OPP investigating threats to Puslinch councillors, staff

Puslinch councillor Dick Visser says the individual responsible for letters threatening per­sonal harm to councillors and township staff is “a real bully and a coward.”

He told the Advertiser personal threats started arriving almost a year ago at the township office and at the homes of councillors.

“There have been a lot of very malicious letters address­ed to council,” Visser said. “There’s some nutcase out there somewhere.”

He explained the alleged targets of the letters – all five members of council and Clerk Brenda Law – at first shrugged off the threats, attributing them to “bluff and blunder.”

But recently the letters have gotten more serious.

“Things seem to be escalating,” Mayor Brad Whitcombe said on Tuesday. “It’s beyond unpleasant; it’s quite frightening, actually.”

Visser, for one, draws the line at the most recent letter sent to his home, which he said included death threats directed at not only himself, but also his wife and grandchildren.

“It talks about looking forward to many Visser funerals in 2010,” he said.  “And it says [the writer] can reach out and touch me at any time.”

Whitcombe said he has received letters with threats of “different degrees” and said just when it seems the letters have stopped, they start again.

Law agreed the subject matter of the letters, most of which arrive at the township office on Wellington Road 34 in Aberfoyle,  has become “more personal and threatening” in nature.

Visser said he met with a Wellington County OPP official this week.

Both he and Whitcombe are hopeful a pending meeting between the OPP and council, as well as possible tips from those in the community,  will help put an end to the disturbing letters.

OPP Constable Keith Robb confirmed the police are involved, but offered little information.

“The County of Welling­ton OPP Crime Unit is investigating a complaint at this time,” he said. “Because it is an ongoing investigation, I can not comment on it.”

Visser first talked about the threats several months ago at council, and again mentioned the letters at a council meeting last week.

Councillor Matthew Bul­mer agreed at the meeting that it is perhaps it is time to get more involvement from the police.

“It’s not right,” said Bulmer of the repeated threats.

Whitcombe admitted he has suspicions about what may have precipitated the letters, but he refused to speculate.

Visser, on the other hand, seemed confident about what started everything.

Visser and the mayor agree they will not let the threats affect their work on council.

“I always take it seriously … [but] I’m not going to let it deter me from doing my work to make Puslinch  better place to live,” Whitcombe said.

Visser suggested the author of the letters should come forward if he is so brave.

“I’m ready to meet him,” said Visser. “I’m not afraid of him.”