The Letcher Fiscal Court has approved a bid submitted by Summit Engineering of Pikeville for architectural services to build the long awaited “no kill” animal shelter to serve the county.
Judge/Executive Jim Ward told the court during a special meeting Tuesday that Summit submitted the only bid. Ward said he discussed the matter with members of the Letcher County Humane Society and they approved the design submitted by Summit. He added that the county has $300,000 to complete the shelter which will eventually house up to 50 dogs and around 20 cats.
Ward said the shelter will house animals, perform spay and neuter operations, and serve as a holding center until animals can be adopted. There will also be room around the center to keep a few horses. In response to a question from District One Magistrate Bobby Howard, Ward said he will meet with Humane Society members and Summit architects to determine specifics, such as placement of the septic tank, food storage, and a quarantine room. The county will also maintain its membership in the regional animal shelter in Hazard so it can send animals there that have to be euthanized due to poor health, communicable disease, and other reasons.
District Three Magistrate Codell Gibson asked Ward if there will be any limit on the length of the stay for each animal, and Ward replied that the Humane Society will work out those details. He also said the county regularly transports between 200 and 300 animals per month to the Hazard shelter at this time, and he anticipates substantial saving in gas costs by having the shelter in Letcher County. The vote to approve Summit Engineering as architectural provider was unanimous.
In other business, the court voted unanimously to add “Air Med” to the insurance packages of county employees and first responders. Judge Ward said the extra insurance will cost between $16,000 and $17,000 a year, about $3,000 more than the original estimate. The court also voted to approve the extra cost.
Ward said the current insurance will pay up to $7,500 for a trip to a hospital by helicopter and the Air Med insurance will pick up the rest of the cost, although he added, it is not actually insurance in the classical sense, but a membership. The county employees and first responders will be members in the organization, which acts like a cooperative, in the sense that each member’s dues pay for every flight. The Air Med membership also covers the family members of the county employees and first responders. Ward said it will take a while to compile a complete list of all those who are eligible, and the court authorized a check to be issued when the final tally is in.