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County panel: Build new animal shelter ‘as quick as we can’

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County commissioners want to expedite plans to build a new animal shelter that would more than triple the current shelter’s capacity for stray dogs and cats.

On Tuesday, the county’s Animal Enforcement Committee met to discuss updating the current rendition of the new animal shelter, seeking new cost estimates and looking at a potential site.

Wilson County Manager Denise Stinagle showed the committee a rendering of what the new animal shelter could possibly look like. The county had enlisted a construction company to provide that rendering in 2016. Stinagle, Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard and staff worked together on those potential plans as a starting point, she said, after commissioners began setting aside funds for the new shelter in 2015.

Stinagle said the next phase would be to go back to the construction company for more detailed plans and finalize numbers on how much the new shelter would cost. At one time, officials projected a $650,000 price tag.

The county collects an average of $120,000 in animal privilege fees a year. Commissioners have been setting aside at least $70,000 for the last three years in a capital reserve fund for the new animal shelter. Right now, the county has roughly $330,000 in that fund.

Committee Chairman Roger Lucas said he wanted to expedite the next steps in the planning and construction process, to which other commissioners in attendance agreed.

“That’s what I really want to see,” he said. “Move on this thing just as quick as we can. Let’s get a firm drawing and get some estimates on what we think it’s going to cost and put it out for bid.”

Stinagle told the committee a potential site for the new shelter is on N.C. 42 East near the Wilson County Solid Waste Services facility. Stinagle said the site is about a mile from the city of Wilson’s operations center and about two miles from Wilson Community College. She said it’s an accessible area and the county owns the land.

Woodard also provided the committee with an update on several items pertaining to animal enforcement. Several animal advocates also attended Tuesday and spoke with officials after the meeting.