KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Plans to build a new, regional animal shelter on Stone Drive in Kingsport are no longer, according to PETworks President Tom Parham.
That’s because, Parham says, Sullivan County did not fund the construction of the building in its recently-passed budget.
The original idea was to build a brand new, 18,000 square foot facility on Stone Drive, costing around $3.5 million. But that shelter as planned, Parham said, for now won’t happen.
“The bad news or the sad news is that Petworks’ plans, firm plans, to build a new regional animal shelter became a casualty of the budget process,” said Parham.
Sullivan County’s budget process, that is.
Parham said PETworks wanted a little more than $1 million from the county – money to help pay for the construction and equipment of a new facility in Kingsport.
“It replaces two very old, very inefficient, very woefully inadequate shelters that we have now,” said Parham.
Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable said in this year’s budget passed last week, no money was set aside for that new shelter.
“The main reason was is that we were facing a tax increase for two critical issues for the county,” Venable said. “The opportunity presented itself to me as mayor to settle our lawsuit that we were dealing with with our sheriff.”
“Thousands of hours of work and time and dollars to get to this point, and it’s sad that we couldn’t go forward,” said Parham.
Still, Parham is staying optimistic that there will be a shelter, though a down-sized one, at the Stone Drive site.
“The plans are to go forward with a city of Kingsport shelter that would be for the city and build it in such a manner that it could be expanded later if the county and the city of Bristol want to become a part of it,” said Parham.
“Eventually when we can afford it and when the citizens feel like we can afford it, we’ll have a joint operation, I’m sure of that,” said Venable.
Parham says the PETworks board will meet in a few weeks to determine plans moving forward for a new shelter.
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