Northborough selectmen rename “Clean-Up Day”

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By Seth Stutman Community Reporter

Northborough – Based on her numerous community endeavors and tireless work with the annual town clean-up, the Board of Selectmen passed a measure April 11 announcing that Saturday, May 7, will be the first “Louise Houle Annual Clean-up Day.”

Houle, who passed away in December 2010, was the driving force behind the town-wide clean-up each year since starting it in 1985, according to the Northborough Junior Woman's Club member Virginia Simms George.

“It's a great event,” George said. “Last year, we had around 200 participants.”

On May 7, participants will gather at the Robert E. Melican Middle School at 7:45 a.m. to select areas to clean. Volunteers do not have to clean-up specifi cally on Saturday, but they are asked to do so by the end of that weekend so that the Department of Public Works can pick up the bags of trash. Participants will be provided with maps, gloves, bags and water. The event will culminate in a picnic at Ellsworth McAfee Park at 12:45 p.m. Local businesses will be donating food for the event.

The board next considered a complaint concerning the “vicious disposition” of dogs owned by Brant Viner and Margaret Harling of 85 West St. The hearing was held to discuss the temperament of the couple's three Airedale Terriers who have prompted complaints dating back to 2007.

Animal Control Officer Claudia McGuire led a discussion of the many infractions of which the dogs have been accused, including attacking neighborhood dogs, of which one was a beagle. The owners of the Airedales have also been issued multiple leash law violations.

Tom Sullivan of 232 Crawford St., a 20-year resident of Northborough, spoke at the hearing of being attacked by the dogs.

“This is a very serious matter,” he said, “at age 69, lying on the road fighting with dogs who were trying to kill my dog and [who also] bit me.”

Viner and Harling, who were present with their lawyer, defended themselves, as they cited high levels of snowfall and the positive disposition of Airedales. They offered to contain the dogs rather than having them put down.

“I am truly sorry that Phineas bit your dog,” Harling said to Sullivan. “Phineas is my companion – the dogs are my companions. I beg you to consider the idea [of not putting them down].”

More than a dozen neighbors, veterinarians and witnesses gave testimony on both sides of the issue.

After three hours of discussion, the board maintained that an eight-foot fence must be built to surround the house, with the portion facing West Street shielded from view. Phineas must be muzzled at all times and when outside the fenced area, the dogs must be leashed and held by capable adults.

In other business, the board approved two events – the Reach the Beach Relay Race, which will be held Friday, May 20, and the Northborough Garden Club's Annual Plant Sale, which will be held Saturday, May 14.