Wayne County’s commissioners continue seeking solutions for stray and confiscated animals.

In 2023, the county had a relationship with Animal Welfare League, providing a $42,000 donation, but the shelter often did not have space to receive animals. Commissioner Brad Dwenger has opened a dialogue with HELP the Animals about a 2024 contract.

Dwenger reported during the Dec. 20 commissioners meeting that HELP has been receptive. The organization provided time for its board members to share their opinions, but Dwenger said responses had so far been positive.

HELP previously contracted with Richmond to receive its animals, but stopped working with the city, which places far more animals than the county. The city then began contracting with Henry County Humane Society, including 2023 when the city paid the shelter $41,200 for up to 400 animals.

Dwenger said HELP is entertaining the county’s inquiries because of the county’s lesser volume and HELP’s relationship with Jesse Moore, the animal control officer. Commissioner Mary Anne Butters warned against basing future need on past animal counts, because people did not call for animal control assistance knowing there was no space.

While discussions continue with HELP, the commissioners voted 3-0 to pursue a month-to-month contract with Animal Welfare League should the shelter commit to accepting animals. Animal Welfare League requested $4,000 a month, but commissioners favor a per-animal charge.

Explosion monument

The monument honoring victims of the 1969 downtown explosion sits on the northeast corner of the Wayne County government complex. Photo by Mike Emery

Resident Roxie Deer addressed commissioners about the condition of the downtown explosion monument on the northeast corner (East Main and South Fifth streets) of the county government complex.

She said the curved brick monument with a wreath that remembers the April 6, 1968, downtown explosions that killed 41 people needs maintenance. The bricks need cleaning, she said, and lettering is falling off. Some lettering that’s been replaced does not match in color. Deer’s plans include adding a boulder with a plaque listing the 41 victims’ names, plus landscaping.

Deer said the monument is personal to her because her mother’s sister was a victim, and young residents don’t know the history of the explosion and downtown reconstruction.

Some sponsors are lined up, but Deer said she would likely return to ask commissioners to support the project financially.

Butters said she had recently noticed that the monument could be better kept, and Dwenger said that if there is a memorial, it should be properly maintained.

Bid acceptances

Commissioners voted to accept bids as recommended by Mike Sharp, the county’s highway superintendent, for fuel, liquid asphalt, hot mix, stone and gravel and culvert pipes.

Bids had been opened during the Dec. 13 meeting.

For fuel, the county prefers locking in a fixed price for the entire year. Sharp said that’s cost the county money during two years, but the county has saved more than $1 million over more than 15 years using the fixed pricing.

Commissioners authorized contracting with Co-Alliance Cooperative for 60,000 gallons of fuel from its pumps. The bid price, which was from Dec. 6, was $2.83 for unleaded and $2.545 for diesel. The exact prices, however, will vary based on which day Sharp locks in the contract.

For fuel delivery to the highway department tanks, commissioners authorized using Co-Alliance for 30,000 gallons of diesel, which had a Dec. 6 price of $3.1525, and using Petroleum Traders Corporation of Fort Wayne for 17,000 gallons of unleaded with a Dec. 6 price of $2.4884.

Tourism board

Commissioners unanimously reappointed Beth Leisure, Pat Orzechowski and Jeff Plasterer to the Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau Board.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 3 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

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