Two sides agree on NACHS

Published 12:17 am Friday, October 7, 2011

NATCHEZ — Animal lovers who recently spoke out in disagreement over some issues on behalf of the voiceless dogs and cats of Natchez-Adams County have agreed to harmonize their tune.

Following eight meetings of two people representing board members of the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society and two leaders of a group of NACHS members that were vocal this summer about their disapproval of the board members’ leadership — mostly stemming from plans to build a new shelter — negotiations from the meetings resulted in an agreement on several issues.

One of the main fruits of the negotiations was an agreement to allow new members to join the board next month to replace at least three current members.

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NACHS will host an annual membership meeting Nov. 15 to elect the new board members.

Tony Byrne and Becky Morris represented NACHS members who questioned the board members, and board members were represented by NACHS President Barbara Platt and Ashton James, who is not a board member but was asked to participate.

“The most important outcome of the mediation is the establishment of trust between the two sides,” said Bill Furlow, who was appointed to mediate the talks between the two groups.

The five-page agreement tackles four issues: the shelter location; the board composition; annual audits; and a revision of NACHS bylaws.

The negotiators did not try to decide where the new animal shelter should be located but agreed to abide by whatever decision the newly elected board of directors makes, a press release says.

“The (new shelter plans) will start from scratch,” Furlow said.

During a fact-finding session, Furlow said the negotiators discovered among other things that installing sewage at a proposed Col. John Pitchford Parkway site would cost $36,000.

“Once everyone was working from the same set of facts, it became possible to resolve some of the big issues,” Furlow said.

He said a newly elected board can take all the facts to make objective decisions on the future shelter plans.

Members of a group represented by Byrne and Morris shared concerns at a public NACHS meeting in August that board members were operating past their terms, resulting in some board members remaining on the board for decades often without being formally re-elected.

Platte appointed board members Kathy Fitch, Kim Lindsey and Susan Mingee as members of the nominating committee, which Morris and Byrne will advise as part of the agreement.

Furlow said the board would not name at this time which of the three or more board members will rotate off the board in November.

The agreement also says NACHS Vice President Nan Garrison will draft updated bylaws with the help of another board member selected by Byrne and Morris.

In addition, Platte said she would find out if audits have been performed in recent years and would distribute the documentation to members. If the board failed to get audited, Platte said she would make annual audits an immediate duty of the new board.

Furlow said the negotiators also discussed the duties of board members.

“The humane society needs board members, and it needs volunteers; and those are not necessarily the same people,” Furlow said. “That’s a point we talked about a lot.”

Furlow said those interested in becoming a board member should contact at or 601-445-4014 and submit applications by Oct. 21.

“Everybody participated with a good sense of humor and honesty, so legitimate issues could be hashed out,” Furlow said.

Byrne and Platt would not comment on the mediation, both saying they agreed to appoint Furlow to speak on their behalf.