Although Abbeville County's newly minted animal shelter ultimately opened late, county staff say use of in-house labor allowed them to keep costs down.

Saturday’s opening in the shadow of the Prysmian Copper Wire Tower came almost exactly six months after Charlie Stone, then a member of the Abbeville County Council, used an oversized pair of scissors to cut a red ribbon in the shelter lobby on Dec. 20. County Director David Garner estimated the shelter would open within 30 days at the time.

“We had originally wanted to open in November, and then it got pushed back to February and then it got pushed back again,” said shelter assistant Rose Linker. “But we did set the deadline for June 22nd and went ahead and opened.”

Garner said the county's maintenance department, consisting of director Randy Caldwell and David Smith, constructed the shelter almost entirely on themselves except for pouring and grading concrete and laying blocks for kennels. All the while, Caldwell and Smith still oversaw repairs and maintenance at several county properties.

“This building, EMS stations, not all the fire departments but like the fire headquarters," Garner said Monday in his office at the county administrative building. "Big one is the jail. So the jail and the law enforcement center, that’s a big-time time constraint on them."

The Abbeville County Detention Center had 42 inmates as of Monday morning, including one inmate being housed for Greenwood. 

"We’ve had a lot of repairs and things that have been going on just with some of our aging facilities like the jail," Garner said. "Wasn’t anything particular that kept it slowed up or anything, no major events, it’s just the nature of the beast when you only have a crew of two people being able to work on it.”

Garner thanked Smith and Caldwell for their work at Saturday’s opening and estimated the shelter, funded in part by outside grants, could have cost $750,000 if the county used an outside vendor for construction. Instead, he said, costs ran just below $200,000 with an outdoor playfield still to be planted.

At December's dedication ceremony, then-county animal services director Chris Wilson estimated the shelter was 95 percent complete. The Humane Society of Greenwood named Wilson its executive director in February.

Wilson recalled Monday that some interior work on the shelter's kennels and grooming room remained at the time of December's dedication. He added that he hasn't seen the finished product, but had "good conversations" with his successor, county animal services director Jessica Bridges.