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Humane Society of Greater Akron purchases facility

By Kathy Antoniotti
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Kristin Branagan, director of behavior and adoption service, walks one of the dogs available for adoption in the kennel area at the Humane Society of Greater Akron on Tuesday, in Twinsburg. The organization has raised $550,000 and is able to purchase the portion of the building they have been renting from the county's Finance Authority. (Paul Tople/Akron Beacon Journal)

TWINSBURG TWP.: Humane Society of Greater Akron has purchased the Darrow Road property it had been leasing since 2010 from the Development Finance Authority (previously the Port Authority) of Summit County.

The HSGA board of directors decided a year ago that the building, currently housing sick, abused and neglected animals, is a good fit.

The board voted in February to purchase the 48,000-square-foot section of the building.

“I certainly supported it,” Executive Director Karen Hackenberry said of the board’s decision. “We knew from our experience in our new site that we had made the right decision. It’s the right fit for us.”

The agency has made great strides using donated funds to build a fenced, outdoor exercise area, a large isolation room for cats and a state-of-the-art medical/surgical suite since its move to the facility from a barn on Quick Road in Boston Township three years ago, Hackenberry said Tuesday.

On Monday, the Humane Society announced the $500,000 down payment on the $2.25 million property was raised through donations since September.

The mortgage is structured to enable the organization to make affordable payments and still save for ongoing building maintenance and future development of the site, Hackenberry said.

Chris Burnham, president of the Development Finance Authority, said Monday that the sale is a done deal and a “win-win” for everyone involved.

“The money is on deposit. The DFA will redeem its bonds tomorrow,” Burnham said Tuesday.

The Humane Society will continue to lease 13,500 square feet of the space to Hattie Larlham for programs and its executive offices. The nonprofit organization, dedicated to providing opportunities for children and adults with developmental disabilities, runs Doggie Day Care and Constant Companions programs at the site.

Twinsburg Township, which stores Service Department equipment in a 20,000-square-foot section of the building, has purchased its space as well, Burnham said.

Akron attorney Patrick Weschler, 2013 board chairman for the HSGA, said a small group of board members, volunteers and staff members formed the Leadership Society with the goal of raising funds to make the purchase possible.

“It was conducted as a person-to-person campaign. It was really just spreading the story of what we’ve done,” he said.

Former board member Carianne Burnley led the charge, beginning a social media campaign called the Amazing Raise, which brought in $14,000 in small donations in a few months to help meet the goal, Hackenberry said.

She credits key volunteers — retired Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Spicer, Dr. Harvey Weil, the late Dr. Frederick J. Keller — and board and staff members for buying the site for the agency whose mission is to provide a safe haven for animals in peril and to find them “forever homes.”

“This provides our organization with a real sense of security. We now have a forever home, too,” Hackenberry said.

Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or kantoniotti@thebeaconjournal.com.


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