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Chickens Living in Erlanger Debated at City Council Meeting

In Erlanger, debate continues over whether chickens should be allowed in residents' backyards.
 
At Tuesday night's city council meeting, several residents rose to speak on the topic.
 
"I understand you are going to discuss the chickens at the March meeting," said Mike Chisenhall, as he looked askance at council. "I am against it. You just have to go over to Tewes Farm and see what that smells like."
 
Anne Aizyk, a resident who has six chickens, came up next to say that six chickens don't smell bad. She said some cities are debating whether to allow people to keep pit bulls as pets and that comparing pit bulls to chickens is like comparing apples to grapes. She went on to argue against pit bulls are, saying that they are dangerous, and are the top breed for dog bites. She used her three minutes to speak against pit bulls and to explain the benefits of chickens, before her time was up.
 
Laura Miles Tallent started by saying she knew what chickens smelled like, because her dad, John Miles, owned chickens, which he termed exotic birds, and while they were fun for her as a child, they definitely smell bad, she said.
 
"Chickens are noisy, dirty, and in no way sanitary," Tallent stated. "Poop is poop."
 
She said there is a dark side of chickens and that concerns public safety. She produced a Center for Disease Control report which said that last year there were 252 cases of salmonella from backyard chickens in 43 states, and 63 people had to be hospitalized. Tallent said this year there were 895 cases, representing a 350 percent increase, and Kentucky and Ohio had many of the cases.
 
Mary Greenwell stepped up when it was her turn to counter the points that chickens attract coyotes, rats and raccoons, saying that birds and squirrels attract them, too, and even a garden in the backyard will attract animals. She recommended that anyone who wanted to keep chickens should have a contract with their neighbors saying that it was OK with them to have chickens as neighbors. She said chickens could be tested to see if they had salmonella. Greenwell concluded by telling council they should get rid of the street lights because they attract bugs, which in turn attracts bats, and bats are known carriers of rabies.
 
The issue has been discussed by council in the past, and new member Jessica Fette is a proponent of chickens in the city, but she was not at the council meeting due to illness in her family. The discussion was postponed until the March meeting.
 
Other notes:
 
Mayor Tyson Hermes gave a state of the city report, citing his goals of balancing the budget, reducing tax rates, and cutting the spending in each department by 1 percent per year for five years. He said that Erlanger is the right size to be a self-insured city, and he wants to institute a wellness program and a savings sharing plan, allocating a certain amount per person. He wants to promote single-family homeownership, raise property values, and increase the quality of life. In the business category, Hermes wants to continue to spotlight businesses in the community, and help promote the milestones, such as Bluegrass Meats celebrating 150 years. He also wants to put links to businesses on the website, and to increase opportunities to contribute to the community. Within the city, he wants to continue to find efficiencies, make utilities more affordable, and to continue to find ways to thwart the drug epidemic.
 
In addition, Hermes asked all the council members to say what their top two goals were for the city, and then asked the department heads what their topmost goals were, and all of those were included in his PowerPoint presentation.
 
Hermes was named as the city's primary representative to the Municipal Government League and Councilwoman Corine Pitts as the alternate.
 
In a report by City Engineer James Viox, council was informed that potholes have been reduced significantly in the last five years. Viox explained that the city would benefit from the prevailing wage repeal adopted this year by the Kentucky General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin, because they have always set up projects with the prevailing wage in mind, but now they will be able to consolidate projects, and possibly have one contractor instead of two or three. Viox also said that he received an OK from the railroad to do a pedestrian sidewalk by the underpass. He explained there will also be a crosswalk from Crescent Avenue to the side where the veterinary hospital is, and with it will come a handicapped access ramp. Viox said the bids for the project will be at the April meeting.
 
Dr. Kathy Burkhardt, superintendent of Erlanger-Elsmere Schools gave an update, announcing that the district is now rated by the state as "distinguished". She also announced that the district received a $25,000 grant from State Farm, and said they got the grant because the community all called in and voted for the district.  She challenged the community to help close the 30 million word gap that they find in children from 18 months to kindergarten, and they can help by reading to children, and helping them to build their vocabularies.
 
Police Officer Justin Auton received the Life Saving award at the meeting for his efforts on August 13, 2016. Auton responded to a call from Outback restaurant where a 70-year old man was having a cardiac event. Auton and an unnamed nurse started CPR on the man and kept it up until the ambulance arrived. The man survived because of the actions of Auton and the unidentified nurse. 
 
"I have been told this is called the Unicorn award, because it is not given out often," Auton said. "I am humbled. This is a special moment."
 
Mike Due came to talk about his book, a murder mystery set in Erlanger in the 1970's. He described a nice feeling growing up in Erlanger, and termed it "idyllic". He told everyone that he is now 12 chapters into his new book, which is also set in Erlanger, but during the 1980's this time, and said he welcomes stories from residents about people and things that were prominent during that time so he can add to his book. He said the new book is tentatively titled, A Corpse on the Courts at St. Henry Gym. Anyone who  has anecdotes can contact him at [email protected].
 
Five fifth graders came to read their winning essays on drugs and bullying within the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. Siidi Jafar was not present, but Lilly Edwards, Paul Stolz, Lillian O'Mear, and Mia McDonald all read their essays and were congratulated by Mayor Hermes.
 
Linda Dietz, a member of the Covington Optimist Club, read a winning essay by Lauren Tolliver, 18, who attends Lloyd High School. Lauren won $100, and is eligible for the state competition.
 
Hagedorn Appliances was in the business spotlight. Bert and Melinda Brown were honored as the winners of the Christmas Light display contest.
 
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Top photo: Officer Justin Auton received the Life Saving award from Chief Tony Wilson (RCN)
Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Hagedorn Appliance owner Richard Kopser received a plaque from Mayor Tyson Hermes at the council meeting.