Some Homestead area residents were recently upset when Cumberland County officials removed cat shelters, food and feeding bowls from the Homestead Convenience Center.

Many residents who use the center to dispose of their household garbage frequently see the cats at the facility.

Employees at the center have been feeding the cats and some people have brought in shelters for them to use during bad weather.

“I had no idea there was a problem until I came in today and everything was gone,” Annie Wilson, convenience operator, said.

Wilson greets nearly every customer with a big smile and a friendly hello. If they happen to have a dog with them she usually greets the pet and offers a treat.

“I love people and animals. I try to be friendly with everyone,” she said.

Sheila Long Homestead resident sent the Chronicle a message Tuesday through Facebook and said the convenience center supervisor, “came to the dump along with another assistant and threw away all of the cat’s beds, food dishes and water bowls … These cats up at the dump (are) not hurting anyone and not costing the county any money. I know many people that look forward to seeing those cats when they come through and we all bring food for them. They have been fixed and are not a problem now. My personal opinion that is a form of animal cruelty. (To) go in without warning and remove food and shelter. At least give someone a heads up and let’s get them somewhere.”

Conrad Welch, Cumberland County building maintenance supervisor and interim solid waste director, said they were out there routinely “cleaning up the facility.”

“Some of the beds and items they were using were made of cardboard and were rotting. We’re trying to make it better by cleaning up the facility. Only one of the cats there is tame; the rest of them are ferrel,” Welch said.

Welch said animal control was not called and none of the cats were removed from the facility earlier this week.

Welch said he was meeting with representatives of Focus on Cumberland County Animal Safety Thursday morning to discuss the group providing a more permanent shelter installed in the wooded area directly behind the convenience center.

“We want to make it a little safer for both the people pulling into the convenience center and the cats,” Welch said.

He said he and one of the assistants, Jimmy Eller, were not throwing away only the beds and shelters for the cats. They were picking up trash and garbage, such as wiring and other items that shouldn’t be laying around on the grounds at the facility.

“We’re working on a plan to give the cats something a little more permanent and away from the main part of the center where the people are coming in. We can’t really have cats living in the convenience center,” Welch said.

Wilson said she was surprised by the public’s reaction and support. She said she’s had dozens of people bring more food and offer support.

“This may just be a garbage dump to some people but I have met a lot of wonderful people and friends here,” Wilson said. “That would be real nice if they put the shelter in.”

Welch said he hopes to have a couple of them installed within the next few days.

He said he was waiting on the confirmation from FOCCAS President Dr. Mark Hendrixson.

Gary Nelson may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com

Crossville Chronicle senior staff writer