Transition Board mulls over animal shelter future

Published 8:59 am Friday, July 28, 2017

Steps were put in place Thursday evening as county and city representation look to come up with a solution to address oversight issues at the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter.

The Animal Shelter Transition Board, comprised of Buford Peters, Randall Jenkins, Wes Frazier, Sam Shipley, Shannon Posada, Christa Byrd and Mike Barnett convened inside the County Courthouse to elect officers and discuss what the future has in store for the operation of the animal shelter. Frazier was unable to attend but represented by City Council member Kim Birchfield.

“We will be there support Mrs. (Shannon) Posada and the staff at the shelter,” Buford Peters, county commissioner and Transition Board member, said.

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County Attorney Josh Hardin attended Thursday’s meeting and stated the goal of the Transition Board – which will be active for 90 to 180 days – is to figure out the operation method of the shelter, amended bylaws and discuss funding for the facility moving forward.

Transition Board members kicked off the meeting by selecting officers. Barnett made the motion to place Frazier as the chairman of the board, which was seconded by Byrd. Shipley motioned and Jenkins seconded to set Barnett as vice chair and Posada was selected unanimously as the secretary with a motion coming from Jenkins and seconded by Shipley.

With housekeeping out of the way for the structure of the board, a motion was presented to form an animal shelter oversight committee; once the Transition Board ceases to exists, to serve as the supervision for Posada and shelter staff.

The potential board would consist of three City Council members, three County Commission members, and a county citizen – which would be designated as Barnett for the time-being.

Discussion ensued about the longevity of the current Advisory Board in place, which could cease as well if the Transition Board deems fit.

While the recommendation to form an oversight committee was unanimously supported by the Transition Board, it can only go into effect if passed by City Council and County Commission.

The goal of the transition board is to make recommendations to both governments and help mend the fence when it comes to operations at the facility. A workshop with the city as far as operations go is expected to take place before the next Transition Board meeting – scheduled to take place August 22. Transition Board members alluded to the fact that it would be good to have City Mayor Curt Alexander and City Manager Jerome Kitchens available for the next meeting.

Hardin added the Transition Board is the mesh to bring the city and county together to see how the operation of the shelter should be handled moving forward and how to come together to a new operational agreement – instead of taking the issue to court due to both entities differing stances on the former contract.

The topic of the Tennessee Comptroller Office’s investigation was also brought up during the meeting. In the July 19 edition of the Elizabethton Star, the Office confirmed to the Star that the investigation is still ongoing. Mayor Leon Humphrey added that the representative from the Office was in the county conducting interviews at that time. Once the representative can finalize his report, it would be passed along to the Office to be then deemed appropriate for completion, then available for the public.

Barnett added all vested parties would put the investigation behind them once announced in the future. The goal moving forward is to look at implementing more volunteer assistance at the shelter along with foster care and other items.

Peters and Posada are expected to visit surrounding shelters in the coming weeks to see how they organize fundraising events to help with operational costs.

While there was a consensus for a nonprofit to take over the operation at the shelter, Hardin added it would still be ways off, and that oversight needs to be implemented soon following Mayor Humphrey’s resignation as overseer of the shelter.

Further details on the operation of the shelter will be discussed at upcoming meetings.