By Ashley Rader
The Elizabethton Carter County Animal Shelter Advisory Committee discussed the future of the animal shelter project and the need to restart the search for a project manager.
Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey gave the committee an update on the progress of hiring a contract manager for the animal shelter project. He said a contract was presented for approval by the County Commission during their last meeting.
The position had been discussed with the individual they had planned to hire and he was ready to start work once the contract was approved. The contract was reviewed by the Elizabethton city manager and the Elizabethton attorney. The contract was approved by the Elizabethton City Council but Humphrey noted that the County Commission denied the contract with concerns that the pay listed in the contract was too high.
A new motion was made to advertise the position so the committee could accept and review resumes to select a new construction manager. Humphrey said the goal was to have the search completed with an individual in mind to hire by the July County Commission meeting so they could vote for approval. He noted that the commission did not set any parameters for what they would like from the search but left it up to the advisory committee to select a new contract manager.
Committee member John Bland asked if they really needed to have a full-time project manager at the shelter building site. Humphrey recommended a full-time person because there would be many different things going on at the site once construction begins.
Committee Chairman Mike Barnett commented that until a construction manager is hired the shelter project cannot move forward. He noted that with the delays the project was experiencing he was not sure how long the project would actually take once it was started. He noted that the project will rely heavily on inmate labor and cooperation from the weather.
Humphrey said the scheduling for the inmates had stayed the same from when the building committee had originally planned to have them start. He noted the earliest that inmates will be available remains mid-August. He also expressed some concern that they may have missed the optimum window for construction because of the additional delays. The original plan was to have construction completed in less than 12 months.
Committee member Bill Armstrong, who is also a county commissioner, said the reason behind the commission’s denial of the contract was that some commissioners remain concerned that the salary was too high and that it would go over budget.
“They are really concerned with the budgets right now,” Armstrong said.
Humphrey said architect Joey White still believes the project can be completed under budget and on time since they will be using the inmate work crews.
The committee also revisited the recent issue of Hokie, a six-month-old golden retriever, that was adopted from the shelter just a short time before his original family came looking for him. He was adopted and neutered by his new owner. The original owner, Kimberly Clark, and her daughter Mirandy White, petitioned the county mayor to have the dog returned to them. Both Shelter Director April Jones and Humphrey asked if the new owner would like to return the dog to which he replied he would think about it. He did decide to return the dog to its original family and Clark and Hokie were reunited.
Clark and White are now volunteering and assisting the shelter with supplies and sharing photos and news of the animals that are available at the shelter. Clark attended the meeting and expressed her displeasure with how the situation was originally handled. She said policies and procedures could be changed to make it easier for pet owners to alert shelter staff that their pet was in the shelter after closing hours and to reunite lost pets with their families.
Humphrey said that the committee would be working on reviewing policies and that this was the first time the shelter had ever had an onsite director that could handle these kinds of issues. He said as far as he was concerned the situation had a happy ending for everyone because Hokie was reunited with his original owners.
Jones gave her monthly report and told the committee that the fencing in the kennels had been repaired by Sam Crowder with J&S Fencing. She said he donated enough supplies to add an additional kennel to the back run which brings the total number of kennels up to 25.