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2012-11-01

Architect selected for new animal shelter

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County moved another step closer to the construction of a new, improved animal control facility during a Thursday, Oct. 25, meeting of commissioners court.
Acquiescing to a suggestion by Precinct 1 Commissioner Bobby Harris, commissioners unanimously selected Kenneth C. Burns, AIA, president of Burns Architecture, LLC of Fort Worth and Austin, as architect for the project.
As point man, Harris received six replies after soliciting statements of interest and qualifications for the project from architectural firms. "Four showed up for an hour and a half discussion where I presented the concept and underscored the scope and budget for the project," he said. "One participant, Kenny Burns, laid out a proposed floor plan and to my shock and amazement, it mirrored mine almost completely. And I know he hadn't had an opportunity to look at my drawing."
Previously, Burns' firm had constructed animal shelters in Lampasas and Aransas counties. "I contacted the county judges in those counties and visited the Lampasas facility, a joint city-county project," Harris continued. "It was within our scope and concept." For this reason, he recommended hiring Burns' architectural firm for the Bandera project.
The Lampasas Animal Shelter is a 6,678 square-foot building that includes administrative officers and kennel areas. Harris' concept also has a cattery.
Prior to voting, commissioners heard informal presentations from representatives of all four competing firms.
Burns, an architect for 32 years, said his firm focuses on county government facilities across the state, including jails, fire stations and animal shelters. "The Lampasas shelter is almost dead-on to what you want," he said.
"We don't win design awards because we always look out for the county and taxpayers' money. Keeping everything simple saves money in the shelter's construction and operation," Burns continued, noting he was fully aware of budget constraints. "We will work closely and diligently to keep within the range. It's workable, but we'll have to pull a few tricks out of our back pocket."
To a query from Judge Richard Evans, Burns noted that he would be personally involved in the project. "We know you want to see me (on the job)," he said.
"We just finished the jail and justice center and I still have some scars," Evans rejoined.
Representatives from Debra Dockery Architects of San Antonio said their firm had also worked with governmental agencies throughout the state.
"Is this a doable project at that budget?" Evans asked.
The representative answered, "Modifications may be in order when the budget is this tight. We'll work closely to prioritize needs." Another suggestion was to construct the shelter in phases.
According to Harris, his design concept allowed for future additions to the facility.
An architect for 22 years, Larry Connaly of Connaly Architects in Austin indicated he understood the parameters under which a facility of this sort must be constructed. Connaly said he would submit preliminary drawings and a plan review to regional veterinarian, Edward J. Wozniak, DVM, PhD, of the Health Service Region 8 Zoonosis Control Program in Uvalde.
For certification - the ultimate goal of Bandera's new animal control facility - components like quarantine pens, drainage issues and euthanasia sites must be in compliance with state statutes. "We tried to meet all mandated health regulations in this facility," Harris said. "Our intention is to get state compliance."
Connaly answered in the affirmative to a question about his ability to work with a tight budget. "A budget is what it is and state regulations are what they are," he said, adding, he would use creative options for pursuing the project.
Kerrville's Michael Neal Walker completed an animal control facility utilized by both Kerr County and the City of Kerrville. "That was also on a tight budget, so I can feel some of your pain," he quipped. "I'm very conscious of the cost and so are you." Because he had also constructed veterinary clinics and animal hospitals, Walker said he was familiar with both ends of the spectrum - both "wanted and unwanted animals." An architect for 3-plus years, he told commissions he has "hands on" during every project.
Concluding his presentation, Walker praised Harris for the extensive preliminary work he had done on the facility.
"I want to thank all the participating architects and I'm comfortable with all four, but my motion in favor of Mr. Burns stands," Harris said.
After the court approved his choice of architects, Harris said the next phase of the project would be to negotiate Burns' salary and then bring that information back to the court for discussion.
Burns' anticipated schedule is a 60-day design phase, followed by a 30-day bidding phase. He noted that construction should take 180 days.