Council votes to remove cat from library

Claire Smith poses with Browser the cat and a library worker.
Claire Smith poses with Browser the cat and a library worker.

by A.C. Hall

On Tuesday, the White Settlement City Council voted to remove Browser, the cat that has lived in the library for the past six years.  This came despite an outpouring of support for the cat.  The council chambers were full, with most in attendance there to voice their support for Browser.
Discussions on this item began with Mayor Ronald A. White, who spoke in support of Browser.  Council member Dave Mann also voiced his support of keeping the cat in the library.  Eight members of the audience also spoke, each of them voicing their approval for keeping Browser in the library.  Reasons given were his pest control abilities, his ability to draw children to the library, and the fact that he is loved by the people of the city.  A petition signed by 618 people who support keeping the cat in the library was also mentioned.  
The one point touched upon that could be considered a negative aspect of the cat’s presence in the library was people who may have cat allergies.  It was mentioned that the library will put the cat in a secluded area if a library visitor requests it, while another speaker also pointed out that only a small percentage of people have cat allergies.  Several who said they suffer from cat allergies still voiced their support of Browser.  One speaker stated that anyone who has an allergic issue with the cat can simply visit a different library.
Council member Elzie Clements addressed this issue, saying that he’s heard from people that don’t want the cat in the library.  He also revealed that he too, holds this opinion.
“City Hall and City businesses are no place for animals,” Clements said.
He acknowledged that it was an unpopular thing to say, but stood by his statement. Clements even mentioned the fact that he’s up for re-election later this year and that he’d likely lost votes for voicing his opinion against the cat.
“I probably just doomed my fate,” Clements said.
Council member Paul Moore also spoke against keeping the cat.  He stated that while some people with cat allergies were fine with Browser, there are those with more severe allergies that can’t handle the cat’s presence in the library.  Moore went on to add that the library needs to be open to everybody, including people who have severe pet allergies.
Mann made a motion to keep Browser at the library.  When no one seconded his motion, it died. Clements then made a motion to remove the cat within the next thirty days.  That motion passed 2 – 1, with Clements and Moore for and Mann against.  It was not immediately stated where the cat will be relocated to.  Clements said that whoever originally dropped him off at the Library should be responsible for taking care of him.
WSPD Recognized
Mayor White took a moment to recognize the White Settlement Police Department, pointing out that they’ve booked 185 people between December and March.  White stated that twenty four percent of those bookings were drug related.
“It’s my feeling that our White Settlement Police Department has taken a bite out of crime,” Mayor White said. “I applaud the WSPD, they’ve done a heck of a job.”
Mayor White went on to say that citizens should thank the local police anytime they see them.
Splash Dayz update
City Manager Jim Ryan gave an update on the soon to open Splash Dayz water park.  He invited everyone to come take part in the free day on July 1.
“Please come out and see what we’ve been able to do with your city park,” Ryan said.
He stated that the City has hired 186 employees to work at the park.  Ryan closed out his comments by speaking confidently about the quality of Splash Dayz.
“It’ll be the best water park in the area,” Ryan said.
Change made to official paper designation
Placed on the agenda by Mayor White, this item addressed the designation of two newspapers as the official newspapers of White Settlement.  Currently, the Grizzly Detail Newspaper and the Bomber News each have that title.  As official papers, both were used by the city to advertise events and to post legal notices.
Mayor White’s initial reasoning for the agenda item was due to his displeasure over the Bomber News’ Memorial Day coverage.  He said he later spoke with that newspaper and came to understand what had happened.
The Mayor went on to say that supporting two newspapers during a budget crunch wasn’t fiscally responsible, and that the council needed to at least have a discussion regarding getting rid of one of the papers.  He asked that the amount spent on each paper be mentioned, with the city spending so far this year $7700 on the Bomber and $15,000 on The Grizzly. The reason given for the higher cost of advertising in the Grizzly was due to it’s larger size.
Ben Posey, one of the owners of The Grizzly Detail, addressed the council.  He spoke regarding the ten year lifespan of the paper, saying it’s been an honor to serve the citizens of White Settlement and keep them informed.  Bo Underwood, the owner of the Bomber, also spoke.  He referenced the long history of the Bomber News in White Settlement as well as his past military service.  Underwood told the council that after hearing the numbers, their decision should be an easy one.
One member of the crowd also spoke, voicing support for the Bomber and the fact that they throw their paper to homes.  The fact that the Bomber is thrown to homes was mentioned several times during discussions on this item.
Clements weighed in on the matter, saying that to make a decision like this they needed to make the decision not on personalities, but solely on the economics.  A motion was made to name The Bomber News as the sole official newspaper of the City of White Settlement.  That motion passed 3 – 0.
Mike Arnold honored by son
Speaking at the close of the meeting, late council member Mike Arnold’s son, Mike, addressed the council.  He thanked everyone on behalf of the Arnold family for the kind words and condolences that they’ve given since his father passed away last week.
“My dad really enjoyed being a part of the city and being up here,” Arnold said.
He then removed his father’s nameplate from his seat on the council.