Animal Shelter

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2008

Mayor will ask for update on animal shelter partnership

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey said Tuesday he plans to attend Monday’s meeting of the Panola County Board of Supervisors to determine the level of support the county will provide for constructing a humane shelter.

The city and county have proposed a joint venture to build and maintain an animal shelter. The city has allocated at least $200,000 for its part of the project. County supervisors have agreed to share in the cost of the project.

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“I got jumped Saturday,” Autrey said at the Tuesday, June 3 meeting of city officials.

“I can’t go out in public,” Ward 3 Alderman Stan Harrison said, referring to persistent questions from members of the Panola County Humane Society and others about when a new shelter will be completed.

Autrey has supported the construction of an animal shelter since his mayoral campaign during the spring of 2005.

“Have we got a full commitment from the county?” Autrey asked Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell.

“We have a very broad, general interlocal agreement,” Mitchell replied.

“It’s not going to be a problem from the county’s standpoint,” said County Administrator David Chandler when he was contacted on Thursday. “We have signed an interlocal agreement to participate.”

The county has also allocated its share of funding for the animal shelter in its present budget, Chandler said.

In February city officials met with funding consultant Demery Grubbs of Government Consultants to discuss options to finance and fund an animal shelter. Estimated costs of construction were $400,000. Annual operating costs have been estimated from $150,000 to $250,000.

In September, 2007, supervisors agreed to continue their collaboration in the project.

“Now we’re getting close,” the mayor told The Panolian in an interview for a story published Sept. 7, 2007. Tentative plans published at that time called for a 46-pen, 4,500 square foot facility on city-owned property on Highway 51 South next to Hoskins Plumbing. Other options that have been discussed include an inmate-built facility on county-owned property at the David M. Bryan Justice Complex on Highway 35.

The city currently maintains a dog pound just off Highway 6 East and employs full-time animal control officers to catch stray dogs. The structure is in a bad state of repair, Police Chief Tony Jones told aldermen Tuesday.

Problems with loose dogs recently surfaced in another Panola municipality. Como sculptor Sharon McConnell asked the town’s elected officials in May for help containing roaming dogs which threaten her seeing-eye dog during her walks in the town.