by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor

Huntington City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance that will transfer the Cook School property to the Huntington Municipal Development Authority. Mayor Steve Williams said HMDA would sell the property to Mount West Community and Technical College which plans to create animal husbandry and veterinary assistant training. 

Williams explained that with the location opposite the Cabell Huntington Animal Control Shelter that students in vet tech training and vets would be able to check out in coming animals prior to their placement at the shelter.

"It needs to go to HMDA," Williams told council. "If the city sold the property, it would have to be put up for auction."

The shelter has been discussing implementation of the program for several years. The mayor said it would be a good fit as "one of the problems (the shelter has) is its difficult to separate sick from healthy animals." 

Once the property is transferred to HMDA , they can enter an agreement with MCTC which "we think is a proper use for property that has sat vacant for five years."

The contract contains a clause that if Mount West does not create the program within three years, the property reverts back to HMDA. 

 In other business, council approved demolition contracts for six structures.  Bids will go out for ten more in June. Charles Lemley, director of planning and development, explained that asbestos issues have been abated. 

One West End structure at 16th Street West "will have to be hauled away hot" and it is now under contract. 

The city's governing body also approved alterations to the Cabell Huntington Hospital Articles of Incorporation due to the merger with St. Mary's, as well as the Region II Hazard Mitigation grant.

K-9 officer Joe Denning told council and the public about a June 8 fundraiser at Fat Patty's to purchase bulletproof vests for K-9 units. Denning explained that the dog use their "noses" to locate suspects and often enter buildings before human officers. This will keep the K-9's safe from gunshots or stab wounds. 

Councilman Mike Shockley told discussions to put cameras on the K-9's as well. 

Denning added, "These K-9's would do anything to keep their handlers safe."

Donations can be sent to Spike's K-9 fund, PO Box 6473, Huntington, WV 25772.