Vicksburg board approves proposal for animal shelter

Published 1:22 pm Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Board of Mayor and Alderman have approved a proposal totaling $117,300 with architect Michael Bernard with Animal Shelters of America for the design and construction administration of a new animal shelter for Vicksburg.

The approval came at the board’s Wednesday meeting. City Attorney Nancy Thomas said the city will sign a contract with Bernard at a later date. She said he sent the proposal “to make sure everyone was in agreement.”

According to the proposal, the cost of the design and construction administration is not to exceed $97,750, with expenses not to exceed $19,550. The board has been working with Arlington, Texas-based Animal Shelters of America to develop a new shelter on a property at 4845 U.S. Highway 61 South. The property and the existing building that will be used for the shelter were donated by the Ernest Thomas family for the purpose of building the animal shelter. 

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Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said the project budget is $1 million and will be paid using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Flaggs said after the meeting the act allows cities to receive funding to replace lost revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had lost revenue out of the general fund for the previous year (2020) and going forward,” he said. “We’re going to turn that around and reallocate it (to the animal shelter project).”

The city, Flaggs said, will receive $2.4 million in ARPA funds this year and $2.4 million in 2022. “It’s (the shelter) going to be built over 12 months so we’ll do $500,000 out of this year and $500,000 out of the next year,” he said. “It’s a great design; everybody’s fingerprints are on it.”

City officials have been considering a new animal shelter for several years. The current shelter is 50 years old and sits on a tract of land on Old Mill Road adjacent to the Vicksburg Fire Department’s training center, in the Kings community.

The current shelter is in a flood zone and is subject to being surrounded by flash flooding. It was threatened by the 2019 flood and animals had to be evacuated in the 2011 flood. City officials have considered several potential sites, including city property in a section of Cedar Hill Cemetery off Sky Farm Avenue.

On Feb. 21, 2020, Flaggs, other city officials and city resident Marilyn Terry, who provided a recommendation for a shelter building, toured the former U.S. Rubber Reclaiming plant off U.S. 61 South, which is owned by the city and located in a flood zone, and a site in the 2100 block of Oak Street, south of Depot Street.

Problems with the Oak Street property forced city officials to remove the site from consideration. In August of this year, the board considered a 14.3-acre tract at 4211 Rifle Range Road owned by Cappaert Holdings LLP, but the city was unable to afford the $1.5 million to buy the land and build the shelter.

The Thomas family offered to donate the property and metal building on U.S. 61 South in September.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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