At its regular monthly meeting Monday night, the Anson County Board of Commissioners agreed to move forward with plans to operate and fully staff a new animal shelter.
Commission Chair Anna Baucom requested that the item be added to the September agenda, and said repeatedly that stray animals within the county are becoming an increasing problem. County Manager Lawrence Gatewood stated that he’s done some research, and currently, Anson is the only county in the region without an active animal control program.
The county’s animal shelter is open only a few hours a week, and there is only one animal control officer on staff, who cannot handle the overwhelming workload.
“We have formed an animal shelter planning team,” Gatewood said, “and we want to build or create an animal shelter with an annual budget of $250,000, that will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Gatewood said he plans to include all of the communities within the county to make sure everyone is served. Also, he said the county needs at least two animal control officers, as well as a team of volunteers to help staff the shelter.
Interim health department director Carol Ann Gibson said that currently, the euthanization rate for animals picked up by animal control is 96 percent. Gatewood said he’d like to bring that euthanization rate down to below 10 percent, and work with rescues to place animals in homes, rather than destroying them.
He plans to meet with the animal control planning team several more times before the next commissioners meeting. Gatewood will give an update at the October meeting, followed by a formal recommendation at the November meeting.
Monday night’s meeting also featured a dinner provided by the Anson County Cooperative Extension Service and Extension’s annual “Report to the People.” Cooperative Extension staff members in the areas of horticulture/forestry, 4-H, livestock/row crops, local foods, poultry and 4-H Youth Promise each reported on “Why We Do What We Do.”
Sen. Gene McLaurin and Rep. Mark Brody were on hand for the Cooperative Extension report, and also attended a portion of the commissioners meeting held after the dinner. Once the commissioners opened their regular meeting, Chair Anna Baucom told the state lawmakers about plans for the county’s agri-civic center, which is expected to be a huge boon for the local economy. Baucom said she hopes that the state and federal governments will pitch in $2.5 million each, which the county would match dollar for dollar.
“I hope for it to be a cooperative effort between the county, state and federal government,” she said.
In other business at Monday night’s meeting:
- David Jones of Waste Connections presented Sheriff Tommy Allen with a $10,000 grant. (See details in related story on 1A.)
- The Lilesville fire chief and assistant fire chief appeared before the commissioners to ask for an amendment to the contract between the county and the fire department to reflect the department’s recent medium rescue certification. After some discussion, the commissioners approved the amendment unanimously.
- Board of Elections director Steve Adams expressed his thanks to the commissioners and County Manager Gatewood for the new facility on Morven Road.
- The commissioners unanimously approved rate increases for EMS and the Health Department. Acting health department director Gibson also gave the board a presentation from the Local Authority for Tobacco-Free Living. In addition, the board approved an employee plan for the health department, which will help the department earn its accreditation next month.
- Gatewood also reported on bids from local foresters for the county’s planned timber sale. A contract was awarded to Edward Johnson of Wadesboro, who will serve as forestry consultant on the project. Commissioner Bobby Sikes voted against Johnson, saying he would rather the county use forester Gary Gilreath of Wadesboro.
- Chair Baucom stated that 10 applications have been received for the county manager position. Gatewood plans to resign in December.
- Planning board appointments were postponed until next month, but the commissioners appointed Father Michael Bye and Commissioner Ross Streater to the Sandhills Board, and reappointed Johnny Townsend, Dr. Holly Kiker, Tommy Taylor, Dr. George Puryear, John Ballard, Elizabeth Ammons and Betty Russell to the Board of Health.
The commissioners will next meet at 6 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the Anson County Government Center.