Applause filled the room as Bradley County Commission members and residents expressed opinions on animal control issues.
Chairman Louie Alford said he had appointed 7th District Commissioner Bill Winters and 4th District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones to a joint committee with the city to discuss what could be done.
Fifth District Commissioner Jeff Yarber said someone who was for an animal control contract and someone who had voted against the Cleveland City Council’s offer should be named to the committee. He mentioned he might make a motion at the voting session to change one of the appointees.
Residents expressed concern that something needed to be done quickly to address animals being dumped in rural communities with residents having no where to take them.
“It’s a crisis right now,” resident Rachel Veazey said. “I just want to thank you for listening and for understanding my passion.”
Resident Robin Samburn said stray animals become wild and can be dangerous.
In emergency situations where a violent animal poses a threat, county residents can call the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
Seventh District Commissioner Mark Hall said the animal control contract was simply an example of the need for better relations between the two governments.
“There is more at stake than just animal control,” Hall said. “It’s a sad day when we have 20 community leaders who should be above average intelligence and can’t come up with a solution that works for both parties.”
Commissioners had been presented a letter from someone in East Ridge outlining how that city had become a “no kill” city. The letter suggested having those who own pets pay an extra fee with revenues going to fund an animal shelter. Yarber said he was not in favor of this.
Yarber said whatever the solution might be, he does not want to duplicate services. Fourth District Commissioner J. Adam Lowe said the county could partner with private organizations to help reach a solution. Veazey said she would be happy to partner with someone to help establish animal control for the county.
Community members have questioned why the Commission sent a request to the city to approve a contract that excluded animal pickup to the city after it had been rejected once.
“We are in a budgetary situation. We are looking at how we can expand our options,” said 7th District Commissioner Bill Winters. ‘We were saying we could not go with another $300,000.”
Also during the meeting:
Misdemeanor probation director Rich Kienlen presented information about a work release program facility.
“I don’t want to sound like Paul Revere, bu I want to sound the alarm. We had 483 inmates at the jail this morning at a 408-bed facility,” Kienlen said.
A proposal to move forward with pursuing the project will be on the consent agenda at the Commission’s meeting Tuesday.
There are still some unanswered questions surrounding the project. Kienlen said the county attorney is researching whether the facility construction would have to go through a bid process. Discussions with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office will also take place to discuss allowing 25 state inmates to be housed at the facility to help offset costs.