By John L. Ross, Staff Writer
Members of two animal rescue groups approached the Laurel County Fiscal Court Thursday in an attempt to set protocols for the county animal shelter.
Jamie Medlin, with Justice For Abused Animals, first spoke to court magistrates.
Her concern was cruelty to animals — and she pointed fingers at the animal shelter, adding that she has heard “from several, several citizens in the county who are concerned.”
Judge/Executive David Westerfield said he had been contacted three times concerning alleged problems with the animal shelter.
Medlin also told council members of dogs at the shelter reportedly “being sold under the table,” and questioned the medical procedures of the animal shelter staff.
“We are willing to help the shelter,” Medlin said.
Westerfield explained the topic had been discussed at committee meetings.
“We need time,” Westerfield said. “These are strong accusations (and there’s) not a lot of documentation to back (those accusations) up.”
Stephanie Fields, with Homeward Bound Canine Rescue and Rehabilitation clinic in London, was the second to address magistrates concerning animal cruelty issues.
She explained to magistrates that she was not concerned about the accusations — she wanted to help rescue animals.
“The longer we wait for a protocol to be in place, the more animals will die,” Fields said. “We can help. We work with surrounding counties with this — except for the county we’re based in.”
Other members of the animal rescue groups who came to Thursday’s meeting shook their heads in the audience when they heard Westerfield’s responses.
Fields hoped for a time frame to get the ball rolling with establishing protocols for the shelter.
However, Westerfield explained that “these accusations make a big part of this,” and that before those protocols can be established, the accusations needed to be addressed.
“So animals will continue to be euthanized just for space,” Fields said. “(And) the animals are paying the price.”
Magistrate Teddy Benge asked for another 30 days to review the situation.
“The longer we’re waiting, more (animals) will be put down — (it’s) an inevitable reality,” Fields said.
Westerfield added he felt partnering with these groups would not be good at this point.
“With what we’re accused of at the animal shelter, I feel we don’t want to partner (with you) right now,” he said. “I’m sorry if you don’t like it.”
No official decision was required for this subject.
In other Fiscal Court business:
— The county budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 had its second reading unanimously approved Thursday.
According to a budget summary, the grand total for all funds is $21,113,528.71.
The appropriated funds and their receiving entities are as follows: the general fund totals $10,488,843.26; the road fund totals $4,141,103; the jail fund totals $4,564,401.45; the LGEA fund totals $451,650; the forest fund totals $5,741; the occupational tax fund totals $409,090; the LGED fund totals $220,600; total CSEPP funds are $500,000; and the total economic development funds are $332,100.
Magistrate Jeff Book motioned to approve the second reading, with a second from Magistrate Teddy Benge.
— Magistrates unanimously approved a pay increase for county employees. Westerfield explained that for hourly employees there will be a 50-cent raise per hour. Salaried employees will receive a 1.65 percent increase in salary.
— The Fiscal Court unanimously approved the new health, dental and vision insurance plan, which Westerfield said was with Humana. He added there will be a six percent increase in those rates.
— Two county roads received their first approval to be added to the county road system — J. Crews Road and Harrod Branch Road. The next step for these two roads is a public hearing and then a final decision at the next Fiscal Court meeting.
A third road received its second approval to join the county road system — Cruise Ferry Road. Westerfield said no one showed for a public hearing concerning this road.
Magistrates unanimously approved all three roadways to be added to the county’s system.
— Several people were appointed or re-appointed to various county committees Thursday. Magistrates unanimously approved the following appointments. Sumita Chatterjee has been reappointed as a trustee to the Laurel County Public Library board for a four-year term.
Scott Smith was approved as a restaurant representative to the London-Laurel County Tourism Committee for a three-year term.
Jim Handy was appointed as a Chamber of Commerce representative to the London-Laurel County Tourism Committee for a three-year term.
Caner Cornett and Bob Adkins were reappointed to the London-Laurel County Tourism Committee for three-year terms as motel representatives.
Chuck Johnson was reappointed to the 911 Board to fulfill the balance of a term expiring in January 2015.