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Opening held for Lee shelter

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Since its conception some four years ago, the proposed Leesburg Animal Shelter was a challenge for those in the Lee County Public Works department, says that department's director, Michael Sistrunk.

"We had trouble with figuring out where the funds were going to come from," Sistrunk said, as he invited visitors to tour the facility.

A long row of indoor-outdoor kennels houses the shelter's current population of dogs, which is enthusiastic in greeting visitors. The kennels are separated from the hallway by a wall inset with large windows that allow visitors to see in, while across the hallway are currently empty rooms where, Sistrunk says, cats will be housed "when the cages come in."

The actual ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility was held outdoors Wednesday, in front of the shelter where Board of Commission Chairman Ed Duffy introduced the shelter by saying, "This is a great day for the citizens of Lee County as we open our state-of-the-art animal shelter."

Lee County commissioners Betty Johnson, Rick Muggridge and Bill Williams were also present to celebrate the shelter's opening.

After the ribbon-cutting, guests were invited to a reception during which they could further explore the facilities where animal control officers will keep watch over a large contingent of adoptable pets.

Duffy went on to detail the donations that made the opening possible.

He and Sistrunk jointly explained that $70,000 of the project funds came from special-purpose local-option sales tax funding, $141,000 from donations, including an anonymous $50,000 gift, and more than $207,000 from Dr. Phillip Hajek and his associates, for a grand total of $418,000 devoted to the project.

Hajek explained that he and his associates operate a foundation known as the Fifth Friday Foundation which, in "every month containing five Fridays, we donate half of the earnings from the clinic (Musculoskeletal Associates) to charity."

Duffy later said, "I want to personally thank everyone who donated (to build) this facility."