ST. GEORGE – Architectural plans are nearly finished for a new county animal shelter intended to benefit both animals in need and inmates at the Purgatory Correctional Facility.
Washington County has no shelter to serve the unincorporated areas of the county. However, a plan to build one was announced in March 2016 at an organizational meeting.
Some inmates will be allowed to help build the shelter and, at the same time, learn some marketable skills through a vocational training program, Washington County Commissioner Zachary Renstrom said. Inmates will also get to help run the shelter once it is built.
Work release programs such as what is planned for the construction and maintenance of the animal shelter are very popular among inmates and past construction projects have been successful at giving inmates valuable work experience, Washington County Undersheriff Bart Bailey said previously.
Preliminary architectural plans are now 90 percent complete, Renstrom said, and are awaiting a final review by an animal shelter design specialist.
After that, the plans will be given to some local veterinarians for review to make sure the facility is both humane and as efficient as possible, Renstrom said.
The Southern Utah Homebuilders Association has expressed interest in partnering with Washington County; they will be consulted to try to come up with a more precise estimate of the final price.
“At that point, we have a really good idea on how much it’s going to cost – what it’s going to take,” Renstrom said.
Then fundraising can begin in earnest, Renstrom said. Naming rights will be up for grabs, both for the building itself and for rooms and other facilities within the shelter.
Original estimates put the total cost at nearly $2 million, but with community and volunteer support, the amount is expected to be much less. The county has committed to fund part of the shelter, as have private donors.
County staff will be used for the project and the homebuilders association will help line up volunteers for work on the shelter; individual parts of the project will be put out to bid, Renstrom said.
Finished construction plans are expected to be completed within a month, Renstrom said, but there is no estimated date for completion of the shelter.
“We’re bending over backward to build a really nice shelter for the lowest amount of money,” he said. “I’d hate to put a timeline on it.”
Anyone interested in volunteering, donating or otherwise supporting the shelter can contact Renstrom at 435-634-5700.