Ban dogs from the beach?




The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of County Commissioners was a long one and included key items regarding economic development, road abandonment and historic preservation.

So, it was little surprise that the Don Butler Commission Meeting Room was packed, standing-room-only, spilling out in the hallway, as full as it has been in months.

A little more than two hours into what became a four-hour marathon, it became clear that the vast majority of folks in attendance were there for action that was never broached by commissioners.

Dwayne Piergiovanni, a resident and businessman in South Gulf County, sought to press commissioners to increase enforcement of the county’s leash laws.

By the time the meeting rolled around, that plea had been conflated online and social media into an attempt to ban dogs from the beach.

And in this pet-friendly county, those were clearly tussling words.

Piergiovanni, with a power point presentation, said the incidence of unleashed nuisance dogs, either those soiling the beaches or jumping at or attacking others, were on the rise.

Too many people were not cleaning up after their dogs, he said, and too many were ignoring the county’s ordinance that requires all dogs to be leashed or otherwise under the control of their owners.

Piergiovanni offered several options for bolstering funding for enforcement of the leash laws and suggested the Gulf County Tourist Development Council should be more circumspect in how the pet-friendly beaches are marketed.

“We do have a leash law and the majority of people abide by it,” said Commissioner Phil McCroan to loud applause. “We are never going to get 100 percent (compliance), but the majority of people do the right thing.”

With one animal control officer and constrained funding, McCroan said, the county is doing the best it can to address any issues.

Kelli Godwin, TDC executive director, added that the county consistently ranks at the top of lists of pet-friendly destinations and that the TDC emphasizes the leash laws when dealing with visitors.

Resident Kim Miller suggested additional signage and cleaning stations along the beach would at least be a start.

The question of outlawing dogs from the beach never arose.

And, while the vast majority in attendance exited the meeting after the discussion, satisfied, several walked up to Piergiovanni and thanked him for raising the subject, no matter the blowback from the majority in the room.

Wewahitchka courthouse

The county is moving ahead with conveying the historic Wewahitchka Courthouse to North Florida Child Development, adding proviso language that would allow the conveyance to include a foundation formed by local pioneer families in order to pursue historic preservation efforts and grant funding.

Road abandonment

Commissioners halted any action to abandon Miscogee or Rish Harbor roads on the north end of the county.

The request to abandon had come from Deseret, but due to the presence of two historic cemeteries and another historical site, those two roads will remain county roads.

As part of an overall transaction with Deseret pertaining to other roads abandoned by the county, the county this week took formal possession of the Odena Boat landing and access road.

The conveyance will allow the county to pursue improvements to the landing.

Waste Pro amnesty day

Waste Pro will hold its annual Amnesty Day, during which people may dispose of items such as batteries, paint, oil and other items, the last Saturday in April at the Five Points Transfer Station.

County administrator Don Butler said the company was targeting that Saturday as the static date for the annual event.