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Charleston has cat problem, councilman says

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston has a cat problem, City Councilman Cubert Smith said Monday, and no way of fighting it.

"I have a problem in my ward," Smith, whose Ward 9 covers mostly hilly areas above the East End, told members of city council. "The cats are running wild. There's one home with over 50 cats in it.

"There's nothing in our code that gives us anything to do. It's becoming a health problem." Following a recent retirement, the city has just one animal control officer, he said.

"St. Albans has a cat ordinance. I think it's time to add something to our code." The St. Albans law limits owners to no more than two cats, he said.

Council President Tom Lane, a longtime council member, said he's received cat complaints over the years. "Mr. Smith raises a legitimate question," he said.

The city has considered at least two cat control measures in the past, Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis said, but found problems with both.

Mayor Danny Jones, who used to help collect trash, said there's little the city can do without an ordinance. "I remember when I was out on the truck, I used to hear a lot about this." He promised to take up the issue again.

In other business, council members agreed to spend $40,000 to buy four propane conversion kits and tanks for city vehicles, through Propane Fuel Technologies LLC.

"We were approached by the company. They have a grant that will pay for the conversion ... we will be reimbursed," City Manager David Molgaard said. "It will allow us to retrofit four F150 Ford pickup trucks to use propane fuel. There's already a propane fueling station at Florida Street and the boulevard.

"They will be dual-fueled so if it doesn't work out, no harm no foul," he said. "It's no cost to us, our first foray into this."

Other agencies, like the Kanawha County Commission, are experimenting with liquefied natural gas, or "LNG." Propane is heavier than LNG, Molgaard said. He said there could be a shakeout period and one technology could emerge, like the battle between Betamax and VHS, he said.

Lane said the city should take a long-term view and consider LNG, too. "I think that's the future. Natural gas will be plentiful."

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.

 


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