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Horse Ka Ka Update


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, December 23, 2015


   At the December, 2015 town council meeting, Fort Fairfield town manager, Jim Risner updated the town council on the current horse manure on the roads situation in Fort Fairfield - a problem which is also being endured by other communities as well.  He recently met with Mr. Puckett, Presque Isle city manager.  “He updated me the Presque Isle town council appreciate the regional effort.  They're on board, they have the same issues and concerns that the Fort Fairfield town council has.”

   Mr. Risner also met with Mr. Miller and Mr. Yoder, two of the Amish leaders in Fort Fairfield “I had a worthwhile conversation with them.  I think they have a real desire to keep Main Street and other streets clean, they understand what the issues are.  I've got a dialogue with Mr. Miller since the issue's come up for them to try to rectify the issue as best they can.” 

   Local Senator, Mike Willette has also been consulted with regarding this problem.  “He's done a lot of research on it but the bottom line is it's probably a County issue,” said Mr. Risner.  “Also, most of the state isn't affected by it.  One of the things Senator Willette said was if you get an ordinace you'll have a tool to do something but how do you utilize that tool.  You've got to see when it happens, who does it and you have to have the ability to enforce that.”

   There is currently nothing on this issue in the Maine legislature this session, but Risner says there is nothing ready to be presented to them at this point. 

   The Aroostook Managers Association will be meeting in January and Mr. Risner suggested this would be a topic there, as well.  “We'll talk with that this is on their agenda to try to get some ideas on how we can approach this.”    So we're still looking at options, still trying to find a model ordinance.  I will have something at least for the January council meeting, back from the AMA meeting.

   Town councilor, Sue LeVasseur asked if the horse manure in the streets could be classified as “littering” or if it could fall under the law that requires pet owners to clean up after their dogs on a public way.  “No, I looked at that, I looked at animal waste, looking to see if there was any law on that.  It doesn't give us anything,” said Risner.  “Horses are livestock and livestock are completely separate.” 

   Representative Anthony Edgecomb (R-Fort Fairfield, Easton) is looking into a topic that Risner says is kind of related to this one and that is the issue of lighting on the carriages and the buggies.  “He's still looking at the Constitutionality of that.  I think that would be one of the challenges on road apples is even if we passed an ordinance, would it stand up in court.  We want to be sure that even if we bring an ordinance to the council we will have something that will pass that muster.”

   Mr. Risner says the dialogue with the Amish community continues to be open as all parties involved seek a solution that is amenable to all sides.  “I sincerely believe that last month's council meeting and the media coverage after that kind of got their attention and that's why Mr. Miller came and spoke with me.  So, I think it's good we had that discussion, and Presque Isle's having that discussion.”

   The suggestion a Fort Fairfield Journal reader offered regarding the usage of bags on the backs of horses to capture the manure, as is done in Michigan, has not been acknowledged or discussed by the town council, yet.