UPDATE: An 8-0 vote by the Hamilton County Commission Wednesday morning paved the way for the Humane Educational Society to get new facilities.

Commissioner Tim Boyd passed on the vote.

Wednesday's vote will fund $10-million of the expected $13-million project.

The current H.E.S. building is old and in some cases, beyond repair. This makes the group's mission of helping animals even more difficult. 

"We just could no longer be in these conditions. The animals are getting sick," said Bob Citrullo, executive director of H.E.S. "Commissioner Baker mentioned the smell in there and it's not because we don't clean. It's because of the sewage system we can't do anything about. There's so many problems. Everybody knows that we needed a new building. It was just how do we get to that point?"

H.E.S. staff and employees filled the commission meeting wearing red t-shirts to show support. 

"I've grown up there, so seeing them get a new shelter is amazing," said Jordon Taylor, H.E.S. foster coordinator. "We got what we wanted, so I'm very thankful." 

County Mayor Jim Coppinger recommended allocating money for H.E.S. to commissioners last week. He said the $10-million would come from a capital projects fund, which was created through the property tax increase last year. It was the first increase in the decade. 

The new 36,000 square-foot animal shelter will be near Amnicola Highway and Highway 153, occupying a 6.3 acre lot.

Citrullo says they plan to move as soon as possible.  

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PREVIOUS STORY: A $10-million animal shelter for the Humane Educational Society was the topic of discussion for Hamilton County commissioners on Wednesday.

The HES Executive Director says the building is falling apart and right now they are having difficulties keeping the animals safe because of the facility.

Bob Citrullo with HES says because the facility is so old it’s hard to keep it clean. This puts the animals at a greater risk of getting sick.

Built in the early 1900’s this building was once an orphanage. The owner also had a love for pets.

“So she tried to combine the two, and that didn't work. So the orphanage eventually moved on, and we stayed there for 60 something years,” said Kay Baker.

Hamilton County Commissioners discussed the possibility of using $10-million from the county's capital funds to go towards the $13-million project.

The Humane Educational Society will raise the additional money needed for a new facility.

Kay Baker was a volunteer at HES and is now a board member. She is glad commissioners are getting a glimpse of the issues for themselves.

“They are correct that pictures don't do it justice. You have to walk through the shelter and experience it,” said Baker.

HES Executive Director Bob Citrullo made a presentation to the commission.

There was some pushback from Commissioner Tim Boyd.

“I'm trying to convince myself why I should prioritize allowing $10-million dollars to be issued,” said Boyd.

But overall, everyone was pleased with how the meeting went.

“They've done such a great job fundraising that they haven't been in here every year asking for dollars,” said Mayor Jim Coppinger.

The shelter's executive director says the new 35,000 square foot facility on Randolph Circle is expected to offer new services.

“Doing surgeries like spay and neutering because we can't do that in our current facility and we have to outsource that,” said Bob Citrullo. “So the plan is to put a medical wing.”

Many of the commissioners have scheduled a tour of the current facility to see the condition of the building up close.

Commissioners are expected to vote on whether or not to approve the funding later this next week.

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