ACARF nearly ready

Register Reporter

Register/Richard Luken
Art Chapman shows the lobby area of the new Allen County Animal Rescue Facility, which he hopes to see open by the end of the year.

LAHARPE — Excitement is building by the day for backers of the Allen County Animal Rescue Facility, which hopes to have its gleaming new rescue and adoption facility complete by the end of the year.
The 5,400-square foot metal building, under construction on the east edge of LaHarpe along U.S. 54, cannot open soon enough, said Art Chapman, president of ACARF’s board of directors.
“We have such a desperate need for a shelter in the area,” Chapman said Monday. “It’s been a long time coming to get to this point.”
Chapman provided a tour of the ACARF building, including its separate rooms to house dozens of dogs and cats, as well as intake and quarantine rooms for both types of animals, a kitchen area, a community room for various classes, meetings or family get-togethers, a lobby, administrative office and a pair of “get acquainted with your new pet” rooms.
Those 10-foot by 10-foot rooms, accessible through sliding glass doors, will allow folks looking to adopt a dog or cat a chance to interact with the animal before deciding whether to make it a member of the family.
Each of the rooms will feature its own air handling system, as well as heavily insulated walls covered with fiberglass paneling that serves both as a sound barrier and an easy-to-clean surface.
“We may not have all of the pens in place, but we’d love to have the building up and running by the end of the year,” he said.
Chapman, who lives less than a mile to the north of the building and works at Diebolt Lumber Company less than a mile to the south, is eager to give tours to “just about anybody who shows up.”
“I’ve driven by a couple of times to see a car in the parking lot, so I’ll stop by and show off the building,” Chapman said. “We’re pretty proud of it.”

OPENING the facility has been a years-long undertaking to raise the necessary funds for the $250,000 building.
The project received a signficant boost from Iolans Ray and Wanda Shannon, who donated $50,000, proceeds from a life insurance policy for their son, Douglas, who died in 2007. The Shannons agreed to donate as much as $10,000 more in matching funds for local groups and donors. They’ve matched more than $7,000 so far, with the promise to match added funds until the $10,000 threshold is reached.
Chapman figures ACARF received the equivalent of another $35,000 worth of labor and materials from a group of laborers from El Dorado Springs, Mo. Wilbur Byler, Tim Coblentz and Delbert Yoder of Golden Rule Construction and Pete Swarts, his sons Johnny and Chris, Reuben Greaber and George Hemergrin also assisted.
“They were the ones who got the building up,” Chapman said. “They’d built pole barns and other buildings around the lumber yard and I asked if they’d be willing to help.”
They were.
Chapman estimated that building a facility of that sort would normally have cost about $38,000. He received a bill for $2,487.
“It was a tremendous gesture on their part,” he said.
Other groups have been steady supporters of the ACARF facility, including Diebolt Lumber, SE-Kan Asphalt Services, Jump Start Travel Center, Iola Senior Citizens, Inc. and DCI Refrigeration.
In addition, local contractors Bob Jewell, Kenny Anderson and Crossland Construction have kept subcontracting costs reasonable, Chapman said.
“One thing I’m not shy about is asking for help, and these people have been great in their response,” Chapman said. “The city of LaHarpe has been very cooperative and helpful as well.
“We understand that the economy has struggled and people can’t afford a lot,” he continued. “That makes their support even more special.”
A number of supporters have found another means of support through memorials.
The Junior ACARF group, a student-based organization at Iola Middle School, is once again selling vitamin-C laced suckers. Sucker sales generated more than $1,500 during the previous school year. Their goal is $3,000 for 2009-10.
As the assistance poured in, ACARF decided to take out a loan to complete construction of the building.
“It was important that we get the building up and in place so that the people who have supported us for so long could see that we weren’t just doing fund raising, that we were progressing,” Chapman said.
The group is still raising funds to purchase more dog and cat pens. Cat cages cost more than $350 apiece. Dog pens cost $2,200. The facility will have space for 30 cat pens and 21dog pens.
When released, each animal will be spayed or neutered and will have a microchip implanted in its ear giving owner information.
A benefit auction is in the works for this fall, and ACARF once again will sponsor a Christmas homes tour in December. Russell Stover also has agreed to sponsor Candy Day for ACARF on Dec. 5. As much as 10 percent of all proceeds from candy store purchases that day will go to the facility.
“We have a lot of activities in the works, and they have ACARF stamped all over it,” Chapman said.
For more information about supporting ACARF, contact Chapman at 496-2222 or call any other ACARF board member including Larry Macha, Don Diebolt, Hazel Jones, Ginny Hawk, Jeri Ornelas-Jones, Bud Jones or Jeanne Cloud.

WITH THE structure itself nearly complete, Chapman said ACARF will set its sights on its next venture: getting the facility open.
Plans are in the works soon to hire a facility manager and set up contracts with local municipalities soon to take in stray dogs and cats. All of the animals to be adopted with first receive an mplanted microchip and spayed or neutered.
“It won’t take long to fill us up,” Chapman said.
Other volunteers also will be sought to help care for the animals on a daily basis.
“We’ve gotten quite a few inquiries about that, too,” Chapman said. “I think people are getting as excited about this place opening as we are.”