By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON - Whether it's a dog doing its business in a neighbor's yard, queries about trick-or-treat hours or a question about how to start a small business, no concern is too small for Kenton County's new ombudsman.
"The way I look at it, if somebody calls, it's my problem," said Scott Gunning, coordinator of the new Kenton County Cares program. "I've been frustrated myself when I've had to go to different agencies to get an answer to something."
During his first weeks on the job - from Sept. 22 to Oct. 31 - Gunning had 128 phone calls and e-mails. That excludes the 236 postcards that the 22-year-old Erlanger resident received from county residents lobbying for a local dog park - a fenced-in area where dogs can run.
All but three of the concerns were addressed within 24 hours, said Gunning, who's working toward a degree in criminal justice and political science at Northern Kentucky University on nights and weekends. No matter what the issue, he pledges to respond to a question or concern within 24 hours and monitor issues that take longer to resolve.
Gunning divides queries into five categories: requests for information, concerns and suggestions, expressions of support for a program, service requests and general complaints.
He said about half of his contacts have tried to resolve a problem elsewhere before turning to him.
For the woman who called him about a neighbor's dog that was creating a nuisance, Gunning mailed her copies of the Kenton County and Covington dog ordinances.
For another caller, Gunning helped track down a deceased grandfather's marriage records from 1913. When someone failed to get child support, he contacted the proper agency to have the offending party's wages garnished.
Gunning refers all legal queries to Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson. People who need help with rent, utilities or medicine are referred to the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission.
Sally Roebuck of Independence is pleased with the quick response she got.
"I'd had a car sitting in front of my house for three weeks that was a clunker," Roebuck said. "I called the police and asked them to check on it, but nothing happened."
Roebuck remembered a brochure she'd gotten in the mail with the Kenton County Cares number and called Gunning.
"He said he'd call the police to check on it, and a couple of hours later, the car was gone," she said. "He did a wonderful job."
Kenton County Cares program
For a question or complaint: Call (859) 392-1999; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out a customer service card from a county department.
Hours: Scott Gunning, Kenton County's new ombudsman, works 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. If Gunning is out of the office, his calls go to a voice mail system. In Gunning's absence, another county staff member will check his voice messages and e-mails and respond.
Ohio's power plants dirtiest
Smitherman win gives Charterites new oomph
Volunteers swarm polls in last-minute try for votes
Taft's stimulus proposal rejected
As Ky. governor, Fletcher vows to 'clean up mess'
N.Ky. key to victory for Fletcher
ELECTION 2003: HAMILTON COUNTY
Zoo's vote elephant-sized
North Bend votes to remain village
Two of three voters stayed home
Voters consider pace of growth
Activists lead for Loveland council
2 school levies approved
Delhi changes trustee lineup
Williams appears victor in Norwood
Polling places not always par for course
Voters keep school board
ELECTION 2003: OHIO, INDIANA
Crone likely to return to Fairfield school board
Moeller leads Hamilton race
Children Services levy OK'd
Outlook bleak for money for schools, except Lebanon
Outsider, insider win W. Clermont
Clermont County voters return incumbent judges
3 Clermont villages get new mayors
Clermont MRDD vote in dead heat
Clermont voting down growth projects
Early returns show Kings school board may change
New faces join Mason and Lebanon city councils
Speidel advances over Morand in Deerfield Twp. trustee race
Write-in Columbus mayor's only foe
'Yes' to casino
ELECTION 2003: KENTUCKY
Stumbo survives caustic campaign to become AG
Krey remains property valuator
City passes tax on autos
Few problems in state voting
State losses new for Democrats
Ambulance levy voted down in Bromley
State victory by Grayson, 31, gives N. Ky., GOP clout
IN THE TRISTATE
Babies, movies find harmony
Parents push for new ball fields
Roselawn man held on robbery charge
Priest took charity money
Man killed in Avondale parking lot
Restaurant plans hometown feel
Rare disease leaves teen in need of liver transplant
Warren balks at money request
Franklin merger to be studied
Howard: Good Things Happening
Stella Harper worked for civil rights causes
John Wesley Seay began service to church at 9
200 more prison guards not enough, union says
Record high to be just a memory
Bar owners sue to stop smoking ban
Kentucky News Briefs
Kenton go-to guy looks for solutions
Truancy charge in the past