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Family gives land for animal shelter

By Ronnie Thomas 340-2438

SOMERVILLE — After pawing for land for an animal shelter the past four years, the Morgan County Humane Society struck gold.

During a meeting here Tuesday at the old courthouse, Charles Brown of Somerville handed the agency's treasurer, Melissa Bagwell, the deed to 8.9 acres on Gum Springs Cutoff Road in Hartselle.

Brown said he, his sister, Kelly Ferris of Zephyr Springs, Nev., and their brother, Mark Brown of Albany, Ga., made the donation in memory of their mother, Jean Guyse Brown of Somerville, who died Nov. 20.

"We didn't know until after her death, going through some papers, that she was a member of the U.S. Humane Society," Charles Brown said. "She also had the shirt to prove it. She loved animals, and we believe she would consider this a fitting gift. We hope it will make a difference."

The society will have a groundbreaking ceremony at noon Saturday. Members will then shift into high gear in an effort to get materials for the shelter and labor donated. Bagwell said that as of Tuesday, the group has $4,634.78 in its account at Compass Bank.

Larry White of Priceville, a member of the building committee, revealed a sketch offered by fellow member Woody Woodard of Trinity. The proposed 4,800-square-foot structure will have 55 units for dogs, 30 of which would have 4-by-4 foot outside areas, dog runs, rooms for cats and examination rooms.

"We hope to make the administrative office large enough for meetings," White said. "We also plan an 8-foot roll-up door at the back to accommodate a four-wheeler."

Claudia Ray, director of the Morgan County Animal Shelter at Hartselle, and Nathan Green, animal control officer, said the shelter would greatly benefit their operation and offered their assistance.

Decatur Mayor Don Kyle said he appreciated the Morgan County Humane Society's approach "to get something together that makes sense." He said he would volunteer the services of Danny Melson, director of the Decatur Animal Shelter.

"He's passionate, too, and we will pass on what we know from folks who have assisted the city," Kyle said.

John Ross of the office of Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, said the likelihood of securing grants for the society from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be greater now that construction of a building is imminent.

He said he has worked with the society's director, Robyn Purdy of Somerville, and said "Robyn's passion for this is contagious."

Purdy has been the driving force to organize the Morgan County Humane Society.

"Four years ago, it was only a dream," she said, "and sometimes obstacles appear. But I'm a pit bull, and I don't let go. I believe in this. Something had to be done for these homeless animals."

Purdy said that Tom Lance of Trinity, who initiated the building committee, donated the van she uses to transport animals.

Ken Oglesby of Somerville, acting chairman of the board of directors, also recognized Larry Thomson of Lacey's Spring, who heads the community awareness committee.

Oglesby said the nominating committee has presented names for a permanent board. He said the society will meet Jan. 9 to vote.

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