Two important concerns were brought to the chambers during public testimony at Tuesdays Mason County Commissioner meeting. While the two topics did not seem related on the surface they appeared to bring to light a mutual dilemma. Namely, a vocal concern that current county guidelines are either falling behind the rapid changes and evolution of the county; or those guidelines which have been passed to promote such evolution are not being correctly enforced.
Local small business owner Patrick Burke recounted three separate encounters with aggressive dogs, specifically pit-bulls, which he has encountered both in local parks and on his property. He claimed that he has had to defend himself with lethal force against these animals on at least one occasion, and felt forced to utilize his personal firearm multiple times during these encounters.
Burke called for stricter animal control laws, stating he has spoken with local animal control officials who told him current regulations prevent them from acting against what he views as dangerous animals. Burke had suggestions ranging from required tags for dogs which may be considered vicious, to tracking chips which would be implanted into animals at the owner's expense. He voiced concern Mason County is “becoming Humboldt County”, and the growing cannabis industry will attract a rowdy crowd of younger citizens, who have an affiliation with such animals, to the area.
In an ironic display of the generational schism which is becoming more and more prominent in the county, the next speaker has invested himself fully in state's newest 'cash-crop'. Todd Nelson, head of the 'Patient 2 Patient' medical marijuana collective, brought with him a completed, signed off permit demonstrating his completion of the county's requirements.
Nelson claims that he has worked diligently to ensure that every aspect of his collective sits well within the boundaries of state and local law, and that he has been forced to consistently identify where his competitors fail to meet county code requirements. Additionally, he voiced concern that many other collectives have been operating without proper licensing or inspection, and other such gardens have been able to proceed virtually undisturbed, without meeting the requirements of the county's Ordinance 30-13.
The appearance of these two cases, occurring back-to-back from one another, seem to underline the changes happening in Mason County today, and how drastically different they are viewed by the population.
KMAS News – written by Adam Click with contributions from JE – August 19, 2014