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County Commissioner responds to animal shelter budget letter

To the Editor:
It has been several days since Jim Winchester wrote to the editor of the Star concerning his thoughts on the animal shelter annual operating budget appropriation which was developed from income from several funding sources.
In addition to the letter to the editor, Jim Winchester has spoken two times on the animal shelter. He spoke to the budget committee and gave us details of his impressive educational and business background. He indicated he had been asked to speak to the committee on why changing the animal shelter from basically a government funded entity to a non-profit agency would not work in Carter County, even though the commission voted 19 to 4 to change to a non-profit knowing that this change (Scrooge) has worked well in many other locations. His reasoning echoed the same argument of one of our commissioners (not enough wealthy donors). So who asked Mr. Winchester to speak against going to a non-profit status?
The second time Mr. Winchester spoke was to the full commission at the budget public hearing. On this occasion he indicated he had been asked to speak. He spoke of how the commission had micro-managed and had extended the powers of over reaching their authority. Mr. Winchester gave a presentation (diatribe) worthy of a Philadelphia lawyer. Many of our hard working commissioners felt berated and were not happy with his remarks. Criticism is seldom appreciated even if it is deemed to be constructive.
The letter to the editor was more explicit — we were cheapskates, we were grinches, and yes, the Ebenezer (Scrooge) moniker was given to one of the hardest working commissioners. The letter went on to say we were “hypocrites” if we as individuals did not divulge our giving to the animal shelter. I personally know of one commissioner who gives over 29 times more to non-profits than the amount Mr. Winchester stated in his letter.
The mission of the budget committee was to take the available 2021-2022 anticipated income and try to fairly assign this income to fund governmental departments and the non-profit organizations who contribute so much to the community through their giving of money and free labor to support so many needed projects. We are not a wealthy county, have an aging population that is on a fixed income, plus our population consists of citizens whose family income ranks the family below the established poverty level. Nearly one-quarter of our citizens have children, were it not for food they get at school, that would go hungry. I do believe that the animals at the animal shelter are well cared for. They are never hungry.
Again, I ask who is resisting the wish of the commissioners to change the animal shelter to a non-profit by asking Mr. Winchester to speak against the will of the commission and for funding that exceeds many other departments with urgent needs.
Mr. Winchester in his letter to the editor may have answered this question when he wrote “several dozen kittens and puppies at the shelter, fearing they are on the road to shelter hell, asked me to represent their voices.”
Add the ability to talk to animals to the resume of our new citizen, Mr. Jim Winchester.

Charles D. VonCannon
3rd District Commissioner