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Front Page » March 11, 2008 » Local News » Helper dogged by animal waste in parks, city officials ge...
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Helper dogged by animal waste in parks, city officials get tough

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Sun Advocate reporter

Heritage Days sent back to drawing board

Apparently this dog can't read English. Largely because of droppings the town's beautification committee approached council members seeking the ban.

Helper dog owners may want to steer clear of walking their pups on the parkway in the very near future.

The city council voted unanimously to prohibit canines on the area down by the river at their March 6 meeting. The issue of dogs on the parkway came to light at the Feb. 21 meeting when representatives from the town's new beautification committee expressed concern that any work done on the area would ultimately be destroyed by the furry visitors.

"It's just not fair to the committee to allow dogs on the parkway," Councilman Larry Ganser said. "There are so many other places in town to walk dogs."

Dog dropping appeared to be the main concern of the committee members and the council.

"We have a real problem with dog doo doo," Helper Mayor Mike Dalpiaz said. "Everybody was going to clean it up but they aren't."

Public Works Supervisor Orlando Ochoa added that the parkway wasn't the only area beset with the pups' piles.

"I've seen dogs go right on the sidewalk and the owners not stop to clean it up," he said. "And we have signs all over the city cemetery and residents ignore them."

A dog owner in the audience asked if the city couldn't provide bags for cleanup.

"We discussed that in the past," Dalpiaz said. "But people decided that it was easier to bring their own."

As it turned out the councilmembers had a previous law to back up their decision, an ordinance existed for many years prohibiting dogs on the parkway.

"When we had that ordinance it was very effective," Ochoa said.

Dalpiaz added that the original ordinance came about because of dogs that were actually on the leash walking up and biting people. He said that they were also killing the trees and flowers when they went to the bathroom.

"It was however a very controversial ordinance and five or six years ago it was rescinded," he said.

Councilman P.J. Jensen then moved to reinstate the ordinance,but Helper Attorney Gene Strait had some questions on the motion.

"This is the only park where we allow dogs, do we actually have an ordinance?" Strait asked.

Assured there was a law, he said that he would re-draft the ordinance and bring it back to the March 20 meeting for a vote.

Chessie, a black lab mix, takes her last stroll down Helper's famed parkway. Along with barring dogs from the walking path, the committee also went back to the drawing board concerning planning for the annuall Heritage Days celebration.

In other business the council turned a critical eye to the proposal for this year's Heritage Days.

Jensen brought the tentative schedule for the week-long Wild West extravaganza to be conducted at the beginning of June. In the hopper is a dinner, silent auction, a model railroad show, a mining demonstration, a Butch Cassidy look-a-like contest and unusual race.

"We are planning a bordello bed race with teams of five people each," he said. "We already have six entries."

One of the key aspects of the event appeared to be recognition in the international magazine True West, in which Helper had once received a number one rating, but recently slipped to 14.

"Basically last year the committee wanted to find ways to improve on our event so that we can get back into the top 10," said Jensen.

However, the town's rating in the magazine seemed to trouble the council.

"You spent $12,000 on advertising in True West magazine," Dalpiaz said. "What did we do, buy the first place rating?"

The mayor added that he had been to the event for the past couple of years and wasn't impressed by the turn out.

"The ones I have been to, I just don't see a lot of people," he said. "Are we getting the bang for our buck?"

Jensen acknowledged that there had been problems in the past and that was why the committee decided to expand the scope of the event this year.

"Even with a ranking of 14 we are still listed in an international magazine," he said. "It's helping the status of our town getting our name out in the world."

The cash return was not the only concern, despite the number of events already scheduled, council members took into account a large amount of down time during each day and said that it would be hard to keep people interested enough to stay.

Ganser suggested that maybe a dance, a barbecue and a picnic be added to the festivities.

He and Councilman John Jones hit upon the idea of setting up booths where vendors could sell a variety of items to people attending the celebration.

"People like to come and buy things like T-shirts and homemade knives," the men commented.

With several loose ends to tie up, the council recommended that Jensen bring back a tighter plan to the council at a later date.

The Helper City Council meets again March 20 at 6 p.m. at the auditorium. For more information on meetings and getting on the agenda call Recorder Jona Skeri at 472-5391.

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