2018-06-20 / Front Page

Director of animal services resigns after seven months


Seven months and some $75,000 later, Burke County is without an animal services director, a position that took years to create and finally fill.

Peter Williams, who moved from Maryland to take the job, which included developing ordinances and a plan for building a shelter, resigned on June 11 in a letter to county administrator Merv Waldrop. While the letter did not offer a reason for his resignation, he thanked Waldrop and the board of commissioners and declared June 22 as his last day while also stating he would exhaust 79 hours of sick time and annual leave. Waldrop later confirmed Williams’ last official day was June 15, that he would not be paid for any unused sick leave and that any unused vacation would be on his final check, though he wasn’t employed long enough to build much.

Just a few weeks prior to his resignation, Williams submitted to the commissioners an outline of his progress over the past six months. In the email dated May 23, Williams wrote that “some of the items on this list are continuous while others are completed and others are in process.” The outline did not differentiate between them, but included visits to shelters in Screven, Aiken, Richmond, Columbia, Gwinnett, Lowndes, Washington and McDuffie counties as well as training for animal fighting, animal law, equine law and handling and an animal care expose in Kansas City. The information provided by Williams also stated he had drafted a county ordinance for animal control that was currently being reviewed by an attorney with Animal Law Source.

In a televised interview with Channel 12 on the same day, Williams talked about his plans for the future of Burke County’s animal services, which included building a shelter the right way as quickly as possible. He said an RFP had been posted and that an architect would be selected to build the structure he estimated would cost the county nearly a million dollars. Residents and local animal wonder if Williams’ resignation will be a huge setback for the county.

Dr. Sarah Ford, a local veterinarian who owns and operates Burke County Animal Hospital, worries that the community is no closer to getting an animal shelter than it was three years ago when the commission’s efforts first began. In a letter to the editor (see full letter on page 7A), she wrote, “We need to move forward with construction plans … this doesn’t have to be a ‘million dollar building’ … But, we need to move forward. We’ve waited for years.”

Waldrop says the county plans to do just that. The board has authorized him to advertise and hire a new director and the shelter design project has been awarded to Carter Watkins. “It will proceed maybe somewhat slower since I will be the lead contact on the project,” he said. “Nonetheless, we will move forward.”

During his brief tenure, Williams was paid $41,035.38 in salary. The county spent $384.64 on travel, $225 for training and $1,545.97 for small equipment. Other costs incurred included supplies ($244.01) and communications/postage ($1,583.03). Thousands of dollars for insurance, retirement and professional services were also paid out.

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