For group home residents, life is good after improvements

Scott Lederman, an electrician with Bamber Electric, installs new lights above one of the doors of a Mohave County-owned building at 950 Buchanan St. The $110,000 construction and renovation project that was approved by the Mohave County Board of Supervisors is nearing completion and will bring the facility into compliance with city codes and the American With Disabilities Act.<BR>BUTCH MERIWETHER/Courtesy

Scott Lederman, an electrician with Bamber Electric, installs new lights above one of the doors of a Mohave County-owned building at 950 Buchanan St. The $110,000 construction and renovation project that was approved by the Mohave County Board of Supervisors is nearing completion and will bring the facility into compliance with city codes and the American With Disabilities Act.<BR>BUTCH MERIWETHER/Courtesy

KINGMAN - My name is Jake and you've probably never met me or heard of my plight. I am also willing to bet my next meal you've never been to where I currently live.

The place where I'm staying with Barney, Gertrude, Shorty and about 50 others isn't a four-star luxury hotel, but is only an older, modest 5,156 square-foot single story place.

It can be a bit cramped once in a while, but that's OK because we'd rather be living here than defending our lives on the streets of Mohave County. Yes, we all have a common bond and we call the place we live our group home.

No, our names are not actually what I told you because I want to protect the innocent victims who have ended up here along with me.

You probably wonder why so many of us live in a 5,156 square-foot place. Well, the truth is most of us were neglected and abandoned. That's right; our family members became tired of us and didn't want us around anymore, so they basically kicked us to the curb like yesterday's trash.

Some of us ran away from our homes because we felt our family members didn't pay much attention to us. Many times we were left outside to fend for ourselves on the streets, and sometimes we didn't even know where our next meal might come from.

During the monsoon season, it was almost unbearable for us living in the group home. The older evaporative coolers on the roofs didn't properly operate and at times, the temperatures soared into the humid mid-to-high eighties inside our living quarters.

That's right, life was tough for us in the group home, but I'm happy to say our prayers have been answered and we're extremely excited that our quality of life is much better thanks to a few dedicated people.

The people who run our group home contacted their landlord and told them there were some problems with the facility that needed to be fixed. They explained one of the biggest problems was the facility didn't meet the requirements for the American With Disabilities Act. That might not sound like a big deal, but if someone in a wheelchair wanted to visit our home to adopt one of us, they were not able to maneuver through the facility. And what that means if we didn't receive exposure, we were destined to live here for a very long time. As all of you know, everyone deserves a home where you are loved.

Because the landlord learned of the sultry conditions we were living in, the landlord's employees were instructed to get the "ball rolling" on capital improvements to the 42-year-old facility.

"While the organization running the facility is responsible for the upkeep and normal operating facility costs," said Mohave County Public Works Director Steven Latoski, "the county, as a building owner, is obligated to perform all facility maintenance and repairs which exceeds $5,000."

Latoski said the Mohave County Board of Supervisors approved a total budget of $129,500 in December 2011 for the design and construction of repairs necessary to the facility. The project repairs fell into three categories:

• Replacement of 10 doors, frames and hardware as well as installation of nine door lintels;

• A complete electrical renovation that included replacing the entire indoor electrical wiring and panels, replacement of the existing power pole, and replacement of all power receptacles and outdoor security lights; and

• The outdated evaporative coolers were swapped out because they showed significant signs of corrosion due to the poor water quality.

After almost a year of evaluations and planning, the BOS awarded a $76,250 construction contract to Woodruff Construction of Flagstaff. The contract also included:

• $18,365 for unforeseen electrical repair work not contemplated in the project design plans;

• $11,438 project contingency allowance for unforeseen conditions and/or corrective work required as per Kingman city codes;

• $1,525 project administration and construction engineering fees for the Public Works contract management; and

• $3,890 for construction special inspections and testing by AMTI Sunbelt, LLP of Fort Mohave.

It is now April and we're glad the actual 90-day construction and rehabilitation project is almost complete. Our quality of life has gone from what it was to a more comfortable condition for Barney, Gertrude, Shorty, the other residents and me.

You probably have already figured it out, but we are the four-legged residents at the animal shelter. We are thankful for the Western Arizona Humane Society which operates our group home, and for its vision of making our quality of lives better during the period we wait for someone to adopt us.

And most of all, we want to thank those employees and elected officials of Mohave County who took the time and funds to improve our living conditions at the group home.

Always remember, dogs have masters and cats have staff. If you have a void in your heart and want to fill it, visit the animal shelter at 950 Buchanan St. because there are residents there waiting for your love.

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