By NICKIE SIMPSON
There are two major projects Marshall County Commission Chairman James Hutcheson wants to finish — the construction of the county animal shelter and the county jail expansion.
“I have one shot to do them, and I want to make sure to do it right,” he said. “I feel good about it.”
Recently, Hutcheson met with the county engineering department to look over the proposed plans for the animal shelter. Unfortunately, there was a “little misunderstanding,” because he said there was a mistake. The expansion to the preexisting building was meant to be on the outside of the structure, but he said the plans had it on the inside.
“We got that ironed out,” he said about the shelter’s plans. “So, we’re going back to the architect and getting the cost of it.”
According to Hutcheson, the architect should be on the agenda for the commission’s consideration during its next meeting Wednesday, Sept. 11. In preparation for next year, he said he’s budgeted for the cost of the shelter’s construction and the salary for an additional animal control employee.
“We’re moving along just as fast as we can,” he said. “My next step is to select the architect — should be done within the next two weeks.”
Even though it isn’t currently finished, he said the shelter is housing animals. Finding the animals homes and keeping the county a “no kill” county is a top priority, he said.
“I anticipate it will probably be a year before it’s completed, because we’ll have to bid it out,” he said about the shelter. “In the long run, it should pay for itself. It will save a lot of animals. We can pick up animals and house them for very minimal cost.”
Once the animal shelter’s construction is completed, he said there will be an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony for the
community to attend and help celebrate the accomplishment.
“I’m shooting for a no kill county, and that’s what we’ve been doing,” he said. “My goal is to be the top — the best animal shelter in the area.”
As for the county jail, he said it’s taking time to make sure they get it right.
“I lay awake at night thinking about the jail,” he said. “It’s still big time on my mind. I’ve only got one shot to do it right, and it absolutely worries me to death.”
Currently, he said the commission is looking into selecting architects for the jail project and talking to bonding companies about the financial condition of the county.
“I preach and preach and preach that the financial condition of the county is so important,” he said. “I’m going to have to hire eight or 10 new corrections officers at least — that’s another half a million dollars on top of just paying for the jail.”
Even though he’s not exactly sure where the funding will come from, he said the county’s tax revenue from internet sales would be “the only thing saving the county.” The jail expansion is still in its early stages, and he said the commission would continue to be transparent as it handles the project.
“I’m going to take my time on the jail,” he said. “Right now, we’re under renovations over there. We’re putting a new roof, and we’ve got a half million dollars on the insides. I want to get that completed before we start adding on to the new jail. I anticipate it’ll be early next year before we do anything major.
“This will probably be the most important thing that I’ve done since I’ve been here — the jail will be the biggest thing,” he said.