Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Toilet Stories

The Columbia Basin Herald reports:

Golfers teed off about toilets
By David Cole
Herald staff writer

SOAP LAKE -- Rick Froebe erected a backyard "fence." It's not a white-picket fence.

Instead, it's made of seven old toilets, a few used bathtubs and some broken down water heaters.

He said it's to "keep the golfers out" of his yard.

Froebe's home, 832 Canterbury Road, is nestled along Lakeview Golf & Country Club near Soap Lake. He watches closely from his back porch as golfers negotiate
the green of the 354-yard, par-4 first hole.

"Choice real estate in Grant County," said Froebe, co-owner of Coulee Dam/Ephrata Plumbing.

On Monday, three scarecrow-like dummies sat on toilets and looked on as golfers finished their putts. The old commodes, bathtubs and water heaters first appeared on Halloween. The dummies came down for a few days, now they're back.

Froebe, who's owned the home for the previous 15 years, already had a backyard fence in place -- the chain-link version. He claims it's not enough to keep golfers and neighborhood cats from getting his dogs all riled up.

Froebe contends the dogs get excited enough to start barking as players drive their golf carts near the green, search for their balls, chat, chip and putt. Neighbors began complaining about the barking.

Gerald Coulter, representing the country club's nine-member board of directors, called the situation "completely ridiculous." That's the consensus of the board, Coulter said, following last week's meeting.

"I've had several people call that were upset with (the 'fence'). It's an eyesore," Coulter said. "I'm surprised the health department hasn't been out there because of the used toilets and water tanks. It's not a sanitary condition."

Coulter, of Soap Lake, said Froebe is most likely trying to "alienate neighbors."

In the process, Froebe may also be attempting to upset members of the country club, he said.

A squabble Froebe had with course officials resulted in the 52-year-old plumber severing his membership in May. Froebe, as a member, complained that his plumbing-business partner had to pay to play. Froebe said the policy is unfair.

"I wouldn't recommend them," he said of the course and country club. "I wouldn't say anything bad. But you definitely have to go by their rules."

Meanwhile, the barking of Froebe's four dogs continued to be a nuisance to the neighbors. They repeatedly complained to the Grant County Sheriff's Office.

Froebe was warned by law enforcement officials at least three times, said Larry Ledeboer, the sheriff's animal control officer. Froebe was advised to take preventive measures and buy "bark collars," the officer said.

"The sheriff's office doesn't write a lot of barking infractions," Ledeboer said. The sheriff's office issues about 15-20 barking infractions per year. "We give warnings and try to work with people."

Froebe's dogs kept barking and the neighbors continued to complain.

To date, Froebe has received three barking infractions. A first-offense barking infraction is $47 per dog, Ledeboer said. The second offense is $95. A third offense is $190, he said.

Froebe said he recently went to Big 5 Sporting Goods and bought barking collars.

He insists the "fence" is not a sign of animosity towards his neighbors.

"If they would've come to me first that would have been one thing," Froebe said. He claims the situation could've been handled cooperatively. "But they went directly to the sheriff."

His dogs present another problem. According to the county's ordinance, he can't have four dogs on less than five acres of property.

When asked about the golf course, he insists hard feelings don't exist.

"The fence," he said, "It's plumber art."

Besides, he added, "It's not like this is Pebble Beach. This is Lakeview."

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