Advisory Board hears update on shelter operation transition

Published 8:13 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2017

After months of heated discussions and comments, the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter Advisory is looking ahead.
Members met at the Carter County Courthouse Tuesday evening, just one week after Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey resigned officially took his office out of the oversight role of the animal shelter.
Mike Barnett, who serves as the Board’s chairman, told attendees that the back-and-forth banter is in the past and that it marks a “new day” for all respective parties to come together for the betterment of the animals in the community.
Carter County Commissioner Buford Peters, who was appointed by the Carter County Commission as liaison to the shelter and serve in an oversight role as a transition board forms following Humphrey’s resignation, addressed Advisory Board members Tuesday and said the necessary steps are taking place to establish a transition board.
The transition board will be comprised of seven members: Peters, Commissioner Randall Jenkins, County Finance Director Christa Byrd, one representative from the Advisory Board and two representatives from the Elizabethton City Council.
Peters read a letter provided by County Attorney Josh Hardin, directed to City Attorney Roger Day, indicating the transitional agreement by the county.
Barnett was appointed to serve on the transition board later in the meeting, but Peters added that a meeting of the board would be scheduled and notice will be sent out once two Council members are appointed.
Until a decision is made by the board, Peters will continue to serve in the role of the oversight for the animal shelter but added he was not going to micromanage Posada or the staff in any way.
“I’m not going to put myself in her way,” Peters said about Posada. “I think she’s doing a great job.”
Peters added his responsibility as a Commissioner is to serve his district and citizens and that he will look out for the taxpayers and that he, along with others, will make sure the right decision is made for the operational cost of the shelter, whether it be a continually split between both municipalities or the formation of a new 501(c)3 organization. He added that the transition would be made as transparent as possible to the public.
Advisory Board and Friends of the Animal Shelter member John Bland was welcomed back to the meeting with a round of applause from attendees after missing a few meetings due to medical reasons.
Bland asked Posada about what an exact total the animal shelter could consider as far as max capacity, which the director responded to by saying she would like to discuss that with the board to figure out what could be feasible for the staff.
The reasoning for the question, Bland explained, was so both city and county, along with taxpayers, could have a sheer number for what the operational costs for the shelter could be moving forward compared to the previous proposals that have circulated over the months. Bland added excessive numbers put a strain on both animals and staff at the shelter.
Policies and procedures, along with job descriptions, were also provided by the Mayor’s Office and passed out to Advisory Board members during Tuesday’s meeting.
County representative to the Board, Cody McQueen, distributed the packets and provided a box with five binders that were initially comprised by Susan Robinson, administrative assistant to Humphrey.
McQueen read from a letter submitted by the mayor and stated that the binders include policies and procedures comparable with Loudon County, Tenn., and included general laws.
The information will reportedly be put on the books in the county office for the time-being, while Posada can amend portions seen fit for the operation of the shelter.
In the letter, addressed June 27, 2017, from the Mayor’s Office, the Mayor added that the shelter has failed short of reporting finances, inventories, and other matters.
Posada stated the shelter has put in the required purchase orders for items through the finance department and that inventory, including of the animals, has been performed on a daily basis.
McQueen said he would put in requests for information in three different departments which information would be provided to, which in turn will be used for the transitional board in the coming weeks.
Animal control also came up, with McQueen providing an update that the Carter County Sheriff’s Office is looking at surrounding schools to properly train officers as control officers and that discussions are continuing to improve the issue.
Other updates from the meeting included the shelter’s final total of animals adopted out during this week’s adoption event. The shelter was able to adopt out 104 animals during the weeklong event. Posada added that a fair amount of animals adopted out were spayed and neutered but ones that weren’t, due to age, had adopters sign a release stating the animal would be altered at the right age. When asked about keeping documentation of animals, Posada added the shelter can track the animals that were adopted out unaltered from the signed forms now and that adopters will be followed up with to check the status of the animals.
Brother Wolf also indicated that proper home vetting would be continued in the future and the facility now uses Tri-County Veterinary Hospital as it’s vet. The story of Moxy, an emaciated animal that was discovered put in foster care, is reportedly in better care and has a waiting list to be adopted out.  Attendees were also able to hear progress on spay/neuter programs by the Carter County Humane Society and Veterans’ Buddies new food pantry that assists low-income pet owners.
In regards to the investigative audit, one attendee stated a call to the Comptroller’s Office raised concern when the official said that an investigative audit is not supposed to be public knowledge but confirmed with the attendee that an investigation is ongoing.
Humphrey previously stated in several different forums that volunteers inside the shelter and fosters are unable to happen due to the audit. Barnett added the issue is going to be researched, with volunteers and fosters being a top priority for the animals and staff at the shelter, and will be discussed by the transition board.

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