Editorial l The county on the right track for a new refuge | Editorials

ANIMAL SHELTER

THE PROBLEM: Plans for a new animal shelter are finally taking shape.

OUR OPINION: The public puts their money where they say it.

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It’s been talked about for years, but plans are finally coming to fruition for a new animal shelter on the Lecanto County property.

And it is thanks to the massive support of the community and a big push from County Commissioner Ruthie Schlabach.

On Tuesday, two generous donors gave the county $ 515,000 for the new animal shelter. This follows the selection by County staff of Florida-based Tocoi Engineering Inc. to manage the design of the new facility. County commissioners are expected to revisit this decision and consider issuing the design contract to Tocoi at a board meeting in December or January.

The county has received $ 2.5 million in donations to date, according to county data. This includes $ 236,400 from the Citrus County Chronicle’s gofundme.com campaign. It also includes $ 1.5 million in donations from the previous year, pledged income, and eligible impact fees available for the shelter. On top of that comes $ 681,000 from residents of Citrus County this year, County Commissioner Ruthie Schlabach said.

Schlabach’s # 1 project when she took office last year was to find a new permanent home for the animal shelter. Since then, she has been a leader and ardent supporter of the campaign for a new refuge.

When the Chronicle was a drop-off point for donations last year, Schlabach would collect the checks and deliver them to the county budget and finance director for deposit to a dedicated animal services account to fund a new shelter. Some of the checks came with personalized notes explaining why the donor thought it was so important to take care of dogs and cats. It touched Schlabach so much that she responded with thank you notes to each donor. “I don’t care if they send a check for $ 5, they get a thank you note from me,” she said.

This is the kind of community response that all Commissioners should emulate.

Community support has been enormous, but this is not surprising given the caring nature of the residents of the county. Residents have stepped up their donations ranging from $ 5 to six-figure checks.

During an April 13 workshop on a proposed new animal shelter, Commissioner Holly Davis asked the audience to raise their hands to find out who would be willing to make a financial contribution to help pay for a new facility. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the 40 people raised their hands.

But County Commissioner Ron Kitchen, a vocal opponent of spending money on a new shelter, said it’s easy to raise a hand, but his experience has shown that when it comes to opening their checkbook was another story.

The people of Citrus County had to take this as a challenge and they put their money where they say it.


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Jennifer R. Strohm