News of Porter County officials intentions to consider a potential
private/public partnership between the county and the non-profit Lakeshore
PAWS to handle operations at the future animal shelter has a few members of
the shelter advisory board worried that talks may actually delay
construction of a new building.
Board members Rachael Jones, Ella Holst and Dawn Garmon gathered at a
special meeting Wednesday saying that communication needs to improve between
the board, the commissioners and members of the public if a new shelter
building is ever to become a reality.
"Right now, my biggest concern is that this (partnering talk) again puts off
building a new shelter even further," said Holst.
In the short time since discussions with Lakeshore PAWS were announced,
questions have sprung up regarding whether privatizing the animal shelter
would be the right move, since raising funds to build a multi-million dollar
shelter will be a difficult feat. More questions surround what the county
has in mind for the current shelter, which might be used by the countys
animal control unit.
Garmon said it is important questions are asked and emphasized the
importance of noting that none of these issues have been seriously
She and the other two members said they have not been included in any of the
partnering discussions and commented on how quickly these discussions
transpired without notice.
"I just dont know if this has been thought through properly. Its going too
fast," said Jones.
The board looks to host a meeting next week where they plan to talk with
Lakeshore PAWS president Jeanne Sommer and address their questions. The
meeting is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, July 5, at 5 p.m. in Room 307
of the Porter County Administration Building.
Sommer, who resigned from the shelter board a couple weeks ago due to time
commitment issues, took questions from the county council this week, saying
she plans for the new shelter to be no kill while animal control will
continue to be county controlled. The conversations are in the infancy
stages, she said, and agreed to keep the board updated on progress.
Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, said there are other
possibilities out there still worth exploring.
The Shelter board echoed the plea to keep their minds open to all
possibilities. "We all need to be looking at whats best," Jones said.
Meanwhile Holst advocated forging ahead with the second phase of getting a
design for the new shelter with Shelter Planners of America, but said the
effort has been plagued with communication problems. This week she made
contact with Bill Meade, the planning and design director for Shelter
Planner who wrote the feasibility report for a new shelter, and was advised
he had not received any communication from the county asking him to continue
with the next step.
In order for that to begin, Meade would need approval of the building
program, which was outlined in the report, as well as authorization to
proceed with the floor plan.