by Jack Mayne Once controversial, the CARES Animal Control agency told the Burien City Council they now handle all calls about cats where once they did not, and one Councilmember said they â€œhave done a fantastic job.â€ The Council also heard about needing to raise more money for projects of the Burien Arts Commission and issued proclamations on a retiring city official and declared December as â€œImpaired Driving Prevention Monthâ€ during its study session Monday night (Nov. 23). More animals taken in Debra George, executive director of CARES, told the Council that the agency has received over 1,085 phone calls so far this year concerning a wide variety of strays or found and lost animals, compared with 1,222 for all of 2014. The agency also took over 275 calls for found, lost and stray cats, an area CARES once did not service. George said they agency now takes in all stray cats. Georgeâ€™s report said CARESâ€™ dog intake for the year is up 25 percent; cats up 40 percent with a low euthanasia rate of 3.9 percent. Her report showed itÂ has taken in 244 dogs so far this year, compared with 260 for all of last year. These are dogs â€œsurrenderedâ€ by owners, plus strays and a few seized by CARES for a variety of reasons. So far in 2015, CARES has taken in 51 cats, mostly from people giving them up or strays, her report said. Adoptions of dogs or returning lost ones to owners totaled 242 this year, and 110 cats. Dog adoptions is â€œwhat we are most proud about,â€ George said, noting they are a Burien-based agency and able to return them â€œby a far greater percentage than other community based organizations.â€ CARES also picked up a variety of critters found dead on roads, including 18 opossums, 14 cats, 21 raccoons and 13 squirrels. So far this year, 93 dead animals have been found and picked up, fewer than the 167 total the year before. Animal control officer Alex Hughes said the national average for stray dogs being returned to their owners is â€œabout 20 percent â€¦ and for cats itâ€™s extremely low, about 2 percent,â€ while CARES had a return rate in 2014 of 58 percent in 2014 and 75 percent for this year. For cats a 5 percent return rate last year is up to 7.75 percent for this year. The agency reports it has two full time animal control officers, and over 120 volunteers. It spent $22,000 so far this year on veterinarian services and sold 390 city pet licenses, bringing in over $17,000 in pet license fees and fines. It also got $56,200 in revenue from pet adoptions and donations. After the report, retiring Councilmember Gerald Robinson said â€œfor the criticism you have gotten over the years, I think you guys have done a fantastic job with operating our own animal control system instead of being part of this massive King County thing where your animal control officer might be in Enumclaw or Vashon Island when you need them.â€ Burien Arts out of money When itsÂ current project is finished, the Burien Arts Commission will be broke and in need of funding and new projects, the commission told the Burien City Council. The Council has been inviting various city advisory groups in to meet during study sessions and this week it was the Burien Arts Commission, which the city says its â€œrole is to advise and make recommendations to the City Council regarding the improvement and furtherance of artistic activities within the City.â€ Gina Kallman, the cityâ€™s cultural arts supervisor, told the session that the cityâ€™s goal of financing some art pieces is to â€œenhance the pedestrian experience and create a unique sense of space while contributing to the Cityâ€™s identity and pride.â€ It also sponsors events that attract â€œlarge numbers of people,â€ such as concerts in the park and the Wild Strawberry Festival, which are free of charge and accessible to people of all economic levels and from all cultures, Kallman said. The city provides funds for five programs â€“ the Moshier Arts Center, the Arts Commission, arts and culture grants, public art and special community events, she said. Arts Commissioner Shelley Brittingham said the commission was created by the city in 1998 to advise and make public arts recommendations to the Council. A fund from capital improvement projects was used for the original $51,000 budget, Brittingham said. The Commission has spent $21,000 on five permanent art pieces and had $30,000 left for new projects in the 2016-17 biennium and the plan was to spend $20,000 for public art at Seahurst Park, Brittingham said, and the final $10,000 for maintenance of the art purchased. Seahurst grant rejected Brittingham said they sought a national grant to buy the Seahurst art, but the grant was not approved. â€œThere are not many other sources for public funding of local parks other than our own jurisdiction,â€ she said. When the money is gone, she said there are no more known revenue sources and the commission was researching what other cities do and she hoped the Arts Commission and the Council will have a discussion about the future of the program. â€œThe fund will go down to zero and we are interested in finding out and having a good, robust discussion about the future of that funding and how we might go about creating more funding for public art,â€ Brittingham said. Lafreniere retires Michael Lafreniere, retiring after 10 years as Executive Director of the City’s Parks Department, was presented with a proclamation thanking him for his service. The proclamation said that â€œduring his tenure the City of Burien Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department has achieved significant accomplishments in programming, revenue growth and capital projects, for which the City has received several state, national and local awards for excellence and innovation,â€ and he â€œserved as a role model and has consistently exemplified professionalism, innovation and dedication in his work with the City staff, the City Council, and the community.â€ Remembering James Nolan The Council also declared December as â€œImpaired Driving Prevention Monthâ€ to remember the DWI death of James Nolan on Jan. 1, 2014. â€œNolan was actively involved in the community through his activities at the Olympic Boys and Girls Club and the Evergreen Community Pool,â€ the city proclamation said, adding â€œWhereas, the City of Burien would like to call attention to the deadly consequences of impaired driving caused by driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or while texting and using cell phone …â€]]>
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