Dog Warden Might Go Through Mediation Process

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An Athens County commissioner is proposing that the county dog warden and a member of a dog shelter support group go through a formal mediation process.

The topic was discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the commissioners.

The idea is the outgrowth of an Aug. 15 verbal confrontation between Dog Warden Jeff Koons and Karen Pilcher, a member of Friends of the Shelter Dogs. At the time, Commissioner Lenny Eliason said the incident between Koons and Pilcher was about pick-up times for the Friends to get dogs from the shelter. Koons was given a written reprimand by the commissioners for “discourteous treatment of the public.”

This past Sunday, Commissioner Chris Chmiel received an e-mail from Pilcher in which she referenced the incident.

“…You said you were going to take care of Jeff’s responsibility in approaching me to apologize, which you all as commissioners asked him to do and he never has,” Pilcher wrote. “I was in the shelter (Thursday) briefly and felt like I did not belong there, so uncomfortable. Nothing specific, just how I feel now if I have to go there.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Chmiel broached the idea of having Koons and Pilcher go through mediation with the Athens Area Mediation Service. Koons told the commissioners Tuesday that he had encountered Pilcher since the August incident and there was no problem. He said he thought the incident had been put behind them.

“I didn’t know there was a problem still,” Koons said.

Chmiel said he thinks mediation would be helpful.

“We’re got to get to a working relationship,” Chmiel said. “I just want us to get to where we’re rowing in the same direction.”

There is a $50 fee for the mediation, and Commissioner Lenny Eliason said such expenses are usually not bourn by just one side in a dispute.

Chmiel said he will ask Friends of the Shelter Dogs if they want to pay half the cost.

No action on the matter was taken Tuesday by the commissioners.