By Linda Thurston

JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – Campbell County is being inundated with unwanted or abandoned animals, and the animal shelter’s director warned the county that more help is needed.

Patricia Siwinski, the shelter’s director, told the county commission at its workshop Monday night that the shelter is at 300 percent capacity and faces an ongoing lack of space.

Siwinski said the shelter handled a total of 393 animals in February, and many of them will remain in shelter care for a while. She said many of the animals were puppies and kittens, which cannot be adopted out until they are at least seven weeks old.

While the shelter normally performs an average of 120 spays and neuters per month, Siwinski said only 56 were performed in February, which will likely lead to more litters winding up at the shelter soon.

She said the shelter normally holds one spay/neuter clinic per week, at no cost to the county, but is now scheduling two per week in order to cut down on unwanted litters.

She also asked the county to consider possible solutions to the lack of ability to enforce current state laws governing dogs at large and pet abandonment. She said the animal control officer has no authority to issue citations of violations because he is not a law enforcement officer and reports to the county mayor, not the sheriff. In any enforcement issue, shelter employees must call 911 and request a sheriff’s deputy. She praised the sheriff’s department for its response to calls, but said it would work much better if the animal control officer could handle issues himself.

Commissioners discussed hiring law enforcement officers to handle the problem, but recognized that Sheriff Wayne Barton would say he would need additional funds in his budget to pay these officers.

Another option discussed was to pass county ordinances corresponding to state laws, in hopes the state would authorize animal control to issue the citations, but it was decided that further research would be needed to determine if the issue could be addressed.

Also at the meeting, Sheriff Wayne Barton reported the county has been awarded a $106,000 violent criminal intervention grant that will pay for a communications tower upgrade, law enforcement training and license plate readers. He said the LPRs are only used to apprehend drivers who have been reported in connection with crimes.

In other issues, the commission heard that Exponential Digital in the Jellico Industrial Park needed three more months to remove all its equipment from its facility and was willing to continue to pay $1,500 rent per month, in advance, to facilitate its move.

County Mayor Jack Lynch reported that 13 students were on track to graduate from emergency medical service training through Roane State Community College and the local Tennessee College of Advanced Technology, with graduation expected in May. He also said Gold Creek Foods now has 230 employees, and the county is investigating more grant possibilities to facilitate new water lines.

Jared Effler, district attorney general for the 8th District, said a victim waiting room has been completed and is in use. The room protects victims, particularly those who are alleged to be victims of domestic violence, from being intimidated by those accused of the crimes. The room is on the second floor of the older portion of the courthouse.

These issues, and others, will be addressed at the county commission’s regular meeting next Monday, March 20, at 6 p.m. at the courthouse in Jacksboro. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/14/2023-6AM)