Every seat in the Commissioners’ Chambers was taken Monday night as the Richmond County Board of Commissioners voted to establish the animal shelter as a new county department under the jurisdiction of the Richmond County Health Department, while allowing the Humane Society to continue assisting with adoptions, rescues and fund raising.
County Manager Rick Sago lead the presentation.
“The Health Department and I have been meeting with the Humane Society Board of several months, trying to come up with a solution to the conditions and efficiency of the animal shelter that is currently being operated by the Richmond County Humane Society,” said Sago. “Both sides have come to an agreement that it would be better for Richmond County to take over shelter operations while still continuing to include the Humane Society in assisting the county with adoptions, rescues, funding, etc.”
Sago said the discussions began in October 2012, and although the Humane Society has “done everything they (could) or intended to,” that this latest move is “a win-win situation.” The discussion that began last year between the Humane Society and the county manager centered around financial struggle on the Humane Society’s behalf, and an inability to keep the building up to code. The Humane Society Board and Sago discussed turning the shelter over to the county for several months before coming to this agreement.
“This will allow the county to operate the day to day shelter business, while it will let the Humane Society concentrate on Humane Society functions instead of trying to manage and operate the building by itself,” said Sago. “We are not faulting anyone for what happened down there. It’s a big building to maintain. This will take effect May 1.”
Sago said the building will require several months of work before it will be up to code, and a full-time shelter director will be hired, a job that residents and current shelter staff are able to apply for. He said there is no animosity between the county and the Humane Society.
“We want the Humane Society involved, we just don’t want them to have to worry about the building,” said Sago.
Judy Cagle, member of the Humane Society Board, was given the chance to speak on behalf of the Humane Society at Monday’s commissioners’ meeting.
“We would like to thank all the citizens of Richmond County who have supported our efforts to provide a facility for our animal friends with their donations of money, food, supplies, time and energy,” said Cagle. “We would also like to thank the county and the City of Rockingham for their unfailing financial support. We can no longer operate the shelter as HSRC due to rising costs, the increase in numbers of unwanted animals and decreases in donations due to the economy. As we are preparing to accept the county’s offer to maintain and operate the shelter, we are confident that the shelter will be operated humanely and that efforts will be made to continue returning animals to owners who show proper ID such as microchips and vet records.
“County management, including Rick Sago, Tommy Jarrell and Holly Haire have demonstrated their awareness of the necessity of animal rescue, the early teachings of kindness and respect for animals and the benefits of spay and neuter. The Humane Society will remain a viable part of the county operated shelter by hosting adopt-a-thons and rescues. We will continue to rely on the continued generosity of the public in order to accomplish our goals,” Cagle said.
In other matters Monday, the County Board:
• Saw a presentation by Dale McInnis and Kenneth Robinette, co-chairs of the Vision 2020 Plan, for which the study phase was completed in January.
• Heard a presentation by Sandhills Farm to Table Founder Fenton Wilkinson on the “Sandhills Farm to Institution Food Hub,” which is conducting a feasibility study to determine the logistics of creating a food hub that would allow local farmers to sell produce to local institutions such as schools and hospitals within Richmond, Moore and Lee counties.
• Received an update from Paige Burns on the USDA Rural Development “Stronger Economics Together” program.
• Approved a request by Tax Administrator Vagas Jackson to hear 2013 tax appeals, as well as a request to approve a resolution to confirm postponement of revaluation of real property from 2014 to 2016.
• Got an update from Sago about the status of Stroman Road in Marston, which has been blocked off since the widening of Highway U.S. 1. NCDOT determined the dirt road which many residents use does not meet the criteria to become a secondary road.
• Agreed to donate surplus county vehicles to the Richmond County Rescue Squad, Inc. and to Ellerbe Rescue Squad, Inc.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.