By Fred Woods
At this week’s Lee County Commission meeting District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham and local veterinarian, Dr. Buddy Bruce, presented a proposal for a Lee County low-cost “Spay-Neuter Your Pet” (SNYP) program, to be implemented in FY 2017. The overall program goal is to reduce pet overpopulation in the county. The specific aim of the SNYP program is to help members of the community who cannot otherwise afford to spay or neuter their pets. Bruce and Ham have put considerable time and effort in developing this program which seems to be gaining considerable support in the county.
As proposed, SNYP will be available to Lee County residents with household incomes $20,000 or less or adult pet owners with Medicaid cards. Qualifying pet owners will be charged $5 per cat and $10 per dog. In addition, since Alabama law requires annual rabies vaccination, rabies shots will be given for $10 per animal, the cost of the vaccine.
The program will be financed by $15,000 annual contributions from each of Lee County’s four units of government: Lee County Commission and the cities of Auburn, Opelika and Smiths Station. SNYP will be administered by the Lee County Animal Control Officer, Chris Bozeman.
The mayors of the three cities have already “bought in” to the program and will shortly be asking their respective city councils to commit the necessary funds. Opelika Mayor Fuller, in fact, wanted to know if the program could be started sooner, like Jan. 1. The response was, probably not that quickly, but before Oct. 1, 2016, if funding could be obtained and physical arrangements put in place. The Lee County Humane Society Board has enthusiastically endorsed SNYP and has committed to publicizing the program.
SNYP is heavily modeled after a similar, very successful program in Limestone County (Athens), Alabama, where the excess pet population has been cut in half over a nine-year period. The Limestone County veterinarian, as well as Bruce and Ham, believe that Lee County, by learning from Limestone’s experience, can show substantially quicker results.
In addition to Dr. Bruce, local vets Dr. Gary Hunt, Dr. Jere Colley and several other veterinary clinics have agreed to participate in SNYP. They will be reimbursed the difference between the $5 or $10 cost and a fee schedule rate. Current thinking is to use the same, or a very similar, fee schedule as the Alabama Animal Alliance, a low cost spay-neuter clinic operating in Montgomery. They charge $45 and $65 for male and female cats and $65 and $80 for male and female dogs. Somewhat higher fees are charged for larger dogs.
The commission voted unanimously to allocate $15,000 to SNYP in the FY 2017 budget.
In a meeting last October, District 1 Commissioner Sheila Eckman presented the commission a petition signed by a number of citizens representing various historical boards, societies and commissions asking that the commission appoint a group of interested citizens to explore the feasibility of establishing a Lee County Archive.
The group’s report was presented last night by its chair, Delos Hughes, retired professor of politics and part-time resident of Auburn. In brief, the report found the establishment of an archive both feasible and desirable, that the archive should be located in Opelika, that the archive be a combined institution of Lee County and the three county municipalities, that there be an archives board appointed by the commission in consultation with the municipalities to oversee the management and operation of the archive and that day-to-day operations be carried out by a trained archivist hired by and responsible to the archives board.
The commission voted unanimously to set up a Lee County Archives Board with the cooperation and assistance of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. The actual establishment of an archive would require state legislative action. The legislation establishing the Morgan County Archive was offered as a guide.
Michael Bullington, representing the Auburn University Student Government Association, requested establishing an additional polling place in Auburn near the AU campus as a means of increasing student voting, a long-time problem. Despite the desirability of a measure to increase voter turnout in young people, it appears that state legislation requiring voters to vote in the county where they live is a major barrier.
In other action the commission
*granted permission for the Lee County Kiwanis Club to use the county meeting facility on Dec. 22 and 23,
*approved LCSO to apply for an MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected ) vehicle through the federal “1033” program. If acquired, the vehicle will be used for natural disaster rescues and in law enforcement situations involving active shooters,
*approved a restaurant retail liquor license for El Gallo Mexican Restaurant in Beauregard,
*accepted Oliver Trails Subdivision, Phase II, streets in extreme southeast Lee County for permanent county maintenance, adding 0.22 miles to the county maintenance rolls,
*authorized execution of a federal aid agreement for bridge replacement over Osanippa Creek on LR 375 in northeast Lee County, an ATRIP project, and
*approved the FY 2016 holiday schedule for county employees.