Major Problems: Carter County Planning Director speaks to commission about Animal Shelter building issues

Published 1:09 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Last Thursday, Carter County Planning and Zoning Director Chris Schuettler began inspecting the three buildings that make up the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter.

And what he found wasn’t good.

“We have got a lot of problems,” said Schuettler to the Carter County Commission during Tuesday’s meeting at the Carter County Courthouse.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

During his look over of the animal shelter, Schuettler said he found a large number of issues including electrical, HVAC and structural problems in all three buildings at the shelter.

“Looking at the HVAC systems, it’s terrible, absolutely terrible,” Schuettler said about the heating and air system inside the main building. “Your influx and intake are reaching 100 percent and 100 percent. That is like sucking air in from the outside, running it through conditioning and throwing it away. That is probably one of the main reasons we have an extremely high propane bill.

“Another thing we are looking at right now, speaking to a couple contractors, is how we can change that from propane to actual natural gas and doing some work on the HVAC system,” added Schuettler. “We did lose a unit up there. That comes into our electrical problems. There are some major electrical problems within that construction.”

Like the main building, building No. 2, which houses the shelter’s cats, also has issues with HVAC and a leaking roof.

“Building two, we have an HVAC system problem,” said Schuettler. “We have straight 100 percent in and 100 percent out. We also have a roof leak. We have an extreme structural situation. I don’t know what we are going to do to fix that. It could have a lot to do with leaking coming through the roof. We have a definite problem. The construction of the property was not completely done.”

In buildings No. 3 and 3A, which is still under construction, Schuettler said it didn’t take him long to find issues.

“Thursday morning, within five minutes, I found 16 things on building No. 3 that was not properly done to the plans and specifications.

“In Building 3, we have electrical problems,” added Schuettler. “We have switches that are not in the proper place. Just a lot of stupidity.”

Schuettler said he is currently going over the plans for the animal shelter buildings as well as looking over notes and contractor information. He hopes to have a detailed report of things that need to be fixed at the shelter ready for the Carter County Commission next month.

“It is an on-going situation down there,” said Schuettler. “We are trying to keep everything fixed and keep it going. We have got an almost new building in building No. 1 that should have lasted us 15 years before we started having problems, and we are having them in less than five. It is just a very bad situation.”

The animal shelter moved into the buildings on Sycamore Shoals Drive in  December of 2013. Construction of the new animal shelter was not under the oversight of the Carter County Planning and Zoning Department but was under the oversight of the Mayor’s Office while former mayor Leon Humphrey was in office.

Following Schuettler informing the commission on the condition of the animal shelter structures, county commissioner Dr. Robert Acuff made a motion that the plans of all future building projects that involve county dollars be sent to the Carter County Planning and Zoning offices and be assigned a project manager from the office.

“That building has never been inspected,” said Acuff. “We should be inspecting our own buildings. If we ask our constituents to abide by building and permit rules in our county, then the county should be abiding by its own rules and laws.”

The motion narrowly passed 13-7 with commissioners Ronnie Trivett, Isaiah Grindstaff, Ross Garland, Randall Jenkins, Gary Bailey, Travis Hill, and Aaron Frazier voting no. The biggest objection to the motion was that it should first go through the proper committees before being voted on by the full commission.

Animal Shelter director Shannon Posada took over her position in 2016 and said that since she took the job that she has noticed problems at the shelter. Posada said the current animal shelter board that consists of Mike Barnett, Dr. Acuff, commissioners Sonja Culler and Kelly Collins, city councilmen Wes Fraizer and Kim Birchfield, Posada, and chairman Mike Barnett, has begun looking at the details of all the issues at the shelter and are in the process of remedying problems.

“There have been many issues ever since the day that I walked in here,” said Posada. “. . . The propane bills are extreme. The furnace caught fire here recently. It is just a problem with the new construction. We have talked to some contractors and none of them wanted to touch the shelter. They said it is just a mess.”