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Animal vet facility planned in Hampshire County

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By MARLA PISCIOTTA 
For The State Journal

ROMNEY — Through the tightest of economic times and with many hours of hard work behind him, Isaac Lewis, Hampshire High School agriculture teacher, said approval of $240,000 from the state will finish funding the school's Animal Vet Technology Facility.

The $240,000 was appropriated through the state budget.

"The House of Delegates put a line item in the budget for the $240,000. The Senate approved it and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed off on it," Lewis said.

 The total project is estimated to cost $1.145 million. Lewis said $800,000 came from the School Building Authority. The Hampshire County Board of Education is funding $100,000.

"The good thing about this is that obtaining the monies went through a lot of tests, which makes me feel good. When people see the value in this facility and the value of what it will mean to West Virginia," said Lewis.

Sen. Donald H. Cookman, D-Hampshire,  said all the credit for the project coming to fruition goes to Lewis.

"Although I may have had some influence on the final decision to fully fund the project, Isaac Lewis, teacher extraordinaire, deserves the credit in making this project a reality. We are fortunate to have an educator with his vision and initiative in the Hampshire County school system. Educators of this caliber make a difference in our school system and, most importantly, in our students," said Cookman.

The project was a dream for Lewis. Over the years he has kept it in the eyes of legislators and the School Building Authority. 

 The 4,800-square foot building will be located along the left side of the drive going up to the middle school adjacent to HHS.

Designed by architects McKinley and Associates of Wheeling, the facility will house a surgical room for cats and dogs, a laboratory, a classroom, an area for grooming and bathing cats and dogs, a laundry, locker rooms for men and women, an office and rooms for technology and mechanical facilities.

Lewis credits a number of people for their support, including the state's former commissioner of agriculture, the state veterinarian, the director of the National Port Center of Excellence, Hampshire graduates, current students, parents, the West Virginia Racing Commission, the greyhound adoption center, and "even the ag teacher from the Schools for the Deaf and Blind."

"This is going to be a phenomenal facility and will get national exposure. Lewis said, "We have broken a lot of boundaries. We let people know it's OK to have animals in the school."