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County working to restore animal control, code enforcement service levels

Animal Control Manager Paul Scarpelli resigned ‘on or around May 23’ according to county official

VANCOUVER — Clark County is coping with an unexpected, temporary reduction in Animal Protection and Control and Code Enforcement service levels.

The county continues to provide animal licensing and is working to restore previous levels of animal control service.

Two county officials confirmed to ClarkCountyToday.com Monday that Animal Control Manager Paul Scarpelli resigned his position “on or around May 23.’’ There were several other positions that are now vacant due to resignations and terminations.

“It’s a personnel matter,’’ County Chair Marc Boldt told ClarkCountyToday.com Monday. “All I can say is the union is not fighting it. Some animal control employees resigned and some were terminated. Currently, we are trying to use other departments. We’re also trying to get different staff, but they have to be sworn officers so it’s hard to get someone up to speed right away.’’

Boldt echoed what was stated in a county press release issued Monday afternoon. Summer weather and July 4 activities also can heighten fire danger. Code Enforcement officers will make it a priority to respond to complaints about accumulated dried weeds.

“The county is focused on meeting the immediate demands of summer weather and Independence Day activities, both of which can be stressful and harmful for animals,’’ read the news release. “Over the next several weeks, Animal Protection and Control officers and an after-hours service provider working for the county will increase enforcement and outreach activities.’’

Mitch Nickolds, interim Community Development director, confirmed the staff crisis when contacted by ClarkCountyToday.com Monday.

“I will tell you there have been service level challenges with that unit that has developed over the past three weeks,’’ said Nickolds, who also stated in the news release that, “it is our hope to have full service levels restored by mid-August.’’

Bob Bergquist, who normally serves in administrative services as the finance manager for community development, was recently asked to serve as the interim manager of animal control and code enforcement. He said that normal staffing levels in animal control include five officers. On Monday, he said the department had just one officer on duty and he expected two officers to be on duty on Tuesday.

“It’s just some unanticipated pressures on our resources that have caused a temporary reduction in our ability to provide the normal level of service we are accustomed to providing,’’ Bergquist told ClarkCountyToday.com Monday. “We are at a lower level of staffing temporarily. It is a fluid situation.’’

Bergquist said the public likely has experienced greater response times from both Animal Protection and Control and Code Enforcement.

“We’ve had a difficult time responding back to community inquiries, whether they be complaints or other questions about licensing or other matters,’’ Bergquist said. “Our ability to respond in a timely manner is not where we want it to be. That’s the biggest thing at the moment.’’

Bergquist and Nickolds both indicated the departments have prioritized their responses to those inquiries by the public.

“So far we’ve been able to handle priority calls out in the field over the last couple of weeks,’’ Bergquist said. “Our folks who are working are doing an outstanding job. But, there are other calls that we would normally be able to get to that will take us longer to respond to, but this is temporary.’’

Bergquist said the Animal Control manager vacancy hasn’t been posted yet but that he has been told “there is a recruitment that has been developed.’’ He also said he personally was working on the recruitment for the vacant officer positions and that those would be posted next week.

None of the county officials contacted Monday by ClarkCountyToday.com would confirm the reason for the sudden departures of Scarpelli and the other staffers. A message to Scarpelli via social media wasn’t immediately answered.

“This is a challenge but we will get through this,’’ Bergquist said. “The unanticipated nature of this challenge causes us to react as opposed to plan for it in a smoother fashion, but we are diligently working to get service levels restored.’’

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About The Author

Ken Vance, Editor

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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