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Reichert not saying who he wants to run animal shelter | News

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Reichert not saying who he wants to run animal shelter
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Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert wouldn't comment Tuesday on his choice to run the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter, but last week he asked the commission to approve Van VanDeWalker.

"We went with Mr. VanDeWalker because we think his connections to the community are a strong point for him," Mayor Reichert told 13WMAZ's Anita Oh.

But the commission didn't act last week on Reichert's appointment of VanDeWalker, putting the choice off for further discussion.

The animal welfare director job is currently held by Sarah Tenon. She's been in the post for about a year and a half.

Reichert wouldn't give any specifics as to why he wanted her out and said both candidates are qualified, but he praised VanDeWalker's ties to the community.

He says Tenon hasn't done a bad job but that she needs to work on developing community involvement with the shelter.

"If we come back with Ms. Tenon, obviously she's going to have some work to do to get the support of the community," Reichert said.

Reichert said he'll make another suggestion next week, but he wouldn't say Tuesday if that recommendation would be Tenon or VanDeWalker.

VanDeWalker previously worked at the animal control facility, but quit after the former Bibb County Commission hired Tenon.

Last week, County Commissioner Mallory Jones said Tenon had alienated animal-adoption groups who support the shelter.

"Without their cooperation and without their help, all you have is an animal disposal," Jones said.

But commissioner Scotty Shepherd says Tenon should keep her job.

"You don't fix what isn't broken. She's done the job. She cleaned the place up and made it a healthy place for animals to be. Where I'm sure Mr. VanDeWalker is a super nice guy, I think Sarah is a better manager of personnel," Shepherd said.

In a statement to 13WMAZ Tuesday, VanDeWalker said he's "still hopeful" he can serve the community as director.

"There have been too many healthy and adoptable animals put down at our shelter. It doesn't have to be this way," part of VanDeWalker's statement reads.

VanDeWalker is popular with animal rights groups and supporters have used his "AC Pup" mascot page on Facebook to campaign for the director's job and rally support.

Meanwhile, Tenon declined comment until Reichert announces his decision.

Clifford Howard was approved as the director of public works but has decided to retire at the end of the month, according to Mayor Reichert. He says he expects to bring choices for that position, along with the animal welfare director position and the director of small business affairs, to the commission next week.


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