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Who is liable for groundhogs?

Joe Centers • Jul 7, 2013 at 12:23 PM

GREENWICH — Personnel at the library want the village to reimburse them for damage done to their vehicles by what they suspect are groundhogs.

Behind the Greenwich Library, next to high weeds lining the CSX Railroad tracks, an old farm silo appears to be a perfect habitat for many critters.

The Ruggles family owns the silo and the tall weeds and brush that surround it and the concrete pads, according to Village Administrator Virgil Giles.

Even though the village doesn’t own the surrounding property, Librarian Stephanie Buchanan attended a regularly scheduled council meeting Tuesday to get officials’ reaction to the request.

Buchanan had previously complained to village hall about the groundhogs. “I can’t even park there,” Buchanan said.

As a result, the village employees used smoke bombs to try to control the groundhogs and called pest control.

Live traps were set and some of the critters were caught, but not before vehicles were damaged. A live trap remains on the property to continue efforts to round up the rodents, Giles said.

But, Buchanan claims no efforts were made immediately after her complaints and the groundhogs chewed electrical wiring under the employees’ vehicles. One of the employee’s vehicle’s fuel system was damaged and rendered the vehicle disabled, according to officials.

“So, I’m liable because I can’t catch the groundhog? The village of Greenwich is liable? I’m confused about when we became liable for the groundhogs,” Giles said.

Village Clerk Betty Inmon contacted the village’s insurance company. However, the insurance representative she spoke to “about laughed me off the phone,” Inmon said.

“We don’t own (the groundhogs). We don’t raise them or sell them. They’re not the responsibility of the village,” Inmon said, recounting her conversation with the insurance company.

The problem is a lack of proof.

“Did you see groundhogs chewing the wires,” an official asked Buchanan, to which she answered, “No.”

Officer faces council

A police officer who stopped murder suspects recently during a traffic stop also attended Tuesday’s meeting to field questions from council.

Councilman Steve Bovia asked Officer Aaron Smith why he allowed the suspects to leave, adding that he had received many comments and questions from residents after the Reflector published the story.

Smith said he wasn’t aware the men were suspects in the murder of a man in New Haven Township.

The suspects didn’t have documentation of the vehicle’s registration nor a driver’s license when Smith stopped them.

Smith and Dorsey told Bovia many people drive without the proper documentation and it is up to the police officer whether to make an issue of it.

“It’s not uncommon for someone not to have a license or registration. It’s really not. ...There’s a lot of variables and (the suspects’) answers were reasonable to (Smith),” said Dorsey.

The suspects are both from another country and the language was a problem, Dorsey added.

Festival this weekend

Dorsey also announced that security for this weekend’s festival has been planned and the officers of the department are “ready to go.”


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