County approves bid to build new animal shelter


Flathead County Commissioners on Tuesday awarded a $ 446,900 contract to construct a new mixed-use building at the county animal shelter.

The project was entrusted to Camas Creek Contracting LLC, based in Kalispell. The plans call for a freestanding 24-foot by 40-foot building with a washroom, storage closet and a large counter inside. It will be located next to the main shelter building at 225 Cemetery Road in Kalispell, in a location previously occupied by a small hangar.

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

Officials say the shelter, which falls under the Flathead City-County health department, is in desperate need of more space. Cliff Bennett, the director of the shelter, said the new building will meet a variety of needs, serving as a place to hold meetings, train staff, assess animal behavior, house large influxes of cats and dogs in the event emergency services and occasionally host expert instructors from around the country.

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

Commissioner Brad Abell said on Tuesday he believed the construction bid was too high and would not have voted to allocate tax money for it. He said it is “much easier to accept” the cost knowing that people have donated funds for the express purpose of adding the building.

Commissioner Pam Holmquist said: “This is only possible through donations, and we are very grateful to have people in our community donating to these projects. Otherwise, we would not be doing them.”

Associate Editor Chad Sokol can be reached at 406-758-4439 or [email protected]

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