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By Gina Hendrickson, Community Activist/Advocate

RE: The dragged out saga of a new Animal Shelter (to be clear anyone mentioned is towards them in their role and NOT personal) I stepped away from the new Animal Shelter business about 2 years ago, because I saw the politics being played.

Many have worked very hard to make a new Animal Shelter happen. Especially Marilyn Terry. Ms. Terry also collaborated and had a “Friends of the Animal Shelter” non-profit organization formed. This non-profit was specifically organized to help raise money to build the new shelter. Unfortunately the people who want to donate funds cannot, or prefer not to donate until a plan/site/building has been set.

For the past two (2) years I have watched politics, empty promises and misinformation. Quite frankly people involved with an animal shelter that have no idea what they are doing. I am speaking specifically to our Mayor and Board of Aldermen in the City of Vicksburg.

I have, in my hands, the prepared Needs Assessment Study from experts “Shelter Planners of America” which has been in the hands of the city since May, 2021. To my understanding the Mayor, North and South Ward Aldermen have reviewed this along with City Attorney, Nancy Thomas and Jeff Richardson (title possibly Director of Community Development).

We have all heard the same story with each location presented, “This place does not work because…” Well, I personally have had enough. Enough stories, enough lies and enough “dragging feet.”

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield is more knowledgeable about Animal Shelters then anyone I know and some Veterinarians would agree. Mr. Mayfield went to Greenwood, Mississippi where Shelters of America built an animal shelter to personally see their work. It is also my understanding that Greenwood, MS raised about $850,000 to make their shelter happen. Mr. Mayfield is out numbered and was pushed aside when our Mayor and South Ward Alderman jumped in. Prior to this happening, I met with Mr. Mayfield, Jeff Richardson, Kacie Lindsay and another gentleman who did not speak much (I can’t remember his name). From my own experience, Mr. Richardson will tell you one thing in a meeting and go to someone else with something completely different.

During the board meeting the day after the election, our mayor said he was not going to take the blame on everything that goes on in the city (apologies Mayor, I am paraphrasing) and said the Aldermen need to be held accountable as well. I could not agree with the mayor more on this. We do have two full time aldermen where other cities have part-time alderman positions.

Attached is a picture I took in City Hall which clearly shows who is responsible for the various departments of the city. This clearly indicates that North Ward Alderman is responsible for animal control. So I spoke with Mr. Mayfield this morning (6/29/21) requesting a meeting with him, Mr. Richardson and the city attorney. It was brought to my attention the city attorney was working on this Assessment Study the city received.

(Submitted by Gina Hendrickson)

Late in the day, Mr. Mayfield advised that our meeting could not happen tomorrow because the Mayor and the Board need to have a discussion and after that, the City would discuss this matter with the public.

I will be blunt as usual. The community has had it! We the People elected this board (whether you voted or not, this is our board and we need to work with this board for the next 4 years). These are elected officials elected by us and paid by us. They work for us, not the other way around!

A gentleman donated something to the City on 61 south. This is the location the City wants to go with. BUT this location DOES NOT work! The location that works is on Rifle Range Road, PERIOD. I do pray Mr. Mayfield does not mind me saying this but he AGREES with Rifle Range Road. The mayor has mentioned the city has some funds, but not enough to purchase the Rifle Range property and build the animal shelter. Well, here is a beautiful idea, how about the local officials LISTEN to the public and Mr. Mayfield.

Let the community come in on this, let the Friends of the Animal Shelter raise the money and let’s break ground as soon as the signatures dry. It is possible to scale down the cost with the EXPERTS by It being discussed with people who know what is needed for an adequate city animal shelter.

How many more times do we need to see Vicksburg on television interviewing Kacie at the shelter? It’s inadequacy? Right now it is overflowing with animals! For two years Kacie, Rescues and wonderful people of our community have been and are doing everything they can for the animals here. If a new shelter is not built soon, the city may have no choice but to euthanize animals. I can assure you if this starts happening, the city of Vicksburg will see an influx of animal activists across the state and others.

This is NOT a political issue. So, to our elected officials, stop making it one. You are also community members here. What is the secret? What benefit is being received by making this political? There are members of this community that could school this entre community on an adequate shelter. If the city continues this political route the blood of the animals is on their hands. But just saying that makes me sick and we never should have reached this point.

On behalf of myself and many other community members, we are not interested in any further games. We the people say NO to the 61 location. We the People say YES to Rifle Range Road. I respectfully request that our city board get on one accord with your constituents so the Friends of the Shelter can start raising money.

This is an article submitted by the named author. Views and opinions expressed within represent the author and are not associated with Vicksburg Daily News.
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