Animal Welfare director finalists expected to be named this week

A Bibb County committee has recommended to the County Commission chairman the names of two finalists for the vacant Animal Welfare Department director’s job.

The citizens committee charged with finding a new director met Monday to discuss the position as well as a site to build a new animal shelter that will replace the one located near the Macon landfill on Eleventh Street. Most of the meeting was held in closed session because the discussions centered on personnel and land acquisition.

Commission Chairman Sam Hart is scheduled to complete his interviews with the finalists this week, and the names of the two finalists are expected to be revealed Thursday. Bibb County commissioners will make a final decision on the director no sooner than 14 days after the candidates’ names are announced.

Van VanDeWalker, a former interim director of the shelter who resigned his position as an animal control officer last month, asked last week to be reconsidered for the director’s job. However, VanDeWalker wasn’t one of the three candidates who interviewed with the committee last week.

Commissioner Lonzy Edwards, chairman of the Citizens Committee on Animal Welfare Site Selection & Director Screening, said he is pleased with the progress made in the director’s search.

“We’re well on our way to having the director’s job filled,” he said.

Steve Layson, Bibb County’s chief administrative officer, currently is the shelter’s interim director. The contract of consultant Deborah Biggs, who oversaw the shelter for much of the summer, ended last week.

Meanwhile, Edwards said, the committee hasn’t made much progress in choosing possible locations for the new, $3 million shelter, that’s being built with special purpose local option sales tax money.

Edwards said there apparently are no suitable sites on county-owned land. Three additional sites -- not county-owned -- were discussed Monday, but only one of those parcels appears to be suitable, he said.

“There are all kinds of considerations,” he said. “We want it to be very visible and highly accessible, but there are neighborhood considerations that we have to be mindful of.”

Edwards said the committee last week authorized the county to seek a consultant to assist in the site selection. Before the committee recommends a site, it may wait for the project’s architect to be chosen.

Edwards said the committee is scoring the requests for qualification submitted by architectural firms from across the country.

“We’ve had highly qualified firms from all over the country, as well as all over town and around Georgia,” Edwards said. “We’re going to end up with a good firm.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.