Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24, 2014 MH Humane Society with Two New Members Approves Contract with City and County

The Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society Board gave its approval yesterday to a proposed contract with the city and county.

And the Humane Society apparently has two new members--Sonya Shipley who was appointed by County Mayor Bill Brittain and Wayne Nesmith who was appointed by City Mayor Danny Thomas.

The city already has a contract with the Humane Society. The County makes an annual donation of  over  $130,000 for the operation of the animal shelter but has no contract with the Humane Society.

With the uproar at the shelter including alleged embezzlement of funds, poor record-keeping, a lapse of workmen's comp insurance that resulted in a large payout to an individual that had to be paid with animal care funds, and the questionable hiring of a close associate of Board member Larry Baker as shelter director, the Board has hunkered down and fought to retain control of animal care in Morristown and Hamblen County.

The County Commission approved a contract with the Humane Society several weeks ago and gave the Humane Society until Nov. 1, 2014, to approve the contract as drafted or county funding would cease.

County Mayor Bill Brittain, County Attorney Chris Capps, Commissioner Doe Jarvis, City Mayor Danny Thomas, City Attorney Dick Jessee, and City Administrator Tony Cox worked on that contract. County Commission made one change to the contract before passing it.

The Humane Society, on which Mayor Bill Brittain serves an ex officio member, balked.

Mayor Brittain and Mayor Thomas  worked with Humane Society Attorney Scott Reams to draft another contract that the current Humane Society Board has indicated it is willing to sign---albeit reluctantly.

And amid all this uproar, the current Humane Society Board is sending out ballots (2nd time) on Friday (Sept 26) for the election of a new Board with both current members and challengers on the ballot. Ballots are due back at the offices of Purkey, Carter, Compton, Swann & Carter, CPAs, on October 8. 

One current Board member. Diane Fox, made an interesting and important comment yesterday. She noted that with the upcoming election of a new Board--which may or may not include members of the current Board--why the rush by the current Board to approve the contract.

Why indeed?

Her very logical thought was that the new Board that will be in place shortly after October 8 and well-before the Nov 1 county deadline should make the decision on any contract.

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