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County inches closer to new animal shelter

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Although steps so far have been incremental, Bandera County is inching closer to having a viable animal control facility, according to Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris.
During a special meeting on Thursday, Nov. 29, commissioners approved a $30,000 contract with Burns Architecture LLC for architectural services for the long-awaited construction of a new animal control facility.
"The agreement has been reviewed by the county attorney and he didn't make any changes," Harris told the court. "If this is executed today, the process can begin."
Acting on Harris' recommendation in November, commissioners unanimously selected Kenneth C. Burns, AIA, president of Burns Architecture, LLC of Fort Worth and Austin, as architect for the project. After his selection, Burns provided Harris with an updated floor plan. "He tweaked the plans for better ventilation and better use of the facility," Harris explained.
As point man on the project, Harris had interviewed representatives from four architectural firms for the project. However, Burns' proposed floor plan almost mirrored Harris' original concept. As Harris told the court earlier, "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. "Both were within our scope and concept." For this reason, he recommended hiring Burns Architecture LLC for the Bandera project.
The Lampasas Animal Shelter is a 6,678 square-foot building that includes administrative officers and kennel areas.
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 told the court in November.
"We don't win design awards because we always look out for county and taxpayers' money. Keeping everything simple saves money in the shelter's construction and operation," Burns continued, noting he was aware of budget constraints on the $225,000 project. "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.
The next step in the process is to have Burns complete bid documents for a metal building and for construction modification of the building. As a cost-cutting measure, the court had earlier approved purchasing a building and hiring a contractor to customize the interior and build a concrete slab. "On a $60,000 building, saving 20 percent in overhead would be a substantial savings to the taxpayers. We could build the kennels for $12,000 saved," Harris told commissioners.
Harris' concept includes 48 kennels with 10 additional ones for quarantine, as well as two catteries. Offices and medical rooms would also be included. The new animal control facility would be built on Highway 173 North near the jail and justice center, covering a 150- by 60-foot area.
If everything goes according to plans, groundbreaking will occur early next year. Approximately six months after that, Bandera County will have a new animal shelter to replace the current patchwork facility located on Highway 16 North.