Johnson City Press Sunday, November 23, 2014
Opinion

Unicoi Animal shelter and Erwin officials retreat in Sunday's Forum

June 24th, 2013 9:00 am by Staff Report

Unicoi Animal shelter and Erwin officials retreat in Sunday's Forum

As a supporter of the Unicoi County Animal Shelter, I was shocked to find out that Erwin is withdrawing more than $20,000 from that shelter, and planning to open a city shelter just for dogs. At a time when the economy is precarious and budgets are tight, civic leaders must guard taxpayer dollars carefully.
Two local shelters equal twice the cost of water, electricity and phone service, twice the cost of a person stationed at the front desk and twice the cost of intake staff and management.
The Unicoi County Animal Shelter is blessed with a great director, dedicated staff, wonderful volunteers and tremendous contacts throughout the region that have helped find homes for hard-to-place animals. The Unicoi shelter works with vets to ensure animals leave the shelter spayed or neutered and healthier than when they arrived.
The Unicoi shelter staff ensure new owners learn about care and the importance of proper immunizations for their pets. The Unicoi shelter operates on a bare-bones budget and does remarkable work thanks to the support of the community and volunteers. Withdrawing $20,000 from Unicoi to start a shelter in Erwin would dilute the services the residents of Erwin already receive.
CATHERINE WAITINAS
Johnson City
Retreat expense?
Why do Mayor Doris Hensley and her colleagues have to retreat to Pigeon Forge to strategically plan? What do they accomplish while occupying office space during the workweek?
Was this retreat at the expense of Erwin taxpayers? If so, I would be curious to know the total cost of the retreat. Could those monies not have been used toward funding of the shelter?
As a public educator for 25 years, I’ve witnessed, time and time again, the enthusiastic spending of someone else’s dollars — i.e. wasting of taxpayers’ money. Perhaps cats aren’t the only “nuisance” in the town of Erwin.
LORI HARRIS
Limestone
Hidden agenda
I’m absolutely sure the town’s officials have some hidden agenda. They couldn’t care less about the people of Erwin and Unicoi County, much less the animals of the community. They only care about lining their pockets and running the town into the ground and it’s pretty much always been that way.
They refuse to do anything for the youth, nor are they interested in coming into the 21st century by bringing progress into this tourism-rich town. Erwin could have it all. We have the natural resources to be the next Gatlinburg or Lake Lure, but the town officials would rather secretly vote on important issues so the people of the town can’t voice an opinion.
As you can tell I’m completely against dropping the town’s funding of the Unicoi County Animal Shelter, but the town’s officials will do what’s best for them — just as was the case of the Unicoi County Hospital.
SUMMER DAY
Erwin
Erwin dog pound
Like most people in Erwin and Unicoi County, I was surprised and saddened by the news that the town has decided to break away from the Unicoi County Animal Shelter in order to operate its own dog pound.
The animal shelter has been very successful in its bid to become a safe haven for dogs and cats. It has worked hard to see that as many dogs and cats as possible find their “forever homes.”
Why would the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen choose to pull out of such a great deal? I can only surmise that someone on the board is in a snit or someone is receiving a kickback of some sort for ending such a productive and valuable service to our community.
I think the Erwin BMA should hold a public hearing about the decision in order to allow citizens to voice their concerns. If town officials do not allow any public input on this decision, then citizens of Erwin need to vote these people out.
MICHAEL BRIGGS
Erwin
Goodbye, Erwin
Since the town of Erwin is now saving $23,000 on the animal shelter, they obviously don’t need any more of my family’s money. My car will not drive to Erwin anymore for gas. I will not shop for groceries in Erwin.
Eat-out meals will not be in Erwin. Drugstores will be used in other cities. Gifts will be purchased elsewhere. One really bad decision has been made and Erwin has seen the last of us.
LILLIAN McCAW
Unicoi
Rescind the action
It was with great disappointment that we read about the action of the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen in voting to discontinue its share of the maintenance of the Unicoi County Animal Shelter.
We are particularly concerned that the action was taken without consultation with the two other partners, Unicoi County and the town of Unicoi, who are equal contributors to the animal shelter. Nor was any notice given that this action was to be considered. The Johnson City Press aptly described the vote as blind-siding officials of the animal shelter.
Mayor Hensley explained that it is the intent of Erwin to recreate the animal shelter the town maintained prior to the creation of the Unicoi Animal Shelter. It was the inadequacy of that prior facility that was one of the significant reasons that led to the creation of the county animal shelter.  
As residents of Unicoi County, we would hope that the Erwin Board of Mayor and Alderman would reconsider the damage they intend to do to the county animal shelter and rescind their previous action.
We are grateful for the dissenting vote of Alderman Sue Jean Wilson, who opposed the action of the board.
DR. and MRS. C.R. WETZELL
Unicoi
Animals first
The Unicoi Animal Shelter has done an excellent job in taking responsibility for the care of abandoned, hurt, sick and unwanted animals in recent years. Prior to this, the city was “taking care” of the problem, and the care of these poor animals was virtually non-existent.
Please leave well enough alone. Put the animals, not politics, first.
SHERRY HENEGAR
Johnson City

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