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February 28, 2014

Butternuts hires new dog warden after conflict claim

Staff Report
The Daily Star

---- — Butternuts town officials have hired a new dog warden, filling the job with the animal control officer for Pittsfield, thus ending a two-month dispute.

Town Supervisor Charles Eckelmann had questioned the arrangement in which newly elected town board member Scot Lueck — who has been the town’s dog warden — sought to keep the position.

At a special meeting of the town board Wednesday night, Eckelmann said, Lueck withdrew his interest in the job and there was unanimous agreement to hire Liz Fish of Pittsfield.

He said she was deemed the most qualified candidate after she responded to a help-wanted ad the town placed in The Daily Star.

Fish is the part-time dog warden for both Pittsfield and New Lisbon, he said.

“She came highly recommended,” said Eckelmann, noting Fish got positive reviews from officials at the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The dog warden position pays $2,800-a-year, with reimbursements for mileage. Town board members get an annual salary of $1,200.

Eckelemann said he believed that keeping Lueck in the dog control position would lead to potential conflicts, because, as both an elected board member and a town employee, he would be essentially reporting to himself.

Lueck, at a previous meeting, had voted along with two other board members, Heather Covington and Michele Farwell, to appoint himself s dog warden, Eckelmann said. He said he and a fifth board member, Don Hunt, wanted to bring in a new person.

The stalemate ended, he said, when town attorney David Merzig provided guidance at the meeting, at which point all five board members agreed to hire Fish.