Leader Blues

Friday, March 28, 2008

TOP STORY > > Beebe asks state to help fund pound

Leader staff writer

The Beebe City Council Monday night approved a grant application that could bring in $150,000 to build an animal shelter on Dewitt Henry Drive, which would finally enable the city to move impounded dogs from pens located outside the city limits in Lonoke County.

If approved, the grant through the Arkansas Rural Development Commis-sion would bring money from the state’s general improvement fund to Beebe.

Mayor Mike Robertson said this week that there is grant money available and Beebe might as well be one of the cities that gets it.

He gives credit for the application work to Jackie Young, his assistant whohas taught herself how to write grants.

Young said she started working on the grant in February when she wrote a letter to Butch Calhoun, director of the Arkansas Department of Rural Services, asking to be allowed to request five times the $30,000 maximum allowed for state-funded, community enhancement projects.

With that permission granted, she asked local builders to provide estimates for the project which is expected to cost $170,000. Also included in the grant request that she mailed Tuesday was a petition signed by city residents and letters of support from Cong. Vic Snyder, Sen. John Paul Capps, Rep. Mark Pate and Lee McClain, a Beebe resident and newspaper owner.

It is common knowledge among longtime area residents that Beebe’s animal shelter is little more than a dog pound. Although Horace Taylor, the city’s animal control officer, often keeps the dogs longer than the 10 days allowed by city law and adopts many through a rescue organization, the pens where they are kept are about two miles outside the city and are not set up for viewing by people who might want to adopt the animals.

Young said the distance from the city also makes it more difficult for Taylor to respond quickly to complaints.

If the grant is approved, the shelter will be built beside Beebe Veterinary Hospital.

Young also has applied for a $7,000 grant from Lowe’s, a home-improvement store, to build a gazebo in the First Street Park, located near the health department and city hall. The local 4-H Club also is working on that project and plans to buy playground equipment.

Young said she is hopeful that both grants will be approved in the near future.