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Foundation grant makes animal control facility ‘a go’

The Harrison County Community Foundation Monday night unanimously approved a grant of $130,000 toward the construction of an animal control facility, which brings the total available to $530,000.
‘That’s great news,’ said Commission chair J.R. Eckart yesterday morning. ‘We’re at the point we’ve got enough money to put final specifications together and start the project.’
The $130,000 will be added to the $300,000 approved earlier by the county council and an additional $100,000 the council has allowed from the sale of property adjacent to the county-owned site off Quarry Road.
Gloria Scott, chair of HEART humane society, was elated to learn the news.
‘It’s finally going to be a reality and everyone who has worked on this is to be thanked and applauded,’ Scott said. ‘It’s been needed so long in the county.
‘People won’t have to deal with the problems themselves anymore.’
The commissioners opened construction bids in early April, and will now take a close look to decide which is the best, considering all the alternatives to the base bid such as the cost of epoxy paint, a walk-in freezer, a garage, metal roof, reception counter, ‘guillotine’ door and site preparation. The engineer’s $513,000 estimate is now two years old and prices of materials since then have risen considerably.
A week after the bids were opened, the county council voted to allow the amount of money from the sale of the property to be taken from riverboat dollars instead of the county general fund. The income will be counted as miscellaneous income to offset property taxes.
With the Foundation’s decision Monday night to provide additional funds, it appears there are no more hurdles to jump on this project, which has been an issue at one time or another during the past 30 or so years.
‘It looks like it’s a go,’ said council council chair Gary Davis.
The funding won’t likely provide anything extra for equipment or supplies. For that reason, and because many people have said they would like to donate time, money or equipment, the commissioners are working on a way for that to happen, Eckart said.
‘I think that’s a great idea,’ Scott said. ‘I think (county officials) will be greatly surprised at the amount of people who would do that.
‘They are not real hard-core animal activists. They are people who genuinely care about animals and don’t want to see them mistreated.’
The council last year set the budget for animal control at $33,850, which includes $12,000 for half a year’s salary for a warden, $17,850 for supplies, $1,000 for training, and $3,000 for utilities. The council’s reasoning at budget setting time was that a facility, if constructed, wouldn’t be ready to open at least until mid-year, so funding for half a year was approved.
As of March 31, the Foundation had assets totaling more than $37 million, said Steve Gilliland, executive director of the Foundation.

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