By Ed Runyan
Three months of more work and fundraising are needed to complete the Animal Welfare League’s Animal Welfare Care & Education Center.
Roof repairs, electrical and plumbing work, the pouring of a new concrete foundation and lots of cement-block and steel already are in place.
Officials also said some changes have been made to plans for the $4.5 million project at the former ThunderPlex indoor-outdoor baseball and softball complex across state Route 193 from Squaw Creek Country Club.
For example, four outdoor baseball and softball fields at the 21-acre complex will be renewed and used for baseball tournaments, and a basement area will be used for off-season baseball and softball training.
Also, plans for the Animal Welfare League and Trumbull County Dog Kennel to share the building may not be finalized in time for the facility’s grand opening Sept. 6, said veterinarian Jeff Williams, the League’s new president.
The building design includes space for the county’s three dog wardens and executive dog warden to carry out their duties, but discussions with the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s office still need to be held before the public-private partnership can be completed.
Meanwhile, Caryn Covelli, a League volunteer and board member, announced her family will donate $500,000 to the project with a goal of attracting another $500,000 from the community to secure the remaining funds needed.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, and State Sen. Capri Cafaro of Hubbard, D-32nd, praised Covelli for being a “driving force” behind the four-year project to replace the league’s facilities on Brunstetter Road in Lordstown with ones that will allow Kent State University to train veterinary technicians and provide animal-care education.
“I’m out there every week with the animals,” Covelli said. “As we all know, it’s too small; it’s outdated.”
Dr. Williams, who became president in December, runs Countryside Veterinary Services, which has seven locations, three of them in Trumbull County.
Ron Southerland, director of the Veterinary Tech Program at Kent State University, said Kent State at Trumbull began offering classes in the two-year program last fall and will begin its work in the new Animal Welfare League facility this fall. Students will get hands-on experience at the facility, which will have a surgery center and treatment areas, as well as holding kennels, an indoor play yard, puppy area and retail area.