From the Commission President
For the Pocahontas County Commission, the new year begins with a new budget on July 1. As part of the annual budgeting process, there are a number of yearly contracts that must be revisited each spring in preparation for the coming year. For many years, one such contract has been for the sheltering, care, adoption and management of dogs and cats in Pocahontas County.
Over the past four years, we have had much conversation on the issue of animal welfare. Many citizens and several animal welfare groups have given countless hours toward improving the living and sheltering conditions of stray, neglected, and abandoned dogs and cats. Finding ways to fund the animal welfare effort in Pocahontas County is an on-going challenge. The Pocahontas County Humane Society relies heavily on donations, and they work hard with what they receive. Likewise, the Pocahontas County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals must raise funds to further their work. And for a number of years, Last Chance Animal Rescue in Durbin, under the leadership of Sandy Mallow, has managed to find homes for many dogs and cats, despite having little funding to work with.
To these organizations and concerned citizens, thank you for all you do, and for all you will continue to do. Like many of you, I believe the challenge of providing quality animal welfare should be a partnership between county government, our humane organizations, and our citizenry. In recent years, we have had moments of great collaboration, and yes, moments of great disagreement. Consequently, we have had to adapt in terms of shelter locations and management approaches. Yet along the way, each and all of you have had one and the same goal: to provide the best possible care for the animals.
As many of you have shared with us, I too believe that the key aspect to achieving this goal is to have a county-owned and county-operated animal shelter; one that operates in partnership with our animal organizations, citizenry, and indeed other resources such as our schools and our community corrections program.
The Hanover Shoe building in Marlinton is county-owned and is currently under lease with Allegheny Recreation Center (ARC). The ARC is owned and operated by John Fitzgerald and J.P. Duncan. A few years ago, John and J.P. repurposed the building for use as a community center, hosting concerts, flea markets, cakewalks and related activities. John and J.P. have also provided space for other small businesses to set up shop. They also, during their time as our contractor for animal control, built out a nice portion of the building for use as an animal shelter for dogs and cats, complete with runs and bathing/cleaning facilities for the animals.
This past year, due to several considerations not the least of which was limited funding, the County Commission contracted with Sandy Mallow to provide animal control and welfare services for the county. Sandy's long-standing experience in animal adoption and rescue efforts is second to none. And while her sheltering accommodations could match neither the quality of the Hanover building nor its convenient location, she worked hard with the funding we provided her to build out new pads and shelters. I personally visited on a number of occasions, and am very impressed with the improvements she made to her facilities and with her devotion to animal welfare. Sandy, thank you so much for all you do.
As we were considering what to do this coming 2012-2013 fiscal year for animal welfare for Pocahontas County, Sheriff David Jonese and ARC owner John Fitzgerald approached the Commission with a proposal to operate the animal shelter under the auspices of the Sheriff's department, with agreement from ARC for the County Commission use the animal shelter portion of the Hanover building forthwith for this purpose.
I was glad for this, as I see this as a step in the direction many are wishing to go. This will be the first time, to my knowledge, that animal control will be operated as a function of county government. I regard this as a major advance for all our efforts. As a county-operated facility, we as a community now have assurance that there will be predictability to the enterprise. We have a convenient location, a solid indoor structure, and the opportunity to work together, once again, toward more moments of great collaboration.
The Pocahontas County Commission serves you.
Sign up at www.PocahontasCountyCommission.com to receive agendas via email, and please contact us anytime with your questions, thoughts and concerns. I can be reached at 304-456-4016 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Commissioner Martin Saffer at 304-653-4418 or email@example.com, and Commissioner Jamie Walker at 304-799-0864. Our assistant, Sue Helton, can be reached at 304-799-6063 or shelton1@assessor .state.wv.us.
David M. Fleming, President
Pocahontas County Commission