of action) by the Board of Commissioners, not only blindsided the remaining committee members, but also demonstrates lack of respect for and rudeness to the Hoke County citizens who were working hard to provide a comprehensive, enforceable Animal Control Ordinance for the betterment of Hoke County citizens and animals.

Ellen Bradford
Aberdeen (Hoke County)