The Million Dollar Dog House

By Amanda Smith

“We don’t need to build a million dollar dog house.”

This statement gets thrown around a lot in connection with the proposed animal shelter; the implication being that we are building something to benefit pets and not people. However, a municipal animal shelter doesn’t serve animals. It serves humans. In addition to reuniting people with lost pets and getting dangerous dogs off the streets, there are many things animal control officers do that some of us may never see. They capture snakes and other wildlife in people’s homes, remove dead animals from the roads, rescue animals trapped under houses or in wells, send decapitated heads to the state lab for rabies testing, and much more. Their job is dirty, dangerous, and thankless.

Over thirty years ago, through a combination of research and trial and error, it had already been learned that by building and operating animal shelters differently, better results were achieved. The results included better working conditions for employees, better outcomes for the animals, and better services for the public. This led to a revolution in the design and operation of new shelters and the demolition of the old-style “dog pounds” that were the norm when the Marshall Shelter was built 50 years ago.

Experience showed that it was not only more humane to save animal lives than to end them, it was actually less expensive. This is part of the reason that the average U. S. shelter is now about 15 years old. Some states are still behind the curve on this, with Texas being one of the worst in terms of euthanasia rates. Think of that for a moment. Texas is one of the states with the highest kill rates to begin with, and we have the oldest and one of the highest kill rate shelters in this state. It doesn’t speak well of Marshall.

Another of the drivers of change came from recognition of the toll that shelter work was taking on employees, including depression and PTSD, and this issue is even more urgent than the stain on our city’s image. We have animal control officers – police department employees – whose job it is to protect and to serve us, and we are not giving them the work environment they deserve. 

Ironically, one part of the job is responsible for both the greatest emotional rewards and the deepest despair for shelter workers – dealing with homeless pets, including the constant requirement to kill healthy companion animals. We should, at the very least, try to lessen the burden they must bear for slaughtering healthy animals.   

Some argue that the cost of a low-kill shelter is too high. By comparison, the police department and fire station facilities cost $2.5 million each, over 10 years ago. Like them, the animal shelter is a municipal facility that is responsible for a core function of city government. A low-kill shelter can be built today for half the cost of just one of those. It isn’t a fancy dog house. It is a special-purpose government building that is intended to serve our community for decades to come. 

We need to build with the future in mind, and to place the welfare of the people who will be working there at the forefront of our thoughts. Could you do their job? Most of us couldn’t. Why would we expect them to live with the cheapest and least effective thing that can be built? Why not follow the example of other cities and do it right? To do it right, we must build what is needed. 

Most cities the size of Marshall are spending $2 to $3 million (or more) to build low-kill animal shelters. They have tight budgets too, but they realize that it’s important build what experts know they need to succeed. If Marshall builds a low-kill shelter for $1.2 million dollars it will be the least expensive facility of its kind built in a decade in this state.

So, when people say we don’t need to build a million dollar dog house, the answer is that we are not. We are building an effective and modern animal control facility. Our animal control officers would much rather be saving animals than killing them, and with the right facility that can be the normal outcome.

Another outcome of building the right facility lies in the ability to attract volunteers and donors, and to qualify for grants. A high-kill shelter won’t offer those benefits. It’s cheaper to build a slaughterhouse than a place of salvation but which one will make Marshall proud? And in the end which makes the most economic sense – save some money in building costs up front, but lose millions in grant and donor revenue over the life of the building? 

The answer is obvious, and that’s why for most of the last three decades cities across the country have embraced the low-kill paradigm and built shelters where lives are saved more than they are taken. It’s the ethically and economically sensible thing to do.

Sometimes making the responsible choice requires looking ahead. It’s time to look ahead, Marshall. We are not building a shelter for today. We are building an animal control facility that will serve our community for decades to come. Let’s get it right.

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Importance of a Community Animal Shelter

This is the full text of the Guest Column published on Wednesday in the Marshall News Messenger  

By Katie Jarl (Dec 26, 2018)

For more than six years, Marshall has been trying to determine what to do about its antiquated, 50-year-old animal shelter. Several years ago, I visited the shelter in Marshall myself. In my position as the Texas Senior State Director for the Humane Society of the United States, I have visited many shelters, and Marshall’s is one of the saddest and most outdated facilities I’ve encountered. It really is a relic from the past that is incapable of functioning to today’s standards. It should have been replaced decades ago. Unfortunately, it’s still in use because of arguments over money. Specifically, how much to invest.


I would like to make a point that many may not have considered but relates to the financial welfare of your community for years to come.
If you build the cheapest facility you can, you may end up losing huge amounts of money over the lifetime of the new shelter.

Why is that?


Most shelters rely heavily on grant funding.
National and local organizations are on the lookout for innovative programs and offer grants to shelters that are succeeding on various metrics or are capable of meeting the needs of the communities that they serve.


A while back, I saw two of the plans being considered; Scheme P and Scheme U.


The smaller plan (P) would struggle to meet these standards because it would be inadequate from the day it opened its doors.


It was only 1,000 square feet larger than your current 1,475 square foot shelter.


The other plan (U) had the capacity to serve your region and potentially achieve low-kill status.


At just over a million dollars, it was still quite inexpensive but would likely attract grant funding and would be seen by those on the outside as a sign of serious commitment by the local community.


If Marshall had built an adequate new shelter years ago, the town could have had several years of grant funding already in the shelter’s coffers.

This amount is lost forever now due to the delays, but if you spend enough to build the right kind of shelter, Marshall’s people and animals will benefit from this.


If you do not build a facility that meets your needs and is up to today’s standards, that money, and more importantly the lives of so many animals, will be lost to you forever.


Attempting to save money by under-building will cost you untold sums in the future.


I’ve seen communities make this mistake before and regret it.
Don’t be one of them. Build your shelter with the future in mind.
You aren’t building something for the next five years.


If history is any gauge you may be building it for the next fifty. Choose wisely.

————

Katie Jarl


Katie Jarl is the Texas Senior State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.

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Origin of Christmas on December 25th

By William “Doc” Halliday

Christmas, or Christmas Day is an annual celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.  This event is celebrated on December 25th in the United States and in many other countries.  However, most scholars do not believe the December 25th date.  The date is not given in the bible, not even the time of year. The biblical reference to shepherds tending their flocks at night when they receive the news of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8) might suggest the spring lambing season.  On the other hand, sheep might well have been enclosed in the cold month of December. 

The earliest historical recording of birthdays occurs in the bible.  Birthday celebrations are mentioned in the Bible on three separate occasions and, in each case, something terrible occurred. I use a Geneva Bible (1599) for my documentation.  In Genesis 40:20 the birthday of the Pharaoh of Egypt is referred to.  In Matthew 14:6 and in Mark 6:21, the birthday of Herod Antipater is referred to.  And, perhaps Job 1:4 is referring to the birthdays of Job’s sons.  Nowhere in the bible is the date of Jesus’ birth mentioned. 

The early Christians did not celebrate Christ’s birth because they considered the celebration of anyone’s birth to be a pagan custom.  For the same reason, ancient Jews did not celebrate birthdays.  The first century Jewish historian Josephus noted that Jewish families did not celebrate birthdays.  It was common for kings and rulers to have their horoscopes made by astrologers.  Their birthdays were considered very important omens of the future.  Thus birthdays started as a celebration for kings and deities.  It was a pagan celebration. 

Instead, early Christians celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Easter was the dominant celebration for members of the Christian faith.  As time passed, Jesus’ origins became of increasing speculation.  You can begin to see this shift in the New Testament. The earliest writings of both Paul and Mark make no mention of Jesus’ birth. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke provide familiar but quite different accounts of the event.  Still, neither Matthew nor Luke specifies a date for the birth of Jesus.

In about 200 A.D., Clement of Alexandria, a Christian teacher in Egypt, records a reference to the date Jesus was born. According to this man, several different days had been proposed by various Christian groups.  Interestingly, Clement doesn’t mention the December 25th date at all. 

In the fourth century, however, we find references to two dates that were widely recognized, and are now also celebrated as Jesus’ birthday.  These dates are December 25 in the Western Roman Empire and January 6 in the East, especially in Egypt and Asia Minor.  The celebration of Christmas by the modern Armenian Church remains on January 6.  However, for the vast majority of Christians December 25th prevails.  January 6 would eventually come to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany.  The Feast of the Epiphany commemorates the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. The period between the two dates became the holiday season which has become known as the 12 days of Christmas.

In 354 A.D., Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate the solstice as the anniversary of Christ’s birth. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun.  This was an effort to recruit pagans into the church.  These idol worshippers held pagan festivals to celebrate the “rebirth” of the sun when the days began to lengthen.  The solstice of course takes place on December 21st, so why do we celebrate December 25th?  The difference is due to the transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendars. 

For Christians, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is significant regardless of the day. 

Photo of the nativity scene is from interruptingthesilence.com

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80 Dogs Face Crisis Weekend; Humane Society Calls For Emergency Assistance From Community

By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute Editor

Newly minted vice president of the local humane society, Missy DeLong, issued a plea late Friday for help to rescue the 80 dogs at the organization’s shelter from the wet winter weather conditions expected this weekend.

Former President Caroline Wedding is no longer associated with what is known as the Dixie Humane Society, both Wedding and members of the Society’s board say.

“This is an emergency situation,” DeLong said in a telephone interview.

Dogs at the Humane Society’s shelter east of Jefferson were seen Friday with up to an inch of rain water in pens with excrement and wet blankets on the floors. In several cases tarps over the tops of pens were filled with water and appeared about ready to collapse on dogs underneath.

Click here to read the complete article 

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A Christmas Letter – 2018

December 1, 2018

Greetings,

Once again another year has slipped by and were it not for my journal I would be hard pressed to account for the time.

March found us dining at Don Cesar’s with my birthday twin. I don’t know how many more years we can make this pilgrimage but “Lord willing and if the creek don’t rise” (locals talk like this), we will be there this coming March. Click here to view St. Pete Beach gallery.

April was quite exciting. My local friend and travel buddy,Susan, and I popped across the “pond” if you call 11 hours in a plane “popping.”Destination England, Wales, and Scotland. The trip was out of this world. Ron won’t go anywhere that is cold or rainy. Needless to say, he didn’t accompany us.

In May we visited the Slot Canyons in Page, Arizona, and other local sites. This is an awesome area. I was totally blown away by the Slot Canyons. We went with a guide and a very small group. Like maybe 10 people or you won’t be able to experience the beauty. We also went out one day with a husband and wife—no one else–and they shared their land with us. I will never forget that day. No one else around for miles. We stood on the edge of the east rim of the Grand Canyon watching the Colorado river meander its way through the Canyon. Ron also got to shoot Cadillac Ranch. And we spent our last night on the road in Amarillo. On our way north we had dined at Crush, an outstanding restaurant with an unbelievable wine selection. We dined there again on our drive home. Click here to view the Horseshoe Bend Canyon gallery. Click here to view the X Canyon gallery. Click here to view east rim of the Grand Canyon galleryClick here to view Cadillac Ranch gallery.

In June I joined my friend, Denise, in Austin. An incredible trip. Austin is cool! Great sights and restaurants. We stayed at an AirB&B. Very pleasant experience. We positioned ourselves on the Ann Richards Bridge at the appropriate time to see bazillion bats fly out headed for dinner(mosquitoes). We used Lyft for transportation and it was affordable and convenient.

On June 24 we drove to Lebanon, MO, where we bought 6 pounds of love. Yes, one can buy love. In this instance it is a Noir poodle. This size is between a miniature and a standard. Should be less than 20 inches tall and 25 pounds. For our friends who believe I am crazy, I am. But for now, she motivates me to take daily walks. She is 8 months old and she looks like a black furry foal. All legs.  Click here to see pictures.

In September we made a quick trip to Virginia to attend myfriend Jonny’s special birthday and 50 years of wedded bliss party. It was a surprise created by her son and daughter-in-law and they really pulled it off. Great do-da.

We also visited my family, my sister and my two new grandchildren, Bella and Edward…goats.

Health wise it was an excellent year. I had broken a big toe and it had grown back with the top half sticking directly out at a left angle. Not too many shoes are made to compensate for this configuration, so I visited my podiatrist. He took one look and said he could fix that with no problem. How? His response, “I’m just going to lop it off but I’ll knock you out so you won’t hear the saw.” I now have a straight toe and the recoup time was minimal.

Ron went on his California sabbatical. I used to think the trip was good for him. He would return renewed with a positive outlook. Now I’m not sure he wants to come home. He certainly isn’t renewed. Northern California, or Marshall, Texas. Which would you pick?  Chick here to  see the Highway 1 gallery. Chick here to  see the Bohemian Bus Airbnb gallery.

However, Ron did find some time to design two new websites for his public…iEXPOSED.us covers art, entertainment and travel and is the platform for his photography. The other website is EastTexasExposed.com which is where he reports on local politics and current events. This allows him to pick on politicians starting at the ground level and going to the top. Let’s just say we are not invited to many social events particularly after Ron has released another volley from his painfully honest fingers. I keep asking him what became of good old hypocrisy. He said he is having too much fun and he never was much of a politically correct kind of guy.

In closing Ron and I trust you are comfortable and content and that the past year did not present too much “stuff” for you to handle.

 Be well my friends and Happy 2019.

                                                          Ron  and Deloris 

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Cost of Construction Management Services for the Memorial City Hall Renovation

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By Ron Munden

In October 2018 at meeting of the Marshall City Commission acting City Manager Jack Redmon told the Commissioners that the construction management fees were not included the cost numbers that he had presented to the Commission.

Based on data obtained by an open records request, at the end of October 2018 the city has spent $268,669.74 on construction management for Memorial City Hall (MCH).  The number includes the salary of Construction Supervisor Vance Walker — $197,689.38 and the salary of Support Services Coordinator Jeffrey Whiting — $37,749.48.

The number also includes the supplemental pay for to Jack Redmon.  During 2016, 2017 and 2018 Mr. Redmon salary was increased by $1000/month because of his construction manager responsibilities.  The total through the end of October 2018 is $33,230.88.

The cost of construction management is continuing.  Based on the latest reports one must assume these charges will continue through April 2019.  The predicted addition cost is $57,840.51.  This will bring the total construction management cost to $326,510.25.

Based on the numbers Mr. Redmon provided to the City Commissioners the cost overrun for the MCH renovation will be $453,874.  But Mr. Redmon said this did not include the construction management costs.  So, this takes the MCH cost overrun to $780,384.25 plus additional architectural fees that are not known at this time.

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