With one quick jab of a shovel, Don McGehee on Monday broke the rocky ground on a vacant Brookings lot that will soon be home to the South Coast Humane Societys long-awaited animal shelter.

Its all going to be happening now, McGehee said with a smile.

He was joined at the ground-breaking ceremony at 828 Railroad Ave. by a handful of dogs and more than two dozen people.

Those attending the event included Humane Society members, representatives of the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce, city councilors Rick Dentino, Frances Johns and Mayor Bob Hagbom.

Society President Billie Sieg began the ceremony by thanking many of the people who have contributed to making the shelter a reality.

Id like to thank all of our many contributors, big and small, and especially our mystery contributor who gave us the money to build the shelter, and then more money that will help pay for the cost of running it, Sieg said.

She went on to thank structural engineer Buzz Hansen, who helped design the shelter, a custom facility based, in part, on plans from several existing shelters.

Sieg also thanked Les and Arlene Hambly who operate the societys thrift store, the volunteers who serve as foster parents to many animals, and Pacific Lumber for donating the wood that will be used to build the shelter.

All of you is whats going to make this shelter a success, Sieg told the crowd.

Curry County Animal Control Supervisor and Gold Beach resident Diane Pace presented Sieg with a framed certificate of appreciation and congratulations on getting the shelter built. The certificate was signed by Curry County Commissioners Cheryl Thorp, Lucie La Bont and Marlyn Schafer.

Hagbom said that both the Humane Society and the city had benefited in recent weeks from large anonymous donations. The city recently received $100,000 that will be used to build a skate park, and the society received $200,000.

About the planned shelter, Hagbom said, Its going to be a great facility for our pet friends.

Having a dog and a cat myself Id want to say that I enjoy and appreciate what you are doing and all the people who have helped make it happen.

After the speeches, Hagbom, Sieg, McGehee and several other people grabbed shovels and dug several divots into the hard gravel dirt.

The real excavation, McGehee said, will begin in early May, with the pouring of concrete foundations to follow soon after.

Richardson Construction, a Brookings firm, was contracted for the job. Hansen will oversee the construction.

The shelter is scheduled to be completed by December.

The society purchased land on Railroad Street for a shelter several months ago. The land has an existing structure that will be used for storage as the shelter is being built. The structure will be torn down after the shelter is built, McGehee said.

The building of the shelter was possible in large part to a $300,000 donation given to the society by an anonymous donor, the same person who recently gave the society another $200,000 for an endowment fund. Interest from the fund will help cover some of the daily operations costs.

McGehee estimates the shelters operating expenses at $100,000 a year.