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Commishes green light new AC shelter

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County Commissioners gave the green light to begin site preparations and go out for bids for a new animal control facility that has been waiting patiently in the wings since 2008. Both related aspects of the project were approved unanimously on Thursday, July 25. The shelter will be constructed on Highway 173 North, in close proximity to the jail and justice center and road and bridge facility.

During an hours-long confab two weeks ago, Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris, who, along with Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Wilkerson, is spearheading the project, met with architect Ken Burns and construction manager-agent Zane Everett, to iron out details of the various bid packets. On Thursday, July 25, Harris asked the court to approve the eight bid packets and authorize the county road and bridge department to begin preparing the footprint of the 5,600 square foot facility.

To squeeze every penny out of the $200,000 budget, the county will do as much work as possible in-house. For example, in the bid package for the site utilities work, which includes water lines, electricity and gas hookups, county crews will do all trenching, excavation and backfill work.

Regarding the septic system package, the one thing that the county does not want is an aerobic system. "Kendall County installed one in their animal control facility and it's apparently not working," Wilkerson said.

According to Wikipedia, unlike traditional septic systems, aerobic treatment systems produce a high quality secondary effluent, which can be sterilized and used for surface irrigation. This allows much greater flexibility in the placement of the leach field, as well as cutting the required size of the leach field by as much as half.

To save money on concrete work, curbs will be deleted at the building perimeter and below cages in the cattery. In addition, the county will purchase the concrete.

"The county will also purchase the metal building at a savings of 30 percent," Harris said. The bid package for the metal building mainly covers labor.

Other bid packages include masonry, electrical, plumbing and overhead door work, which the county will also purchase. Additionally, included in all the bid packets is an invitation to bidders to offer cost-saving solutions.

Road and Bridge Superintendent John Andrade assured commissioners that his workers could assist with the construction of the shelter without interference in their regular duties.

"If an emergency comes up, we'll have to do that first," Andrade told the court. "It could slow us down."

"We won't take you away from your regular duties," said Judge Richard Evans.

"Just let us know when you're ready, John, 'cause we're ready," Harris said. "Believe it or not, it will rain again and if we don't get that base put in, we'll be stuck in mud," Harris said.

The road to the new animal control facility has been long and winding. In 2008, the county terminated its contract with a private dog rescue organization that had been managing the shelter on Highway 16 North. Commissioners then determined that $20,000 of taxpayer money previously paid annually to the rescue organization would instead be earmarked for construction of a new county animal control facility.

At that same time, Catherine Tull, DVM, MPH, then program manager for Texas Department of State Health Services, Region 8 Zoonosis Control deemed the shelter to be non-compliant with state regulations because the slapdash facility "did not have the structural foundation needed to properly handle animal waste," among other problems.

After Bandera County Sheriff's Office took over animal control duties, former animal control liaison Jennifer Gaertner faced community resistance. She said, "The rumor I would like to put to rest is that the county is only holding animals for three days before euthanizing them," noting, "That is simply untrue."
She continued, "We are not automatically euthanizing animals after a holding period. We want to impress upon residents that the county is taking care of stray and abandoned animals in a professional and compassionate manner."

Additionally, after 11 drafts, Bandera County Commissioners unanimously approved a new rabies and animal control order during a meeting in April 2009. The idea of constructing a new shelter then languished for several years.

During a special meeting on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, commissioners approved a $30,000 contract with Ken Burns of Burns Architecture LLC for architectural services for the long-awaited construction of a new animal control facility.

On Thursday, June 13, commissioners unanimously selected Zane Everett as a construction manager-agent to spearhead the shelter.

At the last meeting of commissioners court, Harris thanked Wilkerson for his assistance on the project, saying, "Andy, you've been a big help. I could have used you two years ago."

Harris continued, "This will be a beautiful efficient facility with an increased capacity without an increased budget. It's an important project for the taxpayers. I can't wait to put the first animals in this facility."

According to Harris, the facility will have 48 kennels with an additional six for quarantine, but will be capable of housing 74 dogs. The facility will also include two catteries, an office for the animal control liaison and storage space.

Pictured: Construction manager-agent Zane Everett will send out bid packets for construction of the Bandera County Animal Control Facility on the site of the jail and justice center and the road and bridge facility.