Saturday, July 2, 2016

Tales of Animal Shelters, Donkeys, & Rats

There isn’t a single human being who’s not familiar with Murphy’s Law; yet some individuals…and some projects…seem to be constant targets of Murphy. The Irishman seems particularly to hate the new animal shelter.

At the end of 2012, citizens of Florence were promised that a new shelter was the top priority of the city council. Almost four years later, there’s still no shelter. There’s still not even any land purchased for the new facility unless it’s happened in the last week or so.

Just what are the problems? Are they monetary? Are they the result of a few misguided politicians? Are they just normal setbacks or major boondoggles?

Let’s look at them, not necessarily in chronological order:

* There’s a dispute as to the amount of funding the county will provide. Led by Commission Chair Dewey Mitchell, the Lauderdale commission is guilty of childish behavior and worse.

* There’s a constant discussion over how “luxurious” the shelter will be, over the square footage. Florence City Councilman Dave Smith behaves like a donkey.

* Sites are narrowed down, and a shovel ready location is almost a done deal, until Dave Smith steps in again. The new location is “racist” according to Smith who declares his district adjacent to the site to be “black.” (We’re sure Smith’s white constituents, many of whom have complained frequently about the councilman’s favoritism, were surprised to learn that.)

* A new site is found, but the owners are related to the city attorney. Discussions abound, but finally the county agrees to purchase the property. The city will pay 2/3 of the lease value to the county in some sort of payment arrangement.

* The site is deemed too large for the shelter; it has to be subdivided. More time is spent on surveys and all the legal folderol subdivision of property entails.

* Easements! The city must obtain easements on old water lines, etc. The county attorney Chris Smith blames the Florence Water/Sewer Department for more delays.

* The subdivision is promised to be completed by no later than the first week in July. (Anyone checked a calendar lately?) Then the new plats will be filed. Then, we suppose, the county is stuck with the excess land that the city doesn’t want to use. Or is the Musgrove family stuck with it? Does anyone plan to tell the public how that will work?

* Construction bids are scheduled to be requested in October. Will they be finalized by November? Late fall and early winter is such a conducive time to begin construction, isn’t it?

* As far as we know, the new shelter will still be built using a pod layout, but now it will be only 12,000 sq.ft., rather than the initial 17,000 proposed to accommodate the area’s unwanted animal population. At least the pod design can be added on to. If not, remember Mayor Mickey Haddock thinks the new hospital will last 30 years; perhaps we’ll get almost that much use out of the new shelter…the new three million dollar shelter (City taxpayers are funding 2/3 and county taxpayers the remaining 1/3).

Meanwhile, no one seems to be doing any upkeep to the old shelter on College Street. When Debbie Rappuhn was in charge of shelter volunteers, the facilities might not have been adequate in many ways, but they were always scrubbed, scraped, and painted. Have you looked at recent photos of the shelter?

In case anyone has any doubts, the problems with the new shelter are sure to be prime fodder for election debate. The third week in August will be here before you know it. Vote wisely.


Rats. Rats leaving a sinking ship. If there should be a trial, we’re going to try to negotiate the popcorn concession.

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