I am very disturbed at the abrupt dismissal of long time Danville Town personnel by the Board of Selectmen. First it was the Selectmen's Clerk a while back and then, most recently, the Animal Control Officer (ACO). As a longtime resident (22 years), these are people that I interacted with numerous times and that I considered very professional and effective in their jobs.

Last year, the Danville Board of Selectmen (chaired by Shawn O'Neil) chose not to reappoint Sheila Johannesen to the Animal Control Officer (ACO) position that she had devotedly held for seven years. They made their decision in a non public meeting, which gave Sheila no chance to defend herself or speak to their alleged grievances. How in the world could this decision have possibly been in the best interests of the Town? It certainly couldn't have been for job performance or budgetary reasons.

Sheila's vigorous enforcement of state-required license laws more than paid for her salary. In fact, Sheila's hard work and devotion to her job had always been above and beyond the call of duty. When the Town wouldn't pay for adequate training, Sheila applied for scholarships and was able to attend at no cost to the Town. When the Town wouldn't give her a town vehicle so that she wouldn't have to use her own personal vehicle to transport lost pets, Sheila was able to solicit and obtain a donated vehicle at no cost to the Town. Having a limited budget that wouldn't pay for adequate equipment, Sheila worked at obtaining equipment donations. In fact, she was able to get pet resuscitation equipment donated to the Town's Fire Department, again, at no cost to the Town. In addition, Sheila started a non profit organization called the Danville RAINBOW Association (Rescuing Animals in Need by Offering Welfare), which helped to offset expenditures within the Animal Control Department. Sheila raised funds for this organization through donations, bake sales, annual low cost rabies clinics for persons who couldn't afford veterinary visits and other fundraising events. For all of us in Town who have ever panicked over a lost pet, Sheila had always been there for us and worked however long it took to find and return our beloved pets to their home. For those pets who never found their way home, Sheila always found them a new one.

In my opinion, the decision to not reappoint Sheila as ACO was a very bad one. Taken together with the abrupt dismissal of the former Selectmen's Clerk, it should certainly make everyone in Danville want to question the Selectmen's judgment regarding these and other decisions that they are making in the so called "best interests of the Town".

Please keep this in mind during the next election and vote "Yes" on citizen petition Article 2012-18 to make the ACO position an elected position.

Laura Games


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