MOUNT CARMEL — PETWORKS and the Hawkins County Humane Society made their arguments to the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen during Thursday’s workshop on why the city should contract with them.

Board members said afterwards, however, that they won’t make a decision on the future of Mount Carmel animal control services until they receive an assessment on what repairs are needed at the current animal shelter from a construction expert, as well as a professional cost estimate.

The idea of outsourcing animal control services was brought forth at the Jan. 28 BMA meeting during a discussion on the leaking roof at the animal shelter.

Police Chief Ken Lunsford Jr. told the BMA that a roofer who inspected the facility stated he “wouldn’t touch it.” The roofer reportedly stated the building isn’t structurally sound and wouldn’t support a new roof.

Tom Parham and Joe Herron, who are members of the PETWORKS board of directors, told the BMA Thursday they would provide Mount Carmel with animal shelter service at their Kingsport facility for $35,000 per year and animal control service for an additional $5,000 per year.

Parham and Herron answered questions from the BMA for almost exactly one hour, and a video of that conversation can be seen in the online version of this article at

Hawkins County Humane Society board President Dave Toll told the BMA the HCHS could provide shelter and animal control services to Mount Carmel for $36,000 annually. Toll noted, however, that the price is negotiable.

Toll answered the BMA’s questions for nearly a half hour, and a separate video of that conversation can be seen in the online version of this article as well.

Sherry Sexton, Mount Carmel’s animal control officer, who has been in that position since 2016, admitted that she is worried about losing her job. She said her location within the city means that she can provide faster service to local residents.

“I do need some repair on the building,” Sexton told the board. “I (was) told by the police chief that he did have one person look at it, and the guy said he wouldn’t touch it. In my opinion I feel like we should have more than one person look at the building. The $30,000 to $40,000 that this man said it was going to take, personally I don’t believe it. Maybe that’s what he wanted to charge.”

City Manager Mike Housewright said he would have the building inspector do a detailed report on what repairs are needed for the facility.

Vice Mayor Tresa Mawk said she also wants a building contractor to provide a cost estimate for repairs as well.

“I want to know if it’s fixable, if he would just give us a ballpark price,” Mawk said.

“I don’t think we’re at a place where the board is ready to make a decision on PETWORKS, the Humane Society, or repairs,” Housewright said. “Let me get all the information for the building repair to you guys.”

Alderman Jim Gilliam said he doesn’t believe in outsourcing work. He said he doesn’t want to see Sexton lose her job, and he believes the facility can be fixed.

“I really think that you will have a lot of citizens in an uproar if you try to take it out,” Gilliam told the board Thursday.

That statement was directed at Housewright, who replied that he’s not trying to take anything out.

“I’m not trying to outsource the animal control. I’m not trying to outsource the sewer,” he said. “There’s been a lot of allegations cast my way, and basically it’s been from people in your camp. The simple fact is, I’m giving the board options. While you sat here and railed against the gentlemen who came here to make proposals, the fact of the matter is the majority of this board does like to see options, whether we keep it in house, or whether we take it outside.”

“They all want money,” Gilliam said. “When they get the money, they’re gone.”

Alderman Darby Patrick told the Times News on Friday that board members will tour PETWORKS on Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m.