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Time for county, town to work together
After four long years, there is light at the end of the tunnel for the new Senior Center in Rockford. It is my understanding the new center is nearing completion and will open soon…exciting!
As the former town clerk of Rockford, I can attest to the hard work and planning it took to get to this point. My second day on the job for the town Mr. Paul Perrett came to my office to introduce himself and explained his vision of getting a new senior center for Coosa County. At this point, a grant for the center had been written, and the town was waiting to hear if it had been approved. Mr. Perrett told me he had been working on getting this project done for years and was optimistic the grant would be approved.
I will never forget the day Mr. Perrett came to my office to tell me the grant had been approved; Coosa County would finally have a new senior center! We exchanged high-fives and talked about how now was the time to roll up our sleeves and start the real work to see this project through.
I was not a decision maker on this project. My job was to handle the paperwork; maintain good records; attend meetings; gather information from ADECA, East Alabama Regional Planning and Development, the project engineer, etc.; and report that information to the mayor and Town Council. This was a long and sometimes frustrating process as there were many delays and roadblocks to overcome, including two bid cycles that proved to be unsuccessful in securing a contractor because the bids were over budget.
After the two failed bid attempts, the town was allowed to secure a contractor without going through another bid process. Mayor Lewis reached out to several contractors, including someone local who initially agreed to do the project. Just when we thought work would soon begin on the new center, that local contractor backed out. We were back to square one; more delays, more frustration. That local contractor was Ronnie Joiner. I understand his decision to back out, but it was a disappointment, nonetheless.
In a recent article in this paper, Mr. Joiner stated that there were building issues with the new center, referring to those issues as “such a mess” and “substandard.” I am not a contractor, and I respect Mr. Joiner’s experience and expertise. However, with his 50 years of contractor experience, I’m sure he knows that every project of this scope requires a final inspection, especially when dealing with grant funds. When the work is complete at the new center, there will be a final inspection, and if anything is found to be substandard, it will be corrected.
Mr. Joiner also stated in the article that the commission needs to have more input as the building belongs to the county. It concerns me that Mr. Joiner now wants the commission to become more involved in the project…at the eleventh hour. I know during my tenure as town clerk there was every opportunity for the commission to get involved in the planning and decision making. All the records pertaining to the project are a matter of public record and are always available for anyone to review. When I retired, the new town clerk inherited a huge file with those records. I noted everything pertaining to the project, and I can tell you I never received a request from any commissioner to review those records or to become involved in the decision making process. I am speaking only for myself. Mayor Lewis and/or the Town Council may have received such requests, but those requests never came across my desk.
So, here we are…at the finish line and Mr. Joiner wants the commission to provide input. My questions are “Why now?” and “Where have you been?” I know as someone who worked diligently on this project for the town, the commission’s input, suggestions, ideas, help, and encouragement would have been welcomed completely.
Now is the time for the county and town to work together without negativity or competition; not only for our seniors, but for all the citizens they represent respectively.
I personally want to thank the commission for recognizing the need for a new senior center and allowing the town to pursue the grant funds on their behalf. I also want to thank all the organizations and individuals who played a part in making this happen, including Mayor Randall Lewis and the Rockford Town Council. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to Mr. Paul Perrett for his dedication, enthusiasm and perseverance in making his vision a reality. I know he would be thrilled to finally be at the finish line! Thank you, Jennifer Tindall, town clerk, and Mayor Scott White. Taking on this project was no small task. Believe me, I know the hours of hard work you have put into it. Lastly, I want to thank our seniors. They have been frustrated right along with me during this process, and I appreciate their patience and understanding.
It is my hope that people will come together and support our seniors and the new senior center. After all, this was the purpose of the project from the beginning.