The cat’s out of the bag. Pun intended.
About 45 minutes in to the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Board’s Tuesday meeting, all board members, and a few city and county officials, learned there already exists about $2.8 million in donations sitting out there with which to build a new animal shelter.
It’s not money in the bank, but there was a strong sense of confidence inside the Winged Deer Park meeting room. The $500,000 piece of property for the new shelter has been purchased, and the capital campaign is only in its formative stages.
The donors’ names were not revealed, and the revelation came only when the board had discussed a number of fundraising events in the making: a sales and donation tent at the August races at Bristol Motor Speedway, hot dog sales at Walmart, brick and tile sales, a bluegrass fundraiser at Down Home and the 2,000 donor cards that are about to be printed up.
“Jane (Myron), do you want to update us on possible donor?,” said Chairman Rick Gordon.
Myron, the fledgling fundraising committee’s chairwoman, said quietly that she should know next Thursday about a $1 million donation.
Board member and Humane Society President Beverly Green Hyder spoke next.
“I’ve spoken to a person that is ready to drop $1.5 million for a spay and neuter clinic wing at the shelter.”
She also mentioned that she also had an additional $300,000 worth of commitments.
The comments caused County Commissioner and board member David Tomita to withdraw his motion to contact and perhaps hire Indiana-based Dickerson Bakker & Associates to help the board and an anticipated 25-member fundraising team determine if there was $1.2 million out there in the community that could be raised to build the core building.
“If your confidence is that high, and if you know who your people are, then go for it,” he said.
Just about all members agreed it was in their best interest to have the firm help. That was until Johnson City Public Works Director Phil Pindzola spoke up.
“I disagree,” he said before the vote. “The board should know.”
The discussion went back and forth on paying the company $16,500 to give the board some direction. But once Myron and Hyder were forthcoming, talk not only turned to merely plunging forward with the fundraising but also perhaps changing the name of the shelter.
The majority of members agreed people are sometimes hesitant to donate to government entities. But in the end, both the city and county are responsible for animal control and both make annual allocations and the conversation was dropped.
A resolution for additional funding is headed back to the full County Commission on Monday. The city’s $350,000 helped the board buy the new property. The county, which has bounced the resolution around a bit, failed to approve three variations of an amended resolution last month.
It has since landed back in the Budget Committee, where it was approved in its original form and will once again return to commissioners. That resolution includes a stipulation that should the animal board not have the new facility up and running 24 months after a construction bid is OK’d, the county can ask for its money back.