Vicksburg board approves agreement for animal shelter architect

Published 1:44 pm Monday, January 10, 2022

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen have approved a $117,300 contract with a Fort Worth, Texas, architect for the design and construction administration of a new animal shelter for Vicksburg.

The board approved the contract with architect Michael Bernard Animal Shelters of America for the project Monday.

“We’ve got our engineer and now we’ve got our architect,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said after the vote.

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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 Ernest Thomas family donated the property for the purpose of building the animal shelter and the existing building that will be used for the shelter. The project cost is estimated at $1.4 million.

According to a floor plan for the shelter accompanying the agreement, the building will include animal receiving and grooming areas, separate medical isolation areas for cats and dogs, an area for puppies and small dog breeds, a total of 15 dog runs and a customer service area and lobby.

City officials have been considering a new animal shelter for several years. The current shelter is more than 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 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 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 2021.

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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