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Community Generosity Fuels Humane Society James Montgomery Animal Wellness Center

$200k raised - $50k to go; ground breaking on Monday

Graphic with dogs and cats in a line with the heading: James Montgomery Animal Wellness Center, open to all regardless of height, fur, color, or sex.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Columbia County/Lake City, FL – This Monday, December 23 at 10 am, the groundbreaking ceremony for the James Montgomery Animal Wellness Center will take place. On Thursday, the Columbia County 5 (County Commission) agreed to provide the site work for the project, leaving $50k to go to fully fund the project.


On April 27, 2019, the Lake City/Columbia County Humane Society kicked off fundraising for the James Montgomery Animal Wellness Center, which when completed, will provide low cost affordable services for homed and homeless pets and the feral cat population.

The folks at Truck Stop 75 sponsored the April 27th kick-off event, which was a great success.

Since that time, the Humane Society's executive committee has been working to complete the Wellness Center design and planning, and to secure funding.

The community has opened its heart and wallet to the project.

     • Darrell Copeland Surveying donated the survey.

     • Carol Chadwick, P.E., contributed the civil engineering.

     • Contractor David Simque of Simque Construction is providing the contracting and steel building at cost.

     • North Florida Professional Services provided the drawing of the Wellness Center.

Thursday Night at the County 5

Executive Committee members came before The 5 to request the County provide the site prep work for the Wellness Project.

Laura Hunter addresses the County 5 as Todd Sampson and Robin Tobak-Ward look on.
Laura Hunter, wistful at times when she spoke about Mr. Montgomery, addressed the County 5. Todd Sampson and Robin Tobak-Ward listen.

Laura Hunter, a fixture in the community and a member of the Humane Society scene for the past quarter of a century addressed The 5: "I have been on the board of the Animal Shelter for about 25 years... We had a lot of obstacles we've had to jump. We have a wonderful staff. I'm here to talk about somebody that was very dear to me. Not only did he touch my life, but many in this room and on the Board. I'm talking about James Montgomery."

Ms. Hunter said, "Everything in Lake City has the Montgomery touch. He is just everywhere... I couldn't think of a better person who had done so much for the animal shelter."

Ms. Hunter said she wanted to name the Veterinary clinic building the James Montgomery Animal Wellness Center.

She explained that when she told Mr. Montgomery that, she said he said, "Oh, you don't have to do that." 

Then Mr. Montgomery sent a check as a contribution to the center.

Ms. Hunter shared that during Mr. Montgomery's final days she went back to Mr. Montgomery

James Montgomery addresses the County 5 in 2015.
Mr. Montgomery addresses the County 5 in 2015.

"I went back to James, at his bedside, he was very weak, I said, 'We're going to have an event and I said we're going to honor you at this event. I need the pictures. So I gathered up the pictures from his old room. I bent down. He was whispering then and he said, 'What else do you need?' and I said, -- It was a good feeling to look him straight in the face and hug him and say, 'I need nothing else from you. It's up to us, now.'"
      "So tonight we're here to talk to you about some things the commissioners might help us with. I was hoping he would be with us for our groundbreaking on Monday, but he's not. But I guarantee he's looking down on us tonight and he will be with us on Monday as we break ground to have a wonderful facility in his name."

Todd Sampson introduced himself, "I'm Todd Sampson. I'm the president of the [Humane Society] board."

Mr. Sampson explained that "the Lake City Humane Society was established in October1964 to address the animal welfare issues here in our community."

Todd Sampson addresses the County 5 as Laura Hunter looks on.
Todd Sampson addresses the County 5.

Mr. Sampson said there have been a lot of changes since 1964 and with the rise in population "we need to do a better job at helping people that can't afford normal Vet services... [the new clinic] it will provide them a place to go, because they can't afford the normal vet care. In addition to that, we're looking to use the new facility in disaster recovery – people don't have a place to leave their animals – we're going to have a kennel space to help with that as well."

Robin Tobak-Ward, the Montgomery Wellness Center building fund director, told the County 5, "I am Robin Tobak-Ward. I am the secretary of the Executive Board of the Columbia County/Lake City Humane Society."

Ms. Tobak-Ward told The 5 that so far almost $100,000 had been raised, along with tens of thousands in-kind donations.

Ms. Tobak-Ward said, "These are people who believe in what we do. The contractor, who is doing this, is also a member of our community."

Ms. Tobak-Ward mentioned that the engineering and other functions were also donated.

Board Chairman Sampson explained that the Humane Society is asking for the County to provide the site prep for the new Animal Wellness Center and that additional funds had been donated.

Commissioner Nash made a motion for the County to provide site prep for the new Montgomery Animal Wellness Center.

It passed unanimously.

Post Meeting

James Montgomery Animal Wellness Center drawingAn anonymous benefactor has committed to contributing $25,000 to the project

County Economic Development Director Glenn Hunter has volunteered his time to the Wellness Center project. This morning he provided updated figures, telling the Observer that so far the project has raised $200,000 and has $50k to go to be completely funded.

The new facility will have a state-of-the-art clinic/surgery room, new kennels for dogs, surgery prep room and a recovery room, a cattery and sick room, and a brand new bright and welcoming adoption center.

Those interested in donating to the building fund, or those interested in learning more about naming opportunities, can visit the Humane Society here:  www.lakecityhumane.org or email clinicdonations@lakecityhumane.org

The ground breaking is on December 23, 2019 at 10:00 AM at The Lake City-Columbia County Humane Society Adoption Education and Outreach Center, 1392 Shelter Glen, Lake City, FL 32055.

Everyone is invited.

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