Sikeston animal shelter has contract with city terminated

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

SIKESTON - Concern over animal safety and careless administration of the Sikeston Area Humane Society has prompted Sikeston city officials to take action.

City Manager Jonathan Douglass sent a letter to Cody Mitchell of the Sikeston Humane Society on May 19 terminating the Animal Shelter Housing Agreement effective June 19 for breach of contract.

In three consecutive inspections by the Department of Agriculture, the Sikeston Area Humane Society received violations for failure to pay fines. Since April 20 the Shelter has operated without a license.

Some of the violations are due to failure to report the disposition of animals to the state. Some 218 dogs remain unaccounted for in the last reports filed with the state.

In his letter, Douglass explained that "the city cannot turn over found and surrendered animals to an unlicensed facility.

"The city has lost confidence in the ability of the Sikeston Area Humane Society to manage the city-owned shelter facility, to manage public funds responsibly, to publicly represent the city and to serve the human and animal populations of Sikeston," said Douglass in the letter. The city of Sikeston is prepared to take over operations of the shelter as soon as it is vacated by the Humane Society.

Douglass said the city will work on establishing an advisory board and drafting an ordinance to give accountability and to provide support for animals in the shelter.

The city awaits a reply from the Humane Society advising when the animals and the facility will be turned over to city control.

In the meantime, an animal control officer will regularly visit the Humane Society to ensure that the animals have provisions.

Also at Monday's Sikeston Council meeting, the Sikeston City Council unanimously approved entering into a continuation contract with Sonny's Solid Waste for twice weekly trash pick up for $21.75 per month. Under the new contract , SSW would provide 90-gallon containers, enhanced drop-off sites and there will be no alley way trash pick up.

The council made some headway on the Sikeston Rail Trail project. Waters Engineering and Gateway Design of St. Louis will commence work on the Sikeston Rail Trail, starting from the downtown area to Main Street along the former railway tracks.

Bryan Dial, of the Sikeston Street Department, obtained approval from the Council for purchase of attachments to a bobcat for mowing, street grading and asphalt work. Cost of the attachments was $25,798.50.

Sikeston has approved the purchase of a battery-operated mosquito fogger from Univar USA for $8,400, which was the low bid. The battery-operated fogger is a much quieter operation than previous units which used a fuel-powered engine.

The city's liability coverage was renewed for the last of a five-year contract with Newton Insurance. The liability insurance premium for Sikeston was approved in the amount of $387,968.

Linda Lowes, director of governmental services for Sikeston, announced that Jeff Sutton resigned from the Board of Municipal Utilities board. Bob Smith was unanimously approved as his interim replacement.

The Sikeston Library Board will have a new member. Carolyn Harris was approved to replace Connie Thompson, who had served two consecutive three-year terms. Lisa Lawson and Susanne Chitwood were approved for second three-year terms. Members of the Sikeston Library Board of Trustees may only serve two consecutive three-year terms after which they are required to be replaced.

The Council also approved an expenditure at Lincoln Park of approximately $30,000 for resurfacing which would include work on the park's basketball court.

In addition, the Council discussed the need for public restrooms at the downtown city park without reaching the final decision on the matter. Members of the public expressed the need and importance of having bathrooms available for the public at the park. No decision has been made as to the type of facility which might be made available.

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