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County one step closer to new animal facility

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County recently took another step forward in the quest for a new animal control facility, which would be located on Highway 173 North. The new facility would replace the barebones one currently in use on Highway 16 North near Mansfield Park.

During the Thursday, June 14, meeting of commissioners court, Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris discussed his progress on the project. In response to advertisements for Request for Qualifications for Architectural Services, he said he had received proposals from five architects for construction of the new animal control facility.

Harris asked the court's approval to enter into what he described as a "pre-bid conference" with the respondents. At that time, everyone would receive specifications, conceptual drawings and other information necessary to construct a viable, yet economical, facility. "That way everyone will be on the same page as to how the work will proceed," he told the court.

To keep the facility within the agreed upon budget of $225,000, Harris reiterated that the county would purchase a large metal building separately. "Those specs will go out for bid separately," he said. The architect and builder would then be responsible for constructing both a concrete slab and the previously purchased building.

In budget discussions for fiscal year 2011-2012, commissioners had unanimously approved earmarking the $225,000 amount for the proposed facility. Harris believed that with some judicious cost-cutting, the sum would prove sufficient for a satisfactory shelter.

"With the money we've budgeted, we can build a decent, efficient and good-looking facility to take care of the animals in Bandera County," Harris said in an earlier interview.

According to Harris, during the pre-conference, all interested architects would receive the same information. They will then formulate their bids and appear before commissioners at a later date.

Harris, it seemed, believed himself caught in kind of a Catch-22. "We can't get the short list until we see the prices," Harris said. "We won't know if we can afford it before we get the bids. I'm asking the court for permission to put a package together to give to the qualified architects."

To clarify, Evans asked, "So after you talk to the architects, you'll put the item back on the agenda and have the them make a presentation before the court?"

"Yes, after I provide them with specs for the cope of the project," Harris said. He added that he would get the necessary information to all the architects within two weeks. "Just to be on the safe side, we should have the item back on the agenda by the July 26 meeting."

Barring anything unforeseen, at that time, the architects will offer individual presentations on the new animal control facility and the court will make a selection. If necessary, the court will query them and then make a decision - hopefully in open session - on that date.

Harris was pleased with the architects who responded to the RFQ.

"Four out of the five worked for surrounding counties," he said, "and several have worked on animal shelters."

Concurring, Evans said, "These were very good applicants. People are hungry out there."

Harris' proposed animal facility includes 48 kennels with 10 additional ones for quarantine, as well as two catteries. The kennels, along with offices and medical rooms, would be included under one roof. The new animal control facility will be constructed behind the parking lot for the sheriff's office and jail.