County's decision has Gloucester man fenced in

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by Janet Roach

WVEC.com

Posted on October 4, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:29 PM

GLOUCESTER -- Gary Adams has four playful Labrador retrievers.

Adams, a disabled Vietnam vet who walks with a cane, cannot chase his dogs.  His underground electronic fence was the best way to keep them in the yard until it broke.

He blames county public utilities crews for the damage and wants the county to pay to fix it.

Crews dug up part of Adams' yard to replace the tap after he discovered dirt in his tap water.  They had trouble finding the tap, so they expanded the digging area.

The underground wire controlling the fence was in the expanded area; so was a broken wire from a fence Adams installed several years ago.

"What I figured is they did was they came across the broken wire, like that piece over there, and they thought they had broken it and spliced it, thinking, ‘oh we'll fix it by splicing it together’ and once they did that, it ruined the whole system," Adam says, noting the repair actually broke the electronic fence.

Adams wants the county to pay the repair bill, estimated by a fence company to run $831.00.

"When you're retired and disabled, on a fixed income, that's a really big issue to me," Adams states.

The county isn't paying. Director of Public Utilities Martin Schlesinger says Adams should have informed the crews of the underground wire.  He also states Adams was present when the digging took place.

County Attorney Ted Wilmot says the county has no legal obligation to pay.  In an e-mail to Adams, Wilmot writes, "According to the installation crew, they were not informed of any underground wiring in the area prior to the work. And, unfortunately, even if they had been informed, and even if the work somehow disturbed the wires (which is not apparent), the right-of-way allows for the County to work within it. I am sorry that you are experiencing difficulties."

Adams has contacted an attorney but fired off one more email requesting help from the county. He said, in part, "But, sir, it is clear this was the fault of the county.  The fence was far outside the original area intended for excavation. If I had known there was a problem in not being to locate the water main and that further digging was required, I would have informed the crew of the placement of the wire."

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