Work done at new animal shelter

Published 8:27 am Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The long-awaited Washington Parish Animal Shelter is closer to becoming a reality.

Site clearance for yard fencing and site survey for drainage from the existing building on site began on Monday. Concrete blocks, which are stored on the site, will be used to construct the interior and exterior pens for dogs and cats. The facility will be built on parish government property on Yacc Road.

“We had $145,000 available for the animal shelter, but it’s a situation where the drawings cost $40,000,” Washington Parish President Richard Thomas said. “There was no money there, even with Northshore Technical Community College assistance. We had this building available.

“All the money from the state included the materials, but didn’t include labor costs. We have $80,000 left after the state decided it needed it to balance the budget. We’ve got $67,000 and hoping to add more.”

Thomas said an ideal situation is for the parish to operate the facility.

“We’re hoping to run the animal shelter,” he said. “We’re trying to find the funding to pay someone to operate it. Every penny has been accounted for. We’re trying to be as transparent as anybody can be.”

Thomas said taxpayers would be proud of the shelter upon completion.

“We’ve looked at other animal shelters in surrounding parishes and we think we’ll be able to have an animal shelter this year people can be proud of and not costing any tax dollars,” he said.

The 4,000 square foot building is scheduled to have a ventilated kennel area with 3-foot-by 6-foot concrete runs, sloped toward trench drains and piping leading to a waste water system. The plan is to house 20 dogs that could be doubled up in case of overcrowding. Cats will be housed in individual cages atop the waste water system.

Plans also call for a climate-controlled intake and exam room with services required for temporary housing for stray and abandoned small animals. A workroom is also proposed for food storage and preparation areas, general storage and bathing and grooming area. A janitor’s station is also proposed.

Work is also underway at a new parish government building addition. The addition will house administrative offices, and is being built at 909 Pearl St.

The Department of Public Works is responsible for clearing the site and relocating gas service. Also, bids have been let for construction of a new cell. Eagle Environmental is lead engineer.     

Public Works Director Leo Lucchesi said Choctaw Landfill has a new scale and the main gate to the facility has been widened.

In another matter, Thomas proclaimed Wednesday, Nov. 19 as Northshore Technical Community College 85th Anniversary Day. Northshore College and Career Transitions Coordinator Cynthia Smith accepted the proclamation for the school.

Regarding the Department of Transportation Development Road Transfer Program, DOTD will bid road improvements for Choctaw Road, north of Louisiana Highway 10 to Highway 436 and Dummyline Road from John Jones Road to Highway 1072. Bid date is Nov. 18.

Franklinton resident Virginia Corkern asked the council about Riverside Medical Center’s recent purchase of Community Health Center Clinic in Thomas for a reported $400,000.

“If the clinic doesn’t make a profit, we’re stuck with the bill,” Corkern said. “I’m concerned about it coming out of my checkbook and yours.”

Parish Council Chairman Mike Fussell said the council didn’t operate the Medical Center, but did appoint the commissioners. He suggested she contact Hospital Commissioner Lionel Jones for further information.

The council also introduced new Parish Transportation Manager Donnell Merritt. He has worked for the parish for 30 years, including the last 18 as road supervisor on the east side of the parish. He is replacing Lavell Gerald.

In agenda items, the council adopted:

• A resolution amending the 2015 annual operating budget for parish government. The beginning fund balance was $6,839,562, while the proposed ending fund balance is $7,320,373, a difference of $480,811.

• A resolution to adopt the Washington Parish Hazard Mitigation Plan 2015. This is standard procedure the state requires yearly.