Oconee County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko told members of the county’s Animal Control Advisory Board last week that he expects to advertise this month for a feasibility study of improvements to or replacement of the county’s Animal Shelter.
Benko said he expected the county to open bids responding to the request for proposals in August and that the Board of Commissioners likely would award a contract at its meeting on Sept. 6.
The feasibility study will look at the current building, including its wiring and plumbing, the land on which it is built, and the surrounding land to see whether it is possible to add on or whether it will be necessary to build a new facility, either on that site or elsewhere in the county.
In other action at the meeting last week, the Board elected Tom Beacorn as chair, replacing Susan Wells, who will serve as vice chair, and Janet Calpin to continue as secretary.
South Of County
The Animal Shelter sits on just more than 6 acres at 2541 Macon Highway (U.S. 441) in the far south of the county.
According to the county’s tax records, the 1,680-square-foot building was constructed in 1980.
The one-story building is valued at $88,819 and the land is valued at $98,496.
The land is next door to the old county landfill and Heritage Park.
The staff of the Animal Control Department has long advocated for a new facility, and it has been joined more recently by at least some members of the Animal Control Advisory Board in making that case.
Many have argued that the facility should be more centrally located in the county.
Benko said the feasibility study would include an assessment of the soils at the site and examine the problem of flooding of the existing facility.
The submitted bids will be reviewed by a committee, according to Benko. Members of the Animal Control Board expressed interest in being involved in the evaluation.
Benko told the Advisory Board back in February that the county would not spend the estimated $10,000 for the feasibility study until it had collected sufficient revenue in the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which went into effect in October.
Once the county has completed the feasibility study it will begin the process of designing an expanded or new facility, Benko said.
Philip Freshley, newly appointed to the Advisory Board by the Board of Commissioners, introduced himself to his colleagues at the front of the meeting, saying he assumed he had been selected because he knew former Advisory Board member Mary Mahaffey.
In selecting Freshley, the BOC passed over eight other applicants, including several who have been very active as volunteers at the Animal Shelter.
Freshley and Mahaffey both live on Cedar Road in the far south of the county, near Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis.
Commissioner Mark Saxon said during a candidate forum this spring that the commissioners favor people they know when they make appointments to the various citizen committees.
The complete video of the July 13 meeting of the Advisory Board is below.
The meeting took place in the Community Center in Veterans Park.
Only four persons, plus Benko, were in the audience.