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Published Sat, Feb 09, 2013 08:00 PM
Modified Mon, Feb 11, 2013 09:57 AM

Board mourns then goes to work

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- dquizon@newsobserver.com

This month’s county board of commissioners meeting began on a somber note, with Chairman Jeff Carver taking a brief moment to recognize the late Wade Stewart.

“It’s with a very heavy heart that we sit before you today,” Carver said. “We’ll always miss him, and he’ll always be in our thoughts.”

But commissioners went no further than that. Stewart liked to keep things moving, Carver recalled, so in his memory, commissioners went straight into business after a moment of silence. They agreed to replace the roof at West Clayton Elementary School and heard about some major changes at the county animal shelter.

Roof replacement

Commissioners gave the school district the green light to replace a portion of the roof at West Clayton Elementary School, a project that will cost $700,000. Commissioners gave the school system permission to move money from operating expenses to capital outlay.

Heavy rains last year damaged the section of roof over the school’s office.

Superintendent Ed Croom presented the proposal to commissioners Monday morning. Croom said the damaged had been a major disruption this year. “Every time we have a rainstorm up there, we have to send crews … to blow water off the roof,” he said.

The roof is more than 30 years old. Its flat design, now considered outdated, makes it susceptible to this kind of damage, as Commissioner Ted Godwin pointed out. “Thirty-five years ago, a wise man told me a flat roof is eventually going to leak,” he said.

Commissioner DeVan Barbour said this will be an issue at schools throughout the county. He asked Croom to see how many schools have these outdated roofs and come back to the board. “At some point in time, these flat roofs are going to have to be dealt with,” he said.

Shelter changes on track

Ernie Wilkinson, director of the county animal shelter, said the volunteer program at the shelter is on track to begin this month. The program was dismantled last year but reinstated after a vocal group of animal-rights activists pushed for it.

Since asking for volunteers last month, the county has received 16 applications. That was enough for Wilkinson to schedule the shelter’s first volunteer orientation on Feb. 16. The will orientation help familiarize volunteers with safety procedures and protocols for walking, feeding and interacting with animals.

The shelter has also shifted its stance on euthanasia. Late last year, after months of pressure from activists, Wilkinson agreed to switch from using the gas chamber exclusively to using it only for the most dangerous animals. Most animals will be put to death by lethal injection, which animal-rights advocates consider more humane.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Wilkinson announced the shelter would switch exclusively to injections. He and commissioners had initially balked at activists’ demand they switch completely to injections, saying the gas chamber was a safer method of putting down aggressive animals.

Commissioner Allen Mims rehashed the concern Monday. “I’m glad to hear you’re switching to lethal injection,” he said. “But I’ve always supported having a gas chamber out there.”

Wilkinson said his staff had the equipment and the training to safely put down dangerous animals using lethal injection. “I’ve got enough faith in my team and the techniques they’ve developed,” he said.

Soccer fields delayed

Last month, the county planning board heard a request from the Gonzalez family of the Corinth-Holders community to put several soccer fields on its property. But their neighbors on Eatmon Road have been vocal in opposing the request.

The planning board, which advises commissioners, recommended against approving the request. The family promised to fight that recommendation at this month’s commissioners’ meeting, but planning director Berry Grey said the family couldn’t make it. Commissioners will wait until next month to make a decision.

Quizon: 919-836-5768

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