Orris offers to ‘facilitate’ work on new animal shelter

First wants to be sure of Jeff city council’s support for the project

The future stray dogs and cats of Greene County should be wagging their tails or purring with excitement for what is in store for them. Don Orris, who in 2014 received the Greene County Chamber’s Above and Beyond the Call (ABC) Award his efforts on the Thomas Jefferson Gardens, and who before that spearheaded the fundraising and then did much of the physical labor on the Doreen Wilber plaza, put the Jefferson city council “on notice” that he has offered to help P.A.W.S. volunteers in their work to build a new animal shelter.

Don Orris (center) was honored with the ABC Award. Presenters were Chris Henning (right) and Ben Yoder.
Don Orris (center) was honored with the ABC Award in 2014.  |  GCNO file photo

Orris talked with the city council during the open forum portion of the May 12 council meeting. “I’m just trying to facilitate it. I want to make it clear – I don’t want to work as hard as I did at the Thomas Jefferson Gardens, but I am going to facilitate it and try to get it going forward,” Orris said. (So he may not be on his knees laying brick pavers at the new shelter.)

Orris said his first recommendation to P.A.W.S. is that they do more research on the project. The P.A.W.S. committee has ideas of what a new shelter should look like, but Orris intends to do more research to determine what size of building will be needed to serve a county the size of Greene County. “My plan is to get a plan that will work for today and for the future, based on real information on what’s the best kind of facility, what’s the lowest maintenance facility.”

He posed questions to the council, saying more than once “I don’t want to spin my wheels if this isn’t what we’re doing.”

He queried the intention of the city council and the county board of supervisors to work together on some type of county-wide facility. “I think that’s the direction we’re going,” mayor Craig Berry said. “We haven’t had much conversation about it. We’ve had some numbers from Jill Mills at P.A.W.S. The funding is wide open. There was talk of using Grow Greene County money, along with a partnership with the city and county.”

Berry said he is aware that the county has talked of having an animal control officer be in charge of the shelter. The city is accepting of the idea of sharing funding for that, but did not include money in the FY ’16 budget.

Orris asked again whether the council is supportive of the project. “Are you willing for me to try to get 1) a plan; 2) facilitate between you and the county cost-sharing type things available and find out Grow Greene County money available and so forth? I don’t want to spin my wheels if you’re not going that direction. I’m will to do that, to facilitate it and to try to bring it to an end, but I’m really interested in making sure I cover all the bases, as long as there’s a good chance that this [planning] isn’t going to get set on a shelf somewhere,” he said.

Council member Lisa Jaskey said, “I don’t think anybody would doubt that it’s sorely needed to get a new facility, that it’s a growing problem in the county.” She said she had attended two meetings on the subject. Discussion included having a fulltime animal control officer and a halftime professional director to run the facility.

According to city administrator Mike Palmer, a steering committee has been formed with representatives from the city, the county, and P.A.W.S. “The mechanism is there. You can be the guy who helps,” Palmer told Orris.

According to Jaskey, the first step is to determine the cost of a shelter. “Then we can figure out the money part,” she said. Jaskey is a member of the steering committee.

The probable site suggested by the city is on city-owned property at the airport, just east of the driveway.



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