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Gaston city staff could jump 50 percent (from 2 to 3)

Feral cat population might increase too as solutions elude council


The Gaston City Council met last Wednesday, March 11, to discuss employee supervision, part-time help and the city’s ongoing feral cat problem.

Mayor Tony Hall brought up a discussion about whether the city should hire on-call, part- or full-time help for the city’s only two employees, City Recorder Wenonah Blanchette and Public Works Director Rich Williams.

Hall said hiring another employee might benefit the city, especially if Blanchette and Williams both happen to be out sick or on vacation. When both employees were sick recently, for example, the city fell behind on reading water meters and sending out the bills.

Most councilors agreed additional help for city employees would be a good thing and decided to continue the discussion at the council's April meeting.

In addition, the city’s employees currently don't have a supervisor or someone they report to, so councilors voted to make Mayor Hall the supervisor. The city's insurance company will see this step positively, councilors and city employees agreed.

Hall provided a long list of his previous supervisory experiences to councilors, including some stemming from his time in the military.

Previously, the two employees reported to the city council when requested but were not directly supervised.

Finally, a month after a Gaston resident complained about the city's numerous feral cats running loose and pooping in peoples’ yards and gardens, Hall reported on his quest for an answer to the problem.

He called Washington County Animal Services but learned they don’t currently have rules regarding feral cats. Animal services staff said there is technically an option to catch feral cats, bring them in to have them spayed for $10 and then bring them back to Gaston to release, but locals can’t just catch any cat and bring it in to be spayed or neutered. They’d have to be able to prove the cat is feral, not a neighbor’s.

So there’s not much anyone can do, councilors decided, except to send out tips in next month’s water bills about how to make the city less attractive to feral cats.

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