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Grand opening Saturday for
new Animal Reclaim Center

By Sherrie Williams
The City of Iowa Park and 4-B Community Development Corporation (CDC) will hold an open house for the Animal Reclaim Center, 1619 F.M. 368 South, from 10:30 a.m. till noon Saturday.
The public is invited to tour the facility which includes 14 indoor/outdoor kennels, dog runs, and cat accommodations.
Refreshments will be served.
The open house has been long awaited and comes years after the first concept of the facility was submitted by Animal Control Officer Matt Ohm.
The old Iowa Park Animal Reclaim Center had three bays in the kennel and no area for cats.
Over the years there was discussion about the need for another reclaim center, but funds were not available.
In June 2014 Iowa Park Animal Control Officer Matt Ohm sought preliminary cost estimates and floor plans for a 16-kennel animal reclaim center.
A fundraiser was held in early 2014 in an effort to start raising funds for the construction of a reclaim center.
The original cost estimate Ohm received was approximately $165,000.
Ohm and Iowa Park Police Chief Robert Johnson presented those numbers to the Community Development board (4-B) and they responded favorably.
However, the bidder failed to follow through with additional talks.
City Manager Jerry Flemming took his position in late December 2014 and less than a week later he met with Johnson and Melissa Britt, who had taken the animal control position, about the need for a kennel shelter. Ohm had become an Iowa Park Patrol Officer.
In January of 2015 a City Council Retreat was held where department heads shared with the council members the needs of their departments.
The need for an animal reclaim center was discussed and the council responded favorably.
In August 2015 the CDC board members pledged to spend funds for a reclaim center.
In September city staff toured a building at an undisclosed location to see if it could be converted into a reclaim center.
However, the city council took no action following an executive session to discuss purchase of property.
On October 19, 2015, Iowa Park Police Department and Animal Control seized approximately 30 dogs in an animal cruelty case.
A make shift shelter was built and two days later most of the dogs were stolen.
The dogs were recovered and returned to the makeshift shelter, where volunteers guarded the dogs for the next several days.
This incident caused a heightened interest from several residents and businesses in the need for an animal reclaim center.
Later that month the city again advertised for request for proposal (RFP) for an animal reclaim center.
A single bid of $399,000 was received. An amount, according to Flemming, that wasn’t affordable for the city or the CDC.
Flemming again met with the vendor and attempted to negotiate a scaled-down facility.
Because the proposals were considerably higher than anticipated both the original RFP and the scaled-down version were turned down by the council.
In January 2016 the CDC board members said they remained committed to fund the construction of a new animal reclaim center.
In March 2016 Flemming updated the CDC board and told them they were looking at a simplified in-house design using a steel building kit.
The city council again authorized Flemming to again request RFPs for construction of an animal shelter.
In July three bids were received, including a qualified bid for $299,000. The council rejected all three bids, because they exceeded the amount pledged for the construction.
Again, Flemming met with the qualified bidder to discuss a scaled-down version of the animal shelter.
In September the qualified bidder submitted a revised estimate of $165,000.
However, the company stopped communicating with the city and it was learned the business had closed.
In December of 2016 Ohm returned to animal control and a new facility was still close to his heart.
In August 2017 Ohm, Johnson, and Flemming updated the CDC board on the proposed shelter and explained they were back to the idea of a steel building kit.
In September 2017 the CDC board held a public hearing and approved $200,000 for the animal shelter.
The city council approved the CDC’s spending the funds.
The city then advertised for bids for assembling the kit.
The city council accepted a bid from Mandela Concrete Construction and Ohm has acted as project manager along with his duties as animal control officer and part-time police officer.
Throughout the years, Robin Morris, administration assistant to the police chief has been involved in organizing fundraisers for the animal reclaim center and there has been several donations made for the facility.
The approximately $6,000 donated funds as well as funds from fundraisers were used to enhance the cat room with equipment such as stainless steel kennels and a cat condo, as well as other equipment.
Fur Baby Shower
With the animal reclaim center opening a “shower” is being held to stock up on supplies for the cats and dogs (fur babies) that will be housed there.
Items needed include: wet and dry dog and cat food, kitty litter, small litter pans, dog and cat collars of all sizes, leashes, pet beds and blankets, laundry soap, Dawn dish soap, baby wipes, and various other cleaning supplies and disinfectants.