MANTENO — Village officials say Manteno’s animal control officer cares for animals, going the extra mile to get his job done.
But the officer, Gary Baughan, revealed at last week’s village board meeting that there was one animal he didn’t particularly care for — snakes.
Luckily, he rarely deals with them.
Baughan was honored at last week’s board meeting for his service to the public. He marks 20 years this month.
“He is probably our hardest-working employee. He is retired from his main job and works maximum hours at animal control, and he is one of our hardest-working park rangers,” Police Chief Al Swinford told the board. “He takes a huge load off the police department. He really, really cares about animals. You can tell.”
The chief also said Baughan has been known to take money out of his pocket to help people with their animal issues.
On a lighter note, Swinford said Baughan single-handedly handled the coyote problem.
“I haven’t seen a coyote in a long time. I’m guessing he took care of that,” the chief said.
Asked to speak, Baughan said he would be unable to do his job without the support of police and other village employees.
Mayor Tim Nugent called Manteno’s animal control the “envy of the county.”
Added Trustee Diane Dole, “He always has the cleanest car.”
Baughan was then asked about the “weirdest” animal he has picked up.
He said he and a police officer once had to take a gutter off a house and run a garden hose through it to remove a 5-foot bull snake.
“I don’t like snakes,” he told the board. “If you are not a snake person, which I am not, sometimes you have to step up to do what you have to do.”
Nugent later said Baughan works for the village on a contractual basis.
“We have a vehicle assigned to him, an old squad car,” the mayor said. “He works day and night. He does a great job.”
If you see police officers storming an apartment building in central Manteno on the morning of Aug. 19, you can rest assured: It’s just a drill. A countywide SWAT team will undergo training at the building on North Walnut Street, next to the Square on Second.
That afternoon, a crew will start demolishing the building.
The village acquired the structure because it wants to make room for the Square on Second, an increasingly popular attraction in the village.
“With the square’s success, we thought it was an opportune time to acquire it. The longer we wait, the more valuable it would get,” Nugent said in an interview.
He said the village wants to let police officers and firefighters have training inside village buildings set for demolition.