NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. - On a chilly and slightly overcast late January afternoon, Newton County leaders and animal lovers put ceremonial shovels into a pile of dirt at the county's Animal Services facility on Lower River Road and began making the future brighter for local shelter cats and dogs.
"As you can see, our SPLOST dollars are at work again," Board of Commissioners Chairman Marcello Banes said, "Animal services is not what it used to be. It used to be just the dog catcher and now it's involved in so much more and we're excited about that."
County Manager Lloyd Kerr talked about the progress the department has made and is making.
"We've come a along way," he said, "Some of you may have been following the reports that I give on a monthly basis to the Board and you'll where our numbers have consistently been improving for adoptions and rescues and our euthanasia has gone down significantly.
"Construction of the new portion of the animal services building, as well as the rehabilitation and remodeling of the existing building will allow us to do that to an even greater extent."
Animal Services Director Cindy Wiemann said it's an exciting time for Newton County's animals.
"First, I have to thank the commissioners and County Manager Lloyd Kerr for seeing the vision, for seeing the need to take better care of Newton County's companion animals," she said.
"One of my favorite sayings is 'The greatness of a nation will be judged on how it treats its its animals'. The greatness of a county will also."
The $1.2 million expansion and remodel is being funded by money from the county's 2017 SPLOST and a private, anonymous $100,000 donation. Local company Sunbelt Builders is the contractor on the project.