#45: Harrison, AR 8/25/16

Looking like a tough-as-nails judge and sounding every bit like the cattle rancher he is, Harrison Mayor Dan Sherrell jabbed his pen into his notes.

“I had a request to move somebody up from the agenda. I’m gonna put Mr. Matt Bell on there, but if he’s up there too long–” the mayor brandished a hefty wooden gavel and gave a sinister smirk–“mallet comes down in my hand.”

Watch your fingers and toes. His Honor runs a tight, highly punitive ship.

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“I will throw it. I never miss.”

“I approach the council to discuss a variance we’re seeking for the Ride the Ozarks Rally,” Bell beseeched the village elders, “so we can set up a designated area to provide receptacles for the smokers. We are trying to keep our park clean.”

But Councilman Brian Herring didn’t care for this un-American segregation of nicotine. “I’ve heard from several citizens and only one has been for it. I’m for the motorcycle rally but I’m not for the variance.” He shook his head. “So…that’s it.”

Mayor Sherrell leaned forward. “All in favor–”

“I want a roll call,” snapped Councilman Herring. He got it–and lost 6-2.

“Okay,” the mayor clucked with a twinkle in his eye. “I will open it to the floor. Yes sir, Mr. Johnson?”

A balding, red-faced man in the front row stood up. He clutched a sheaf of papers in his left hand.

“Earlier this summer, I was surprised to see a coyote walking down the street I live on. As the summer went on, I saw more coyotes during the daylight hours. I’m afraid to leave my dogs in my fenced-in backyard!”

He looked dead-on at the man in charge. “Mr. Mayor, you said I should talk with my neighbors to see if there is a problem. Well, I have spoken with 103 of my closest and dearest neighbors.” The council guffawed.

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Hmmm, methinks this might be a future city council candidate.

“Most of these people have seen coyotes. When I googled ‘coyote attacks on humans,’ one of the first things is a nice 23-page article.” He yanked it out from his packet and passed it along the dais.

“What has been done to remove coyotes out of this neighborhood?”

The mayor pounced like a mongoose on a chicken’s neck.

“I’ll tell you EXACTLY what’s been done. Animal Control is setting cage traps out there. We’re catching an abundance of skunk and groundhogs and possums.”

Half of the room snickered. The mayor stared menacingly at his challenger, gripping the 23-page article. “Since you’re good with all this stuff, if YOU google how to catch ’em…”

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“I’ve never wanted to throw my gavel so badly.”

He calmed himself and continued. “We have one man that’s willing maybe to trap. He has a regular job, but he said he’ll be willing to do it. We will have to be very, very careful about doing this.”

What “regular job” does this coyote-trapper have? Snake wrangler? Bear tranquilizer? Not many guys sit at a desk all day and moonlight as a wildlife vigilante.

This is exactly what made Councilman Mitch Magness nervous. “Would any of the public…like a child in the area, be-”

“That’s why I’m saying, we’re gonna have to be very careful,” Mayor Sherrell retorted ominously, folding his hands on the desk. Then he leaned back and broke into a gaping smile.

“I’m familiar with coyotes, believe it or not. But how I’d take care of ’em is not probably the way you’ll take care of them.”

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