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County approves bid for new animal shelter building

by CHAD SOKOL
Daily Inter Lake | October 10, 2021 12:00 AM

The Flathead County commissioners on Tuesday awarded a $446,900 contract for the construction of a new multipurpose building at the county's animal shelter.

The project went to Kalispell-based Camas Creek Contracting LLC. Plans call for a 24-by-40-foot freestanding building with restrooms, a storage closet and a large countertop inside. It will sit beside the shelter's main building at 225 Cemetery Road in Kalispell, in a spot previously occupied by a small shed.

No tax money is budgeted for the project, which the commissioners first approved in February. Instead it will be paid for entirely with private donations.

Officials say the shelter, which is under the purview of the Flathead City-County Health Department, is in desperate need of more space. Cliff Bennett, the shelter's director, has said the new building will meet a variety of needs, serving as a place to hold meetings, train staff, assess animals' behavior, shelter large influxes of cats and dogs during emergencies and occasionally host expert instructors from around the country.

The county received donations large and small for the project, including a hefty sum from siblings Grace and Richard Blanchet, who upon their deaths gifted their wealth across the Flathead Valley, including donating their 320-acre farm in Creston to the Montana Land Reliance.

Commissioner Brad Abell said Tuesday he thought the construction bid was too high and he wouldn't have voted to allocate tax money for it. He said it's "a lot easier to accept" the cost knowing people donated funds for the express purpose of adding the building.

Commissioner Pam Holmquist said, "This is only possible because of donations, and we're so thankful to have the individuals in our community that donate to these projects. Otherwise we wouldn't get them done."

Assistant editor Chad Sokol may be reached at 406-758-4439 or csokol@dailyinterlake.com.

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