About 50 people and four puppies turned out at 923 Rail Drive, the site of the new Chequamegon Humane Association – a 10-acre piece of property located on Rail Road in the Ashland Industrial Park – to celebrate its groundbreaking.
Prior to the ceremony, CHA Board President Ted Kramolis took a few minutes to talk about what it has taken to get the shelter to this point, how things are moving forward and why a new space is needed.
“It’s been a long process,” he said. “This is probably our fifth site. The other ones fell through for one reason or another.”
Kramolis said they even considered rebuilding at their existing site but decided against that option for a number of reasons, including the location and type of land.
“The city told us about this piece of property here,” he said, adding that the city gave them a good deal on it. “A very small area of this can actually be built on, which is fine. It’s plenty big for what we need. We can walk dogs out around … We’ve got about five acres of field here and about five acres of forested property.”
Kramolis said they were all hoping to have started construction sooner but the permitting process and all of the other requirements that goes along with a commercial building takes time.
“When you’re going to build a building like this with in-kind help or reduced costs, sometimes you have to work around schedules and weather has not been kind to anybody including us,” he said.
Kramolis said Ashland Construction had given them a very good price on stripping the site and was going to be giving them a very good price on the sand, gravel and all the work.
“We – over the last five years – have been slowly tucking money away,” he said. “When we were in the black – for the shelter and we’ve had some nice endowments come in — but we will need a lot more money.”
Kramolis said they would be building as much of the shelter through in-kind labor and in-kind help as they could.
“I’ve been working with the local business — Ashland Building Products, Carlson’s and whoever else — to see if they can give us the most reduced costs on materials here for our building,” he said.
Kramolis said they are trying to keep everything local.
“Tony Brown Heating and Cooling is going to do … all of our heating and cooling and air-conditioning and plumbing with in-kind help from some other local plumbers and electricians at reduced costs,” Kramolis said. “He’s going to get all of the equipment, the air exchange and stuff like that from the companies with no markup whatsoever. That is a big deal, that is a big expense for us.”
Kramolis said his company – Kramolis Concrete – would be doing the footings, the frost walls and all of the poured work free of charge.
“We’ve done a lot of free work with Habitat for Humanity and other places so we’re going to really reduce the costs of the concrete work and the foundation work by doing that,” he said, adding that they we’re hoping to get things rolling in the next day or so. “We definitely want this all enclosed, all the utilities in here, the parking lot, the gravel, not the paving but it all enclosed and sheeted and windows and shingles on the roof well before winter. That’s a positive. We’re hoping to be further but we have to be realistic about the way things go. Optimistically we’ll be a lot further.”
Kramolis said the most expensive parts of the project would be the air-handling units and all of the plumbing.
“There is tons of plumbing in here for all the different kennels and stuff like that,” he said. “Everything here is going to be up to code and different than what’s at the other shelter.”
Kramolis said there would be three different air-handling units.
“One for the people, one for the healthy dogs and cats, and one for the dogs and cats that were just recently surrendered that could have parasites or could have contagious diseases,” he said.
Kramolis said the new facility boasts 15 dog kennels – 10 kennels for adoptable dogs, four isolation kennels for clearing in new arrivals and one kennel for a ferocious or sick animal.
The plans also call for 15 cat cages and two-cat colonies, again with areas separated out for both adoptable animals, new arrivals and those needing more care.
“In time when we have money, there will be an area outside where they can go and play,” he said describing a catio. “We have enough room in the back of the building to put dog runs. It’s nice to walk dogs but it’s much nicer if they can run free in a fenced-in area and get rid of their energy.”
Kramolis said there are numerous reasons they need the new space.
“The old faculty does not have a bathroom, it has minimal office space, we can not separate the dogs and cats, we only have one heating system, the cooling system is two tiny little air conditioners, it is too low, the water comes in the doors, the floor is cracked, water comes up through the cracks … the roof is to the point of being dangerous to walk on to shovel snow,” he said.
Kramolis said the layout of the old shelter and kennel design causes a lot of stress to the dogs.
“This new shelter won’t have that — we’ll have stress free kennels,” he said describing how the kennels will be divided so that the dogs won’t be able to see each other.
CHA Shelter Executive Director Kari Olinger agreed that they really need a new space and soon.
“We’re hopefully going to get in before winter,” she said adding that she really doesn’t want to spend another winter in the old shelter. “It probably won’t be finished but it’ll be usable,”
Kramolis explained that as a non-profit the CHA raises all of their money through donations, fundraisers and adoption fees.
“When the dogs [and cats] are adopted out, they are given all of the necessary shots, they get spayed and neutered,” he said. “We do a background check on the people that adopt our dogs (and cats).”
Olinger noted that the puppies they had brought with to the groundbreaking would soon be up for adoption.
“And we have two other moms that have puppies right now, so we have like 20 puppies available for adoption,” she said. “They’re not quite yet available but we’ll be taking applications on them and then when they’re ready to go home, we’ll be picking from those batches of people.”
Following the groundbreaking, State Representative Beth Meyers said she was looking forward to seeing what the CHA can do to help pets in the area.
“I think this is such a positive thing,” she said. “I’m happy to be here today in light of all of the things that have been happening in the northern part of the state lately with the disasters. It’s nice to know we’re still breaking ground and northern Wisconsin is still going forward. This is such a wonderful project. I’ve adopted pets from the old site, went to visit a couple of times and desperately needed this new building in place.”
“It takes all kinds of organizations, institutions and business to make a community and this is a wonderful way to show how a non-profit like the Chequamegon Humane Association can be very vital participant in that economy and at the same time do the right thing for our animals,” said State Senator Janet Bewley.
Kramolis said if you are a tradesman, a plumber, an electrician or have a similar skill or even if you have no particular skills but are still interested in helping out, to call him at 715-209-4800 or to call the shelter at 715-682-9744.
“There is going to be a lot of times when we need just people,” Kramolis said adding that he would be keeping records and would be making sure to recognize contractors for donating their time.
To make a donation or for more information on adopting a pet or to see artistic renderings and a floor plan for the new site as well as photos of the old one visit the CHA online at www.chaadopt.org or find them on Facebook at Chequamegon Humane Association.