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$225,000 animal shelter donation

Commissioners recently accepted an offer of at least $225,000 from longtime Pike resident Walker Chandler through the CLC Foundation to put toward the construction of an animal shelter for the county. The CLC Foundation was established by Dr. C.L. Chandler Jr. and is controlled by his living children and step-children, including Walker Chandler. The decision to accept the donation was made after much research, discussion and consideration. The animal control facility will be built on the land where the existing facility is now. Interim county manager Rob Morton said the building already there will be moved but the animal compound area will be used for the new building since concrete was already poured for a pad and a grassy area established for the dogs. Commissioner Tim Daniel said people move to Pike expecting certain services with Animal Control being one of those services. ’Pike County still has a primitive form of animal control and at some point we are going to have to provide this service so why not take this donation and get ahead of the game,’ he said. Interim county manager Rob Morton said that he, animal control officer Tanya Perkins, Brandon Rogers of Pike’s public works and commission chairman Briar Johnson toured the Lamar and Upson animal shelter facilities and obtained information about the structure as well as costs of ongoing operations. He said the building will be similar to the storage facility building that was just built in front of Public Works. Morton said Rogers is confident the county can come close to completing Phase I of a proposed animal shelter facility with the funds donated. He said there are a few things that may need to be completed in Phase 2, including adding an incinerator. ’Based on the tours and discussions of the animal control facilities, it seems like this is a viable operation,’ said Morton. ‘The problem is the cost of ongoing operations. The low end cost of operations is in Lamar County at $100,000 to $125,000 in annual operating costs and they basically have an individual employee that is a specialized Code Enforcement Officer to handle all issues. The high end cost is in Upson County at $253,000 in annual operating costs and they have five employees. Meriwether County was at $163,000 in annual operating cost which is funded and budgeted by the commissioners,’ said Morton. Right now Pike County spends around $60,000 for annual operations and that includes one employee. Morton said Pike County needs at least one and a half employees and will eventually need two full time employees and one part time employee. He noted that the county’s animal control officer has already gone for two years without a day off. He said adding a part time or full time employee can be considered in February at the county’s budget workshop. Commissioner Tim Guy said if the county can get the building built for the cost listed, then we need to move forward with it. Guy said the county can continue to operate with one full time employee until another is needed, adding that Perkins probably does a lot more that what he sees. He said the numbers on the cost of the facility look great and he expressed surprise that a building of that size can be built for that cost. Morton noted that the number one criteria noted in the donation offer that would be of concern is the creation of an Animal Control Board with representation from a variety of aspects from the community. According to O.C.G.A. 4-8-22, the Animal Control Board should consist of representatives from the municipalities, as well as a county representative and a veterinarian. Morton noted he spoke with the donors and the proposed plans the Commissioners have in their packets will satisfy the conditions placed on the donation. Morton said the donation could be supplemented in years to come but is not guaranteed. In a letter issued to commissioners, Chandler outlined stipulations to be agreed upon and stated that the funds could be used for new construction or substantial renovations of existing facilities to be used as an animal shelter for at least the next 20 years. ’In establishing the Foundation, Dr. Chandler expressly provided that the foundation could support animal-care organizations. In making any and all gifts and donations, each board member is charged with the fiduciary responsibility of making sure the foundations’ gift is not wasted, misspent or otherwise misused intentionally or unintentionally. I must make as sure as I can that any contribution made at my direction will result in a substantial facility that is well-run and does not fall into neglect, ruin and disuse, nor be the subject of personal gain or back-door politics,’ read the letter from Chandler, in part. The county was required to have an initial comprehensive plan drawn up and presented to Chandler by Oct. 15 with the land and architectural plans for the proposed facility as well as the ownership, operations and control issues relating to the facility. The letter suggested the current property on County Farm Road be expanded. ’I realize the total cost of such a facility could be much more than the $225,000 to be donated; therefore a plan for making up any balance needs to be addressed,’ the letter stipulates. ‘I am aware that the shelter will in all probability need to be one that allows euthanasia and therefore will not set that it be a designated ‘˜no-kill’ shelter. The shelter will, of course, be expected to be one where adoptions are facilitated.’ No less than $225,000 would be contributed by the CLC Foundation on or before Dec. 31 if the stipulations are met. In the past, one of the foundation’s major gifts went to Zoo Atlanta and resulted in a portion of new construction being named after Winnie Jones Chandler, Dr. Chandler’s second wife and the mother of three of the foundation’s board members. The Foundation authorizes a board member to be chosen by sequential rotation to make a major gift substantially equal to half of the entire annual donations of the foundation as determined by its accountants and portfolio managers. Pike County’s long time resident Walker Chandler is the board member chosen for the upcoming major charitable gift.

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