The City Council dis­cussed con­cerns about Hal­loween during the pan­demic, as well as feral cats in the area. Col­legian | Julia Mullins

Hal­loween will go on as usual in Hillsdale this year.  

The Hillsdale City Council addressed con­cerns about trick-or-treating amidst the COVID-19 pan­demic but there was no debate about allowing the holiday to con­tinue as usual. Mayor Adam Stockford said it wasn’t in the city’s juris­diction to cancel the holiday.

“It is not a city-sanc­tioned event,” Stockford said. “It is a national holiday. All we can do is provide sug­gested hours. We would like people to be safe as always.”

Coun­cilmember Ray Briner encouraged people to find alter­native ways to dis­tribute goodies or to con­sider not par­tic­i­pating if they feel unsafe.

“Some people have made some chutes for Hal­loween candy so that there’s no actual contact. If people don’t want to par­tic­ipate, they don’t have to. It’s up to the person whether or not they want to do it,” Briner said.

The council also dis­cussed the ongoing feral cat issue. 

Many members of the council have received numerous com­plaints from con­cerned cit­izens about wild cats attacking birds in their areas, defe­cating under porches and in flower beds, and causing other troubles in the neigh­borhood.

The pro­posal of a feeding ban on the feral cats brought many con­cerned cit­izens to the meeting including members of various animal shelters and vet­erinary clinics from the sur­rounding areas. Many res­i­dents defended their right to take care of the animals on their property and called the pro­posed ban unethical and inhumane.

“We’re called to love God and love one another and to be good stewards,” David Hamilton said. “We’re not called to make a pristine envi­ronment.”

According to Jenny German of SnipNow, a non­profit that spays and neuters cats, the ideal solution is a Trap Neuter Release program. 

“There are problems, but the answer is not having feeding bands,” German said. “They will find food. This breeds par­a­sites, sickness, and rescues will be inun­dated with calls for help. We have three spay and neuter pro­grams that do cats in Hillsdale. I would advocate more TNR.”

Jan Negeldinger of the Branch County Humane Society said that she wants to help Hillsdale with the problem but to cease feeding them is not the way to do it.

“We love Hillsdale. We love Hillsdale County. Hillsdale College stu­dents have a GOAL Program and they’ve raised money to space and neuter. There are places that are resources,” Negeldinger said.

City Manager David Mackie said that the pro­posed feeding ban was a way to prompt dis­cussion on the issue. Stockford said he was glad it was on the agenda as the edu­ca­tional infor­mation pre­sented was helpful in deter­mining how to deal with the problem.

“I don’t see how we can leg­islate a problem like this away. We need to help people be more con­scious of the issue,” Stockford said.

Other council members agreed that intro­ducing TNR edu­cation was the best way to curb the problem. Coun­cilmember William Mor­risey recalled when he worked on a spay and neuter bill for a state senator in New Jersey.

“I have some expe­rience with this,” Mor­risey said. “They can trap cats and have them spayed or neuter. There are problems with feral cats, but we don’t want our police officers chasing down cats.”

The dis­cussion ended without any leg­islative action taking place. The council agreed that edu­cation of the public would help with the feral cat issue in the long term. 

City Council meetings take place the first and third Monday of each month.