LISBON Flauto foundation buys sanctuary

The foundation bid $161,000 at a sheriff's auction.
LISBON -- Although jubilant after they purchased the nearly 80-acre wildlife sanctuary here, volunteers of the Richard E. Flauto Foundation know there's still much work to be done.
"We still need donations -- lots of donations," said volunteer Tiffany Poulton. "We were all nervous. Now we're just relieved."
Poulton's father, Curtis Poulton, is president of the foundation and was the group's spokesman during the sheriff's sale Tuesday at the Columbiana County Courthouse.
Poulton held off four other bidders with a final bid of $161,000 for the property appraised by the sheriff's department at $100,000. The sheriff's minimum price was two-thirds that amount, about $67,000.
The sanctuary was the dream of Flauto, of Boardman, who founded it in 1997. The property was up for grabs at a sheriff's sale because Flauto died in 1999 of a heart ailment before he could pay off the mortgage on the property.
"Richard was like a son to me," said Ruthanne Poulton, Tiffany's mother. "Luckily, today he was with us."
Family connection: Ruthanne Poulton said her daughter was engaged to Flauto at the time of his death.
"He made her promise not to let anything happen to the wolves," she said. "That has been quite a burden on all of us the past two years. Today was definitely a stressful situation."
Ruthanne Poulton said the group was able to bid competitively because of generous donations made during the past three weeks.
"We came ready to bid," she said, noting one man brought a sizable donation late Monday.
"We didn't even know him," she said. "He called us and came out about 10:30 with the money."
Poulton and others declined to give specifics about the donations, but said some were as much as $5,000. The foundation received numerous smaller, individual donations, as well as some from businesses.
Developing programs: Volunteer Christine Roddy said the purchase will enable the group to concentrate more on developing educational programs and less on day-to-day survival.
The preserve among remote Columbiana County hills is not open to the public. Roddy said volunteers hope to change that.
"We want to do an educational video we can take to schools," she said. "We want to make an education center so people can come here.
Roddy said about 25 hybrid wolves roam on 14 fenced acres. The animals are mixed with domestic canine breeds such as German shepherd, husky and malamute.

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