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Shelter panel talks with humane society

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

The panel reviewing the McCracken County Animal Shelter discussed immediate needs of the current facility Monday and the possibility of renewing a past partnership.

The 12-member animal shelter task force met for the third time Monday afternoon to continue discussions of the shelter's future and the most responsible solution to ongoing problems. The group divided into committees - one to identify the immediate needs of the shelter and the other to research possible partnerships - at the previous meeting.

Lee King, chairman of the outside resources committee, said the group has been analyzing a long-term proposal from the McCracken County Humane Society. The plan, which would involve a partnership of the Humane Society and the county and city, would involve building a new "mega" shelter.

The committee then discussed the amount of disclosure necessary to provide a thorough analysis of all three options: remaining in the current facility, partnering with an organization or building a new complex.

City Manager Jeff Pederson said the key elements of the contact were still being discussed and negotiated and it would be too early to bring the details to the full task force. Several members, however, including Danny Everett, voiced some concerns with this procedure and asked for the group to give equal time to all options.

"Our task is to do what's best for the animals as well as be fiscally responsible," he said. "We can't make an informed decision until we have all the details."

Another committee member asked if other partnerships avenues had been pursued. Deputy Judge Executive Doug Harnice said Judge-Executive Van Newberry contacted surrounding counties within the past week regarding potential partnerships and received no interest.

The committee has held discussions with the Humane Society over the past week, but King said the group needed another two weeks to vet the proposal further. The committee could offer a recommendation at the next task force meeting, she said.

Diana Cruikshank, co-chairwoman of the immediate needs committee, listed critical repairs needed at the existing shelter and the estimated costs. The list included fixing faulty heating panels near the kennels.

Member George Pushard said the current set-up could present a danger and the two electrical panels should be completely rewired. Although rising temperatures make the use of portable heaters less essential for the immediate future, the remedy would also apply to large fans used to cool the area during the summer. A local electrician offered to donate the materials and part of the labor costs so the price would be under $200, he said.

Cruikshank also listed the need to build an additional area for kennels on the left side of the complex, including a concrete structure with a drainage system and overhang covering. MP Lawson Construction in Paducah offered to donate the labor so the only cost would be the concrete framing, priced between $1,800 and $2,000, she said.

The list of necessary items includes a new drainage system to allow the washing machine to drain outside, repairing the cat house with a permanent ceiling and resodding the exterior cat playground. She said the ceiling will cost about $200 and the resodding would likely be donated.

The complex also has cages in the cat habitat that are too small and illegal. Cruikshank said the group believes some of the canine kennels can be reworked in the spring for use in the feline habitat.

Less pressing needs include a new computer for the office, a new washer and dryer, new flooring in the cat area, repainting the floor in the office, and landscaping in the front yard. Harnice said he believed the county had already ordered a computer. Task force president Dr. Tim Davis told Cruikshank to lead a volunteer day to accomplish some of the minor repairs.

The task force voted unanimously to recommended the listed items and repairs to the county and Newberry. The immediate needs committee received the new task of vetting a preliminary proposal for a new building written by Davis and gathering estimates from contractors for the next meeting. Newberry estimated that a new 13,000 square-foot facility would cost about $1.1 million during a Fiscal Court workshop in February.

The full group will meet again at 4:30 p.m. March 31 at the road department building on Coleman Road.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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