A few voices were raised in protest, but the Sallisaw City Commission voted to proceed with plans for the new Sallisaw animal shelter on Eppler Avenue, but that all funding for the project be identified before construction. About 50 people attended the meeting. One woman, Mary Baker, said she believed the city could be sued if animals abandoned in the city bit someone. Others protested so loudly that the city could not be sued in such a situation, that Police Chief Terry Franklin stood and asked everyone to, "Calm down please". Another woman, Barbara Nelson, was concerned that animals are often just dropped off at the animal shelter, and allowed to run free because no officer was on duty. She was concerned for the safety of her children. Franklin said she should call the police department, but Nelson and others said they had called in the past to report free-ranging dogs, with no results. Franklin said he would see that someone would respond to such calls. But he said his department only had one animal control officer, who worked more than 40 hours a week, and the budget would not allow for more animal control officers.
Former City Manager Lloyd Haskins, (pictured above, standing) pointed out that the animal shelter, as a city project, could not proceed as a capital outlay project without identified funding. City Manager Bill Baker said he was aware of that, and would not do so. But Haskins said the city, by completing the building pad site, had already begun construction. Baker, earlier in the meeting, read his commentary on the project into the record.
The new animal shelter has $100,000 in city funding and the remainder of the project is to be funded by donations, expected to be about $83,000. City Commissioner Roe Poindexter, Ward 2, told the group that the animal shelter was one of her passions and was initiated by her. She said the donors could not be asked to make their donations without first seeing the finished plans for the building. Baker said Keith Miller, the city's building development director, was working on the plans to save money. He said the plans were nearly complete, and the city hoped to go out for bids on the project in the near future. But the commissioners' final vote to approve the project includes that the funding for the project be identified and possibly in hand. Poindexter said that the shelter cost of $300,000 reported by other media was incorrect.
In other business, Baker reported on a survey taken about the remains of the old Sallisaw High School. He said 577 responded to the survey on the city's web site. He reported 273 believed the remaining rotunda and walls should remain as is; that 116 voted to tear down the rotunda and walls; and that 188 voted to keep the rotunda and wing walls, but to tear down the other remaining walls. The commission voted to hire an engineer to determine the safety of the remaining structures before a final decision is made. Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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