By Bonnie Culverhouse
Some say the test of a compassionate government is how they treat the lowest among those under their jurisdiction.
If that’s the test, Minden may need to take a trip to its own animal shelter to see if it’s a successful government.
During last Monday’s meeting, the city council voted 3-2 not to place on the agenda a grant item that would benefit the Minden Animal Shelter. A unanimous vote is required to put something on the agenda during a regular council meeting.
“We’ve already been promised the money,” said Building Official Brent Cooley, referring to a $75,000 grant for improvements. “We just don’t actually have the check in hand. We just recently learned we have to spend it before June 30 or we lose it. It takes time … 30 days to go through the public bid process. And right now, we only have 60 days left.”
District C Councilman Vincen Bradford said his reason for voting against putting the grant on the agenda was because he feels more discussion needs to take place.
“We haven’t talked about this,” Bradford said. “We don’t know if we are going to build a new one or renovate the old one.”
Mayor Terry Gardner disagreed.
“Yes, we have,” he said. “We made a decision.”
“Who made a decision? You and Pam?” Bradford responded, referring to District E Councilwoman Pam Bloxom. “I’m done.”
“I’m done, too,” Gardner said. “You are just embarrassing yourself now.”
Previous council talks, also controversial in nature, centered around placement of a new animal shelter.
In October, the City of Minden voted to enter into a cooperative agreement with the State of Louisiana for the grant funds for the relocation and rehabilitation of the shelter.
In November, Minden City Council members agreed unanimously to accept the $75,000 grant after the previous month’s motion was amended to require council approval for the site.
District A Councilman Wayne Edwards – whose district is where the shelter is currently located – District B Councilwoman Terika Walker-Williams and District C Councilman Bradford pushed to keep the shelter in its current location on Dianne Street near Ewell Park.
Sen. Robert Mills enabled the city to apply for the grant, but that money will only get things started.
“We are looking at a $350,000-project,” Cooley said. “We will have to get donations to pay for the difference.”
All five councilpersons were contacted and asked if they have toured the current Animal Shelter facility. Bloxom said she has not, but District D councilman Michael Roy said he spent several hours there and was disturbed by the conditions.
“It’s horrible,” Roy said. “The drainage is nonexistent.”
However, he believes the money can be attained to complete the project.
“We have so many animal lovers here, we can get the money,” Roy said.
By publication time, Edwards, Williams-Walker and Bradford had not responded to the question.
A special workshop and council meeting have been scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday, April 11. The agenda includes the authority to advertise for bids to build a new Minden Animal Shelter.
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