Ron Daniel / Staff WriterDouglas County Sentinel

Posted on January 21, 2014

For local animal lovers, getting a new shelter built to replace the current shelter built in the 1980s has been a dream that stretches over at least a decade. But now that money has been budgeted for design and a site has been selected, things are starting to move along pretty quickly.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 at their Tuesday meeting to move ahead with putting out a request for proposal for architectural design services for the new shelter, which will be built on a site at Deer Lick Park off Mack Road.

“I think probably everyone on this board and certainly the Douglas County community at large is very excited about this great step forward,” District 3 Commissioner Mike Mulcare said. “It’s a long-needed project and it’s going to be paid for without any tax implications, which I think is a great thing. It’s going to be in a very central location with adjacent facilities on already county-owned land. So it has many pluses working for it.”

County Administrator Eric Linton said what the BOC did by approving the RFP was “say, ‘hey, we’re ready to move forward with it.’”

“I would hope we could break ground by the third quarter of this year,” Linton said. “That would have the architecture work in place, the construction work in place and have the groundbreaking and of course the financing – to have all of that in place over the next six months.”

Linton said once construction starts, it shouldn’t take more than a year to complete, meaning a new shelter could be open for business by around the middle of 2015.

He said financing the estimated $2.5-$3 million cost of the shelter would be done as previously discussed through a low-interest loan known as a lease purchase agreement through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG).

He said interest rates are “super low” and that the county would “set it up in a way where the payments are what we can afford with the current revenue coming in.”

The design work that Tuesday’s RFP solicits will be paid for with $250,000 in seed money included in the 2014 budget for that purpose.

Mulcare said that a new shelter will be self contained, meaning that the animals will “receive much better care and won’t be subject to mother nature.” At the current shelter, dogs often have to be kept outside year round, including during the summer and winter months when temperatures can hit extremes at both ends of the thermometer.

And Mulcare stressed as he has in the past that a modern shelter will also make life better for the staff working at the shelter.

District 2 Commissioner Kelly Robinson called Tuesday’s move toward hiring an design firm “important.” But he also asked the commissioners to think about the future of Deer Lick Park as a whole.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of discussing the new animal shelter at that Animal Control Advisory Board Meeting.

From Ron Daniel at the Sentinel:

For the Animal Control Advisory Board, 2013 might be a year remembered for the upheaval at so many meetings. There were protests over the former animal services director for much of the first half of the year and palpable frustration from board members about whether a new animal shelter would ever get built for the second half.

But the year ended with news that Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan had selected Deer Lick Park as the site for the new animal shelter.

So when the ACAB held its first meeting of 2014 on Wednesday, things almost seemed mundane with all of the issues from the previous year in the rearview mirror.

District 3 Commissioner Mike Mulcare, a longtime advocate for building a new shelter, was at the meeting with his wife Peg. Mulcare talked about the new shelter and answered a few questions before taking his wife to dinner to celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary.

Mulcare told the animal board he wants a new shelter that is not only humane for the animals but also the staff.

“The part of the equation we overlook so often is the staff,” Mulcare said. “The present shelter is not a pleasant place to work or visit.”

Mulcare also stressed the value of volunteers, pointing out he’d like to see a new shelter where there’s a waiting list to volunteer.

And he talked some about the cat and dog bonding areas he’d like to see where people could play with dog or cat to see if it might be a good fit.

But as the county moves forward with hiring a design team to determine things like the exact spot of the new shelter on the property at Deer Lick, he said it’s important for everyone to manage expectations.

To that effect, Mulcare said he’s already reserved a Facebook page related to the new Douglas County Animal Shelter where pictures and information about the progress can be shared.

Douglas County Director of Purchasing and Animal Services Bill Peacock said that during the recent cold spell all of the animals were moved inside because there was available space, which was welcome news to the board.

Douglas County Animal Control and Shelter Manager Frances McMillan said there are currently 30 cats and 61 dogs at the shelter. The cat number is lower than usual because Peacock said many have been rescued and “cat season is over.”

In addition to making progress on getting a new shelter built, Peacock said four new kennel technicians and two animal control officers have been hired thanks to more funding from the BOC in the 2014 budget.

Those new employees are scheduled to start work Jan. 21.

McMillan she hopes the extra staff will allow time for pictures to be taken of every dog and cat up for adoption that can be posted to the Douglas County Animal Shetler’s Facebook page to help spur more adoptions.

“If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do, you’re misinformed.” –Mark Twain

The Neighbor Newspaper on 12/18/2013 attributed to me numerous budget suggestions that were in fact presented instead by a local citizens’ group in the December10 public hearing. Practically the entire article was misattributed to me by quotes.

What IS accurate in the article is the following: “Mulcare has pledged to roll back the millage rate ‘when and only when the tax digest reflects a marked recovery and other revenues can be reasonably relied upon’”. The following is also correct: “…the value of a mill Douglas County collected from residents to pay its bills is now down 20%. Therefore it takes more of a mill in Douglas County to pay for gas, food, patrols cars and other operating costs than it does in most metro counties.”

If you have any questions I will be glad to answer them. I have the original document on file with my quotes.

UPDATE: I have received an apology in-print from The Neighbor Newspaper for this misattributed article.


A Special Called Meeting is planned for the sole purpose of having a Public Hearing on the Proposed 2014 Budget. The meeting is scheduled for December 10th, at 6PM in Citizens’ Hall of the Douglas County Courthouse. This is not a required meeting as the budget does not call for an increase in property taxes.

However, in the interests of government transparency and civic involvement, the county commission decided to hold this meeting. Prior to this meeting, the Proposed Budget can be reviewed on the county web site – Check here later for a direct link when the proposed budget is posted to the site.

The 2014 budget will be adopted in the regular commission meeting on December 17th, at 10AM in Citizens’ Hall. This budget will be effective for the calendar year 2014.

Mike in the News