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Wilson County could receive $200,000 for its new animal shelter thanks to an appropriation in the state budget.
Sen. Rick Horner, R-Nash, secured the funds after consulting with County Manager Denise Stinagle and several county commissioners to see if state assistance could accelerate the new shelter’s construction.
“That really matters to a lot of people there,” Horner said.
The Senate Education Committee co-chairman credited news stories and editorials in The Wilson Times with keeping the issue in the public eye.
“I got tired of reading about it in the paper,” he joked. “I wanted them to go ahead and build the thing.”
Horner previously represented Wilson before court-ordered redistricting in 2017 changed the boundaries of Senate District 11, which formerly included portions of Wilson, Nash and Johnston counties. He moved back to his childhood home in Bailey to run in the redrawn district, which now encompasses all of Nash County and northern and western Johnston County.
The appropriation is included in the budget the General Assembly passed Thursday, but Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed that spending plan Friday. The governor and legislative leaders are sparring over issues including the expansion of Medicaid, school construction and tax breaks.
Lawmakers could hold votes to override Cooper’s veto this week. If the votes fall short, leaders of each chamber will likely meet with Cooper and his staff in an effort to hammer out a compromise budget.
Assistant County Manager Ron Hunt said Horner is aware of the county’s need to build a new animal shelter in Wilson County and has been closely following its progress.
“We are appreciative of his work to get additional funds to benefit this project,” Hunt said. “This does not change our plans in proceeding with the location, and it can only help us progress toward building the new animal shelter as funded in the 2019-20 county budget. If the state budget is approved with these funds, it is a boost that will benefit our existing shelter plans.”
Last month, county commissioner took significant steps toward making the new animal shelter a reality.
Commissioners appropriated an additional $370,000 to the animal shelter’s capital reserve fund, bringing the current fiscal year’s total to $700,000.
Stinagle also earmarked another $100,000 for that same reserve fund for the 2019-20 budget, which brings the total to $800,000.
The move happened after commissioners voted unanimously to confirm the new shelter’s site along N.C. 42 East, which is on county-owned land. Stinagle is currently waiting on firm numbers regarding the new shelter’s cost, along with specific plans.
The developments also came after the current animal shelter on Airport Drive failed a state inspection. Maintenance staffers have been working on repairs to bring the facility into compliance. The state inspector visited the shelter recently to review the progress of the repairs, county officials said.
“We will continue to maintain a place of safety and wellbeing for animals in our care until the new shelter is built,” Hunt said. “The state seemed pleased that the new shelter was funded this year, and they know we are progressing on those plans.”