Loudon extends Blount animal agreement
Joel Davis, of The Daily Times Staff   

The Loudon County Commission has granted Blount County more time to reach a long-term solution for dealing with stray animals.

The commission extended an agreement to accept local animals at the Loudon County Animal Shelter for $4,000 a month until June 30, 2009.

Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp said his commission approved the extension at its Dec. 1 meeting. Arp said that the Loudon commissioners, having been through a lengthy construction process for their own county shelter, were satisfied with the progress made by Blount County in building its own shelter.

"We've been there, done that," he said. "It's a tough thing when you're trying to raise private funds especially in these economic times. Our people came through, and we've got a real nice facility. We understand."

The estimated cost to build the Blount County Animal Shelter facility as designed is $1.6 million. The County Commission previously appropriated $430,000, which includes $80,000 raised by the SMACF and $350,000 in seed money that the commission authorized in 2007, that will allow the core of the facility to be built. The foundation has continued raising funds.

Blount County Commission Chairman Steve Samples, a member of the Blount County Animal Control Committee, said that the extension should give the county enough time to get the new animal shelter operational.

"Our hopes at this point are to have the first phase (of the animal shelter) done by February," Samples said. "I hope that will give us enough breathing room."

To save costs, the county's contract with Carico Construction Inc., the general contractor, did not include funds for purchasing kennel cages, finishing a bathroom at the facility, or other items need to make the building operational after the first of the year. The foundation is about $200,000 short of funding the difference.

Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves, current chairwoman of the Animal Control Committee, said she believes county residents will come forward with the funding.

"It's a difficult time of year ..., but I have total faith the county is going to make this happen, and people are going to put it over the top," Reeves said. "We'll get there."

The animal shelter is being built behind the Boys and Girls Club, 241 Currie Ave. Animal control has been a subject of controversy since the previous County Commission declined to continue funding a now-expired contract with Maryville for animal control services.

The estimated completion time for the core facilities of the shelter is 200 days, according to the contract between the county and general contractor Carico Construction Inc.