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Humane society shelter arrives on site following parade

Riding on the back of a bright red pickup truck, Santa Claus waves to drivers along U.S. 61 North Monday afternoon as he escorts the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society’s prefabricated building materials to be delivered to the site of the organization’s animal shelter on Liberty Road in Natchez. The materials were unloaded at the construction site and will be erected in the coming weeks. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Riding on the back of a bright red pickup truck, Santa Claus waves to drivers along U.S. 61 North Monday afternoon as he escorts the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society’s prefabricated building materials to be delivered to the site of the organization’s animal shelter on Liberty Road in Natchez. The materials were unloaded at the construction site and will be erected in the coming weeks. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Santa dropped by the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society to give the cats and dogs — and yes, the humans too — an early Christmas present.

Escorted by Santa Claus — or at least one of his helpers — the new, pre-fabricated NACHS shelter building arrived at the future location of the shelter on Liberty Road.

Morton Buildings manufactured the metal structure in Garden City, Ala.

The Rev. Noelle Read, above, blesses the building materials and construction site for the new Natchez-Adams County Humane Society animal shelter on Liberty Road. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

The Rev. Noelle Read, above, blesses the building materials and construction site for the new Natchez-Adams County Humane Society animal shelter on Liberty Road. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Following the roll-in of the trucks at the site, NACHS President Kathy Fitch said the journey of the shelter was — metaphorically and literally — a long one.

“This today is a deliverance on a promise we made to bring a new shelter to our community,” Fitch said. “This will enable us to take care of our animals in a more humane way and provide better working conditions for our employees and volunteers.”

The concrete pad and some plumbing has already been installed onsite for the 5,000 square-foot building, which Fitch said is approximately 60 percent paid for.

The entire project is expected to cost approximately $1.38 million.

NACHS Vice President Sue Stedman said the building received Monday was two years in planning, the initial designs rejected because they were far outside the organization’s budget.

“We did a lot of value engineering, because what we had the first time we really could not afford,” she said.

“When I saw that truck turn into this lot, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to talk.”

Sue Stedman, Kathy Fitch, Barbara Platte, Mike Lazarus and Butch Brown break ground for the new facility with NACHS board members watching from behind. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Sue Stedman, Kathy Fitch, Barbara Platte, Mike Lazarus and Butch Brown break ground for the new facility with NACHS board members watching from behind. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

After the building was delivered, the NACHS had a brief groundbreaking ceremony.

The Rev. Noelle Read, co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Natchez, said the new shelter will help the community bear out the command God gave in the Bible.

“In the Book of Genesis, it says God created everything and said it was good, and then God gives humans the responsibility to be stewards of creation,” Read said.

“We have a great responsibility, and we are acting on that responsibility today.”

NACHS officials have previously said they expect to be able to occupy the building in March or April.

Fitch said everyone who has given to the project should be thanked, from the child who donated her birthday money to the Brenda Voght Harrison estate, which donated $350,000 toward the project.

“We appreciate (the community’s) excitement as we move forward,” Fitch said.

Donations to the building project can be made at P.O. Box 549, Natchez, MS 39121.

Checks should be designated to “NACHS Building Fund.”

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