Road and bridge projects and solutions to address the large dog population at the county’s dog shelter were top business topics during the Richland County commissioners’ meeting on Thursday.
The commissioners authorized County Engineer Adam Gove to enter into contracts with the Ohio Department of Transportation to fund bridge replacement projects on Champion and Coursen Roads and a pavement widening project on Lexington-Springmill Road.
They also authorized spending up to $49,999 in county capital rollover funds for new large dog crates and agreed to reduce some fees to encourage adoption of the shelter’s large number of dogs.
The board accepted a recommendation from Dog Warden Missy Houghton to cut seizure fees in half and reduce adoption fees for the month of August.
“We asked what was the biggest impediment to adoption and why are we so numerous and the biggest thing we heard was ‘it’s too expensive to come and take my dog out right now,'” Houghton said.
“We are fighting with the dogs”
Seizure fees that are $30 for the first day and $10 for each day thereafter will be reduced to $15 for the first day and $5 per day thereafter. Adoption fees will be reduced from $199 per dog to $150 — $125 for seniors and veterans. Both changes will take effect from August 1 to August 31.
“Right now people are struggling with adoption fees and we are struggling with dogs. This is a good way to meet in the middle.” Houghton said. “Our biggest hope is that if we lower the seizure fees, people will come looking for their dogs.”
The adoption fee includes one spay or neuter, the first round of vaccinations, deworming, microchipping, and one year’s license fees.
Houghton said the shelter has 78 dogs despite a summer adoption event last weekend and has had an average of between 68 and 80 dogs over the past four or five months. She told the board that 40 to 50 dogs is a “comfortable” number for staff to properly clean and conduct behavioral tests.
Houghton said that while the “large portion” of the dogs at the shelter are “pit bull types,” officials do not adopt dogs that are individually designated vicious with a history of unprovoked fighting.
“They are good dogs, but you have to know the type of dog you want and the level of activity,” he said. “I tell people not to look at race. There are some specific things with breeds but, in general, look at the characteristics of that dog, the behavior of that dog, as opposed to the breed of that dog.”
Houghton will also hold after-hours events every Tuesday in August. The event will be from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday and until 6:30 p.m. on the remaining Tuesdays in August.
Ongoing efforts to reduce the dog population, Houghton said, include joining the Best Friends Network to help ship dogs and looking to join Pets for Patriots to cover the adoption fee for veterans. She will also seek a spay and neuter grant through proceeds from Ohio license plate sales.
Commissioners also approved a contract with Shor-Line Kennels of Kansas City to replace the kennels on the north side of the building with 10 larger units. The estimated cost of $48,074 will be approximately $6,000 more than the original estimate discussed in late June because the project now includes a company recommendation to replace existing galvanized drainage pipes with stainless steel pipes.
Delivery time for the new cages is expected to be four to six weeks.
$1.5 million approved to replace two bridges
Regarding the engineer’s requests, commissioners gave the go-ahead to move forward with an estimated $660,000 project to replace a bridge on Champion Road north of London West Road in Plymouth Township and a bridge on Coursen Road over Steel Run in Perry. Township at an estimated cost of $870,000.
The largest project in terms of scope and cost will be adding six feet of paved shoulder and two feet of unpaved shoulder to both sides of the Lexington-Springmill between Home Road and Marion Avenue at an estimated cost of $1.6 million. The project coincides with one carried out several years earlier to the south of that area.
Federal and/or state funds will cover around 90% of the three projects.
Gove said the Champion Road project is expected to be completed in early 2024 under a rapid response design-build track, while the Coursen Road bridge is expected to be completed in late 2024 or early 2025. The Lexington upgrade- Springmill Road, which includes some off-road rights-purchase, is expected to take place in calendar 2025.
Commissioners Chairman Tony Vero suggested that part of the $240,000 local match for the projects could be covered by using part of the $900,000 in American Bailout Act funds set aside as revenue replacement for the Engineer’s office. . Gove said he and county business manager Andrew Keller are looking at ways to use that money.