Mayor LeRoy Benton looks ahead to capital improvements, bond election next year

(From left to right) Sasha, a beagle, and Autumn, a labrador mix, rest inside the Fulton Animal Shelter on Friday after being outside. For Fulton mayor LeRoy Benton, building a new animal shelter is a top priority for 2014. Tina Barnes, Fulton’s Animal Control supervisor, said she’s very excited for a new shelter that will house up to 40 dogs and 30 cats — about triple the amount the current shelter holds. The new shelter, Barnes said, will have new pens for dogs and cats.

(From left to right) Sasha, a beagle, and Autumn, a labrador mix, rest inside the Fulton Animal Shelter on Friday after being outside. For Fulton mayor LeRoy Benton, building a new animal shelter is a top priority for 2014. Tina Barnes, Fulton’s Animal Control supervisor, said she’s very excited for a new shelter that will house up to 40 dogs and 30 cats — about triple the amount the current shelter holds. The new shelter, Barnes said, will have new pens for dogs and cats. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

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Stray cats live inside this room at the Fulton Animal Shelter. The new Fulton Animal Shelter will have new cat cages, said Tina Barnes, Fulton’s animal control supervisor. She also said the shelter will have cat condos for female cats with a litter because they have more space.

In discussing his plans for the city of Fulton in 2014, Mayor LeRoy Benton said there are plenty of projects the city has planned that have him excited.

Some, such as the new animal shelter and the city’s maintenance and utility warehouse complex, will be the culmination of months of planning and will address needs the city has had for even longer.

Others, like the bond issue for the sewer update project and a redesign of the Seventh Street bridge, will provide needed infrastructure upgrades Benton said will help make Fulton a “viable community.”

All are things residents — and voters — within the city can expect on their radar for the new year.

Construction projects

One of the first projects Benton anticipates will get under way in 2014 is going to the dogs.

After years of fundraising, the city anticipates breaking ground on a new city-run Fulton Animal Shelter to replace the cramped, outdated facility the city has been using as a “temporary solution” for nearly 20 years.

“I really am excited and appreciative of the community over the years, because those funds are coming from the community and donations, so I think the community really has some involvement,” Benton said.

Community fundraising for the animal shelter began a few years ago and has been something of a pet project for the mayor. Benton made the shelter fund the beneficiary of his inaugural Mayor’s Cup golf tournament in 2012, and again this year. The city has also sold engraved bricks to benefit the structure.

Set to be constructed off Industrial Drive, the new facility will hold up to 30 cats and dogs and provide more room for the animals and the city’s animal control staff. The current Garrett Animal Shelter, which was converted from the former city pool facility, was originally put in use as a temporary solution during the 1990s.

But stray animals are not the only things that will have a new building to call home by the end of the year. Bids are currently out on the new city warehouse facility, which will house utility workers, trash service and other city vehicles.

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