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Fourth-grader asks council for change in ordinance

Lily Parker, a fourth-grade student at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary, made her case to the Wadena City Council Tuesday evening for a poultry operation within the city limits. Lily was backed up by her father, Matt. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal

No formal action was taken - but a lot of smiles were passed - when a well-dressed young lady addressed the Wadena City Council and its city department heads Tuesday evening.

Lily Parker was all business as she took her place in front of the guest podium and made her case for a poultry operation inside city limits.

"I wonder if you would consider changing a city ordinance about the chicken farms?" Parker asked.

The Wadena-Deer Creek fourth grader fearlessly pointed out that many other Minnesota communities currently allow poultry within their city limits.

In a letter she composed for the council, Parker also made the point that a chicken' cluck (less than seven decibels )is not as noisy as dog's bark can be (more than 95 decibels).

She had a couple more facts to throw at the council as well - that chickens eat bugs and their droppings provide a very rich fertilizer.

Parker belongs to the Leaf River Builders 4-H Club and through a farm friend she was able to lease a chicken and show it at the Wadena County Fair last summer.

"She really took a liking to chickens," said her father, Matt, who is employed by Freshwater Education. The family lives near Sunnybrook Park in Wadena.

After making up her mind about what she wanted, Lily did her homework about chickens.

"She dug into it, and she learned tons about chickens and that they can be pretty good pets," Matt said. "It turns out there are a group of chicken lovers out there."

The experience of speaking to a roomful of city leaders for Lily was difficult according to her father.

"That was a very nerve-wracking experience for her," said Matt, who was extremely proud of the courage and resolve his daughter showed.

Matt's contribution to clearing the way for Lily's visit to Tuesday's council meeting was finding the phone number of Wadena Mayor George Deiss in the book so the Parkers could address the council. Lily actually made the call.

"We told her 'this whole project is something you want Lily, it is not something that we want," Matt said, adding that his daughter is only interested in laying hens.

"No roosters," said Lily's father.

Mayor George Deiss was impressed with the poise the fourth-grader showed.

"I think she did a very good job of presenting, and now we will go from here," Deiss said.

Deiss said that if the council feels the request warrants further action the most likely course will be to appoint a committee and put it on the agenda.

The ordinance Parker would like to see changed is covered by city bylaws pertaining to animals and fowl. The only exception is farm animals kept in that portion of the city zoned to permit agricultural purposes.