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Waynesboro residents complain about rats

May 08, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Neighbors, claiming steps to rid rats from a Myrtle Avenue back yard have not come quickly enough, have started legal action against homeowner Nancy Funk and the borough of Waynesboro.

Waynesboro attorney Deborah Hoff and her husband, Charles Roberts, whose Clayton Avenue back yard runs alongside Funk's at 118 Myrtle Avenue, have filed a court document that notifies a person that a lawsuit could be filed. The document, called a writ of summons, was served on Funk on Tuesday.

"This is not something we can sit still for," said Hoff, adding that the legal action does not contain specific allegations. Hoff said the legal step is intended to bring "prompt action" to the situation.

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Neighbors claim Funk's back yard is teaming with rats that live in four large brush piles that have been there for years. They also claim Funk feeds the rodents, a charge she denies.

"They're attracted to the bird seed," Funk said. "This has really grown out of proportion."

Claiming she rarely goes into her back yard, Funk, who has lived in her home for 20 years, said she had no idea there were rats on her property until her daughter noticed them about two weeks ago. She said her daughter counted about 11 of them.

"I know nothing about rats. I'm completely ignorant of the situation," Funk said. "All of a sudden this has sprung up on me and I feel like I'm a victim."

Funk said she's spent over $1,000 for exterminators and has arranged for Cumberland Valley Tree Service Inc. to clear the brush piles.

"Everything is in the works to obey whatever the borough wants," she said, referring to a notice of a housing code violation issued by Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger on Monday.

Neighbors are worried primarily about health issues related not only to the rats, but how rat poison could effect neighborhood pets and wildlife.

"This is not something that sensible people let go on," said Monty Whitley, whose property sits behind Funk's. "She's in a neighborhood."

Although the overgrowth in Funk's back yard has been the source of contention among the neighbors for several years, nobody knew the rodents had moved in until last Monday, when Roberts was out gardening in his yard and detected movement next door.

When he moved closer for a better look, he discovered rats crawling all over Funk's back yard, Hoff said.

Roberts complained to Waynesboro officials. Hamberger said he responded "immediately" by issuing the notice and requiring Funk to hire an exterminator.

There's been no official count of the rats on the property, but Hamberger said "it's enough that we issued a notice."

"She's attempting to comply and progress is being made," Hamberger said.

A professional exterminator tried to trap the rats, but was unsuccessful, Hamberger said. Exterminators are now using poison to get rid of the rodents, he said.

Waynesboro Police Chief Glenn Phenicie said he sent one of his officers out Monday afternoon to shoot some of the rodents but was hindered by curious onlookers.

Hoff and neighbors Patricia Whitley and Holly Wheeler attended the Waynesboro Council meeting Wednesday night and asked for a progress report of the situation and a plan of action.

Because of the pending litigation, Council members were advised by borough Solicitor Lloyd Reichard not to comment.

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