Manila man fighting for goat

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

MANILA -- A Manila man just wants to keep his pet goat.

Manila citizen Kenneth Wallace and his attorney Mickey Connealy appeared before the Manila City Council Monday to ask for an ordinance variance concerning Wallace's pet.

Wallace was cited for being in violation of a city ordinance that forbids goats, pigs or any other hoofed animals from living within the city limits.

"We are asking for a variance for the life of the goat or the length of interest Mr. Wallace's son has in the goat," Connealy said. "We have several photos of other citizens in the area who have goats and other animals that are in violation of the ordinance."

Wallace said his goat doesn't smell, is well kept, doesn't get out and he has immediate plans to build a privacy fence around his property. City attorney Wayne Wagner told the council in cases such as this the council takes the information under advisement for 30 days, giving the city time to speak to neighbors to see if they have any complaints. Wallace said he has not had any neighbors complain about the goat.

"You do not have to have a complaint against you to be in violation of the ordinance," Wagner said.

"There are several folks that have goats and other animals that are in violation of the ordinance," Connealy said. "It is unconstitutional to hold one person to an ordinance and not the rest."

"You want us to get rid of all the goats in Manila?" Mayor Clifford Veach asked.

"You cannot legally apply an ordinance to one person and not everyone else, and I'm sure your attorney can speak to that," Connealy said.

Wagner said that Connealy was correct that the city could not apply an ordinance to one person and not to others.

"It is like our officers stopping a speeding vehicle," Wagner explained. "If they selectively stop someone it is illegal, but if you just stop as many as you can, it is not."

"I spoke to Mr. Bowman (animal control officer) and he has not even seen the goat," Connealy said. "He said he was told by his boss to give a ticket."

Wagner said the ordinance speaks for itself and that by asking for a variance that Wallace was admitting he was in violation of that ordinance. The council took the pictures and address of others in Manila that have animals that violate the ordinance and agreed to take the issue under advisement for another month.

In other business, councilman Donnie Wagner asked to table discussion of a horse arena until next spring, at which time he plans to present possible locations for the arena, and will have a better idea of how many youth would be interested in the arena.

In his budget review Mayor Veach said the city appeared to be in good shape. He said the year is about 42 percent and there are some accounts over budget and some that are under but those would change as the year continued.

"I wrote a letter to Congressman Marion Berry, Sen. Mark Prior, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln asking for financial assistance on a youth center," Veach said. "I have not gotten a response yet. I did meet with two representatives from Marion Berry's office and one staff member implicated that writing a letter with some preliminary information is what needed to be done. I put in the letter that we intend to spend $500,000 to $600,000 on a youth center and could match some of those funds. We are seeking an earmark. We have never used one before, and I expect them to give us some kind of priority on this. This is the first year we have applied for one. We will apply in January and will not know anything until July or August of 2009."

Veach said he will keep the council informed of any response he gets concerning the youth center.

Earlier this year the city of Manila sent copies of all of its ordinances to a company to be organized by sections and put together in a book. The council received a copy of the book to proof before giving final approval. Veach said he found a few things that were left out but those would be corrected and once those things are done the book will be ready to be finalized.

"It will be nice to have all of our ordinances in one book," Veach said. "Right now they are in three or four books and it is hard to find things."

Veach said the fire station is going up slowly but surely. Later in the meeting the council chose the type of brick to be used in building the fire station.

Veach then publicly recognized the Manila High School boys baseball team and girls softball team for their great seasons. Both teams won district and both teams went to state this year.

The council then voted unanimously to give city employees $1,700, department heads $2,000 and part-time employees a 6 percent mid-year bonus.

Before the meeting adjourned, citizen Earl Jackson thanked the council for its consideration of a horse arena and encouraged each council member to go out and talk to their neighbors and others about the need for a city swimming pool.

"I think it will benefit everyone and would like to see it back on the ballot," Jackson said.

City attorney Wagner said if the council would like to have the water park/swimming pool issue on the November general election ballot where there is a bigger voter turnout, they would need to act soon.

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