In the coming months, Lodi's abandoned and homeless cats will have larger quarters in which to eat, sleep, play and do what cats do.
In other actionDuring their regular meeting Wednesday, Lodi City Council members also:
• Approved plans and specifications, and authorized advertisement, for bids to widen Lower Sacramento Road between Harney and Kettleman lanes.
A median proposed to be installed outside the Lower Sacramento Road entrance to the Food 4 Less drew criticism. More than five spoke out against the project, all taking issue with the island that will prevent southbound drivers from turning left into the SunWest shopping center from Lower Sacramento Road as they do now. After a discussion that lasted close to an hour-and-a-half, the council voted to allow staff to work with tenants of the center for possible alternatives.
• Approved a new 75-foot-high electronic display sign for Key Advertising, Inc. on Beckman Road. After being delayed since April, the council on Wednesday unanimously approved the sign with a new operating agreement outlining various requirements. Among other things, the sign is expected to advertise community events, broadcast Amber Alerts dictated by the California Highway Patrol and show the current time and temperature.
• Voted in favor of an $82,154 agreement with an outside firm to administer the city's workers' compensation claims between Oct. 1, 2004 and Sept. 30, 2005. It is a 2 percent increase over the current annual fee.
• Authorized Interim City Manager Janet Keeter to increase the appropriation for engineering services associated with the Killelea Substation reconstruction project at a cost of $51,000.
• Approved a $160,523 purchase of 10 self-supporting steel poles for the Electric Utility Department.
• Recognized Amanda Rausch as this month's Teen of the Month, a program sponsored by the Greater Lodi Area Youth Commission. Rausch is a student at St. Mary's High School.
• Heard presentations regarding this year's Hospice Tree Lighting, the 9th Annual Parade of Lights, both set for Dec. 2, and the Adopt-A-Child Christmas program.
• Postponed meeting behind closed doors to discuss a union contract with the Police Dispatchers Association.
By 10:45 p.m., the City Council had not yet discussed paying for groundwater monitoring wells. The cost is estimated at $600,000, or more.
And those that come in with injuries will be allowed the peace and quiet needed to recuperate in a new triage area until adopted.
The City Council late Wednesday unanimously approved allowing new nonprofit People Assisting Lodi Shelter to pay for a temporary building to house more than 30 cats and their cages now scattered throughout the already crowded shelter on Kettleman Lane.
"With no new animal shelter in the near future, it shows how we can come together and improve conditions at the shelter … and with no funds from the city," said Police Partners supervisor Jeanie Biskup, who replaces Capt. David Main in overseeing the shelter.
PALS hope the new modular building will not only help with overcrowding, but provide an environment to increase pet adoptions and separate unhealthy animals from the healthy ones.
With the new adoption center, Cassie's Garden -- a room at the shelter filled with wooden furniture that allows cats to roam free in a natural environment similar to a house -- will be turned into a triage area for injured and recovering animals.
Rent on the building, which will be moved from the city skatepark where it is now sitting unused, will be paid for by PALS. And, if a new shelter is built, the temporary building will be abandoned, the group's attorney said.
Members have been volunteers at the shelter for years and recently formed a group to raise money for the shelter.
Wearing purple stickers displaying the group's logo, eight of them waited for more than three hours for the item to be heard at Wednesday's meeting.
Mayor Larry Hansen had nothing but positive feedback for the group's efforts.
"I want to commend staff and the PALS organization. This is a great partnership. Your hearts are so in the right place for our four-legged friends," he said.
"This helps the deplorable conditions we have out there."
Councilman Keith Land agreed with the mayor's compliments, but voiced disappointment that the city has to use a temporary building. A new one is among the capital projects currently on hold due to the city's budget woes.
"This is nothing but a bandage on a huge gaping wound," he said. "But we don't have the money to build a new shelter, so we do what we have to do."
Under the agreement approved Wednesday, shelter staff will continue to conduct adoptions at the current shelter and in the new building. PALS volunteers plan to maintain the new structure, clean the cages and care for the cats until they are adopted.
Eventually, the volunteers hope to staff the new building during all adoption hours, the staff report said.
Contact reporter Jennifer Pearson Bonnett at email@example.com.