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Despite rumors, AC facility forging ahead

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Pictured: Photos by Judith Pannebaker
To save approximately 30 percent on the cost, the county purchased the metal building that will morph into the new animal control facility. The bid package for the metal building that went out mainly covered labor.

When complete, the new Bandera County Animal Control Facility will include 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.

Despite a busy schedule, Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris took time to debunk a couple of rumors that have apparently been kicked up about the new animal control facility currently under construction behind the jail and justice center on Highway 173 North.
He admitted that commissioners would need to appropriate more funds to complete the structure. "We're working from a budget that was passed three years ago," Harris explained. "Construction costs have increased since then." During a Thursday, April 17, interview, he was unable to give the exact total needed, but estimated it could be from $10,000 to $50,000. "Zane's going to crunch the numbers for me so I can have a good estimate to bring before the commissioners at a future meeting," Harris said.
Project manager Zane Everett had approached Harris and Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Wilkerson after the commissioners court meeting on Thursday, April 10, about the necessity for additional funding to finish out the 5,600 square foot metal building. Harris and Wilkerson are heading up the project.
"The original budget was $225,000 and even if we have to include another $50,000, that's a far cry from the $857,000 estimate from a construction firm in Florida," Harris said.
The remaining items that need additional funding include the office and interior kennels, electricity and plumbing. According to Wilkerson, the septic system is set for installation next week. "There's still money in the budget for that," Harris had said earlier. During a visit to the construction site, Wilkerson was busy fine tuning the final details on the electrical system with contractors.
"I couldn't have done this without Andy," Harris said, putting to rest rumors that Wilkerson had usurped the project. "With his background in construction, he's been a tremendous help on this deal."
Harris continued, "I have no problem discussing this project. It's all about transparency. If anyone has a question, all they have to do is call me."
Underscoring his colleague, Wilkerson added, "If you hear any rumors about this project, tell 'em to get in touch with me. I'll be more than happy to set anyone straight."
Not unexpectedly, 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. Instead, commissioners turned its operation over to the Bandera County Sheriff's Office. The court determined that the $20,000 of taxpayer money 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.
Additionally, after 11 drafts, 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.
Discussing the project at an earlier meeting of commissioners court, Harris said, "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."