The intake facet of the new Blount County Animal Care Center on Curry Avenue should open on Monday, Nov. 2, Mayor Jerry Cunningham said.
The county mayor said more gravel needs to put down around the outside of the facility and leveling need to be done, but what is most troubling, said the mayor, are some mistakes made in the concrete floors inside.
“We got a terrible job on the concrete pour,” said Cunningham. “There are cracks everywhere inside. It’s totally unsatisfactory. so we’re having to caulk and rework a lot of those cracks. I look at the floor and get mad. There are no expansion joints. Someone was asleep at the wheel. We’ve got to correct all that.”
Furniture and office equipment recently was moved into the facility and phones and computers also were installed. “Some of it was donated, some of it was surplus furniture and for some, we went to UT where they sell surplus stuff they were not using anymore. We have begged, borrowed and bought, but we haven’t stolen any,” he said, with a laugh. “We’re ready to start operations come Monday.”
The mayor said opening up the facility will save the county $4,000 a month, which is what is currently being paid to Loudon County for taking Blount’s stray animals. Loudon has helped out over the past almost two years since the city of Maryville’s animal shelter contract with Blount County expired.
“This opening also saves Blount County the fuel costs and the three hours a day it took for the animal control officer to run back and forth to Loudon County’s facility,” said Cunningham.
Cunningham praised Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp and Loudon County animal shelter director Gordon Harless for their help. “I don’t want to diminish at all the help we received from Loudon County,” Cunningham said.
The mayor said the new facility has 50 kennels plus smaller cages. Smoky Mountain Animal Care Facility originally spearheaded construction and fundraising, but when fundraising disappeared with the sour economy, the county took over construction management and the commission allocated another $300,000 toward the project.
Cunningham praised Marty Yates in Building Codes Department for taking over as construction manager of the project. “He has the construction expertise, and he took over and drove that thing home,” the mayor said. “He and Damon Fortney with maintenance have done a great job.”
The mayor said the operation is tremendously understaffed. “I worry about that, and I worry about operational costs,” he said. “We built such a huge facility that operating it is a challenge both from staffing and from a cost point of view.”
Cunningham said they have received help from the general sessions judges office, the sheriff’s office and from Mike Fox with the Probation Department, who have sent people to work who are doing community service and people on probation.
“Those people have done yeoman’s service. We have had very talented and good people out there,” he said.
The mayor said office manager/operations director Jeanette Sadler and animal field officer Lynn “Chubby” Burchfield will work out of the new facility on Curry Avenue beginning Monday.