Wayne County’s commissioners are reviewing a preliminary contract with HELP the Animals for the Richmond shelter to accept the county’s stray and abused animals.

Ron Cross, the county attorney, presented the draft during commissioners’ Jan. 3 meeting. It calls for the county to pay $4,000 a month to cover a $200-per-animal cost. The sides would make quarterly adjustments if the county has under- or overpaid.

Commissioners continue to have questions about how best to shelter strays within the $50,000 budgeted for 2024. For 2023, commissioners provided Animal Welfare League a $42,000 donation, but the shelter lacked space and often refused to accept county animals. That prompted commissioners to seek a contract for 2024, something that the Animal Welfare League would not do.

Commissioner Jeff Plasterer wondered if commissioners should contract with multiple shelters in case space at HELP becomes an issue. Commissioners don’t think they have an accurate representation of how many animals the county might place in a year, because the known space problems kept animals from being captured or seized.

Commissioner Mary Anne Butters, who attended the meeting by phone, objected to the contract not including cats. Commissioner Brad Dwenger, who has coordinated conversations with HELP, said cats have not been a problem and do not concern Sheriff Randy Retter or Jesse Moore, the county’s animal control officer. Dwenger said he would approach HELP about including cats, and Plasterer said cats should not cost the county as much as dogs.

Legal services

Commissioners approved a 2024 contract for legal services with Boston Bever Forrest Cross & Sickmann for $98,900.

The Wayne County Health Department contributes $20,000 to that cost, because Cross also began assisting it during 2020.

Cross, who has worked more than two decades with the county, and the commissioners discussed having another member of the firm also become familiar with the county’s legal needs.


Plasterer was elected to continue as commissioners president during 2024, and Dwenger was elected as vice president.

“I think we had a very good 2023; looking forward to a very good 2024,” Plasterer said. “A lot of things in the works with many issues across the county, including the HELP (Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program) process that we’re working through and projects that we’re working with the city of Richmond on. I believe we’re poised to do some really great things in 2024.”

Commissioners also reappointed Andy Roberts to the Centerville plan commission and board of zoning appeals.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 10 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.