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Commission discusses graphite project, approves road projects
By Christa Jennings
During last Tuesday morning’s County Commission, commissioners and other representatives discussed infrastructure funding relating to Westwater Resources locating in the Kellyton industrial park and other related matters.
Chad Odom; executive director for Lake Martin Area Economic Development Alliance, or LMAEDA; addressed the commission to discuss updates on the graphite infrastructure funding.
Odom stated that so far the funding is falling in line, adding that everyone is doing and will continue to do their parts to the best of their abilities.
Odom further reviewed Alexander City’s part in the project and how much funding it is providing to help the project move forward. He also briefly reviewed Coosa County’s obligation to the project, which relates to road and bridge access across Cat Creek in Kellyton.
However, he said they are putting critical needs of the project first. He explained that Coosa County’s obligation is not crucial to commencing operations, so they are focusing on other priorities at this time, meaning the county can take longer to get funding for the road if needed.
Odom also mentioned various avenues of potential funding for the road and bridge access, including Alabama Department of Transportation’s industrial access. He also mentioned the option of utilizing Growing Alabama tax credits next year, saying that they “should still be a sexy project to be able to go in and get some allocation for that.”
“Even if it takes longer to get the funding, you’re still going to be able to meet your obligation,” Odom told the commission. “There’s no scenario I can foresee where Coosa County is not going to meet their obligation under the project agreement to provide what they should provide.”
Commission Chair Randall Dunham said that they appreciate what Alexander City is doing for the project.
No action was taken as the matter was for discussion only. However, another agenda item also related to Westwater Resources and the Coosa graphite project.
Al Jones, community development director for Alexander City, presented the commission with a resolution and Intergovernmental Agreement for the projects in the industrial park in Kellyton.
A resolution from Alexander City was to authorize Mayor Woody Baird to execute the Intergovernmental Agreement with the Coosa County Commission “for implementation of the [Community Development Block Grant] Sewer Collection Project for the Alabama Graphite Products LLC.”
The resolution states that Coosa County has received a Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, to “extend the City of Alexander City sewer collection system to serve Alabama Graphite Products LLC., which is locating in the Lake Martin Regional Industrial Park in Kellyton.”
It further explained that the Intergovernmental Agreement outlines the responsibilities of each entity relating to the sewer project and CDBG funding.
Jones said the cost estimate for the sewer project is $11.3 million, adding that “Alexander City is on the hook for that money.”
“We are prepared and willing to spend all that money to get this done,” Jones stated.
He added that they went to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, or ADECA, to get the grant to help with that expense. He said ADECA was more than willing to commit to a $1 million grant, but that they wanted it to come through Coosa County.
Jones reviewed information with the commission, explaining that the ADECA grant is for $1 million, and Alexander City’s match is listed at $8 million. He said that does not add up to the $11.3 million cost estimate, but that it is because Alexander City has hired engineers and grant consultants outside of the project area and “will spend even more money than that outside of the project.”
The project is to run a 6-8-mile long sewer line run from Kellyton to Alexander City, with an 18-month deadline to complete it. He added that was two months ago, meaning that they have approximately 16 months left to complete the sewer collection project.
“We’re going to make it work, whatever it takes,” Jones said. “Alex City wants to be the best partner you’ve ever had.”
In further discussion, including discussion with county attorney John K. Johnson, Jones explained that ADECA wants Coosa County to be the entity to apply for the grant. He added that ADECA is already committed to the $1 million grant toward the project and is just waiting on the application.
He further explained that Alexander City would be completely responsible for matching funds, with no money coming out of Coosa County’s pockets. He said the county would only be reimbursing the city money through the ADECA grant.
In part, the Intergovernmental Agreement reads, “The City of Alexander City agrees to provide all local matching funds and other resources as may be required to complete the project as set forth in the county’s grant application. All CDBG grant funds will flow through the Coosa County Commission to the City of Alexander City upon receipt of invoices. All project invoices must be signed by the Coosa County administrator and the mayor of the City of Alexander City.”
After discussion, with all commissioners present, the County Commission unanimously approved the Intergovernmental Agreement of Understanding and adopting the resolution pertaining to the county applying for the $1 million grant.
In other business, Zack Shields, regional planner with East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission, presented the commission with a resolution including cost estimates for CDBG fund application for road projects.
Shields got the information together for the commission to include American Legion Road, County Road 71 and County Road 38 in the road projects for that CDBG fund.
The commission unanimously approved and adopted the resolution for the CDBG fund application for those road projects.
In a related matter, the commission also unanimously approved revising its Fiscal Year 2021 Rebuild Alabama Plan. With County Road 71 now being part of the CDBG projects, the plan was revised to remove that road from the project list and add four roads in its place – County roads 103, 97, 42, and 12.
For County Road 103, the plan includes 1.24 miles and would entail surface treatment from County Road 71 to County Road 40.
County Road 97 would be for asphalt pavement from Alabama Highway 9 to Alabama Highway 115, a project of 0.55 miles.
For County Road 42, it would be a 1.2 mile project for surface treatment from 1.2 miles west of County Road 71 to County Road 71.
County Road 12 would be a 0.98-mile project for surface treatment from Alabama Highway 259 to the Tallapoosa County line.
Additionally, County Engineer Tad Eason also reviewed the Fiscal Year 2022 Rebuild Alabama Plan with the commission, with the plan having to be submitted by the end of the month.
He said that the projects will mostly be done next year. Eason added that he talked to the commissioners and tried to split the money evenly among their districts.
The proposed plan includes County Road 74 in District 1, County roads 44 and 131 in District 2, County Road 71 in District 3, the portion of County Road 2 from Memory Lane to the Elmore County line in District 4, and County Road 55 in District 5.
After review and brief discussion, the commission unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2022 Rebuild Alabama Plan to include those road projects.
In other business, the commission:
- Unanimously approved salary reclassifications for the payroll/accounts payable clerk and accounts receivable clerk, which will include a raise of $2 per hour per clerk.
- Unanimously approved for the Highway Department to bid out supplies such as fuel, asphalt, cement, and more as it does annually.
- Unanimously approved rescheduling the fourth Tuesday meeting this month to August 31 because of the commissioners attending the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, or ACCA, conference.
- Nominated and unanimously approved Commissioner Lamar Daugherty to serve in the legislative committee position for ACCA.
- Approved accepting a $5,000 donation from the Forestry Commission as a gift to be used for gravel at Flagg Mountain, with Commissioner Unzell Kelley abstaining from voting on the matter.
- Unanimously approved setting 12 p.m. Thursday the week prior to commission meetings as the deadline for adding items to the meeting agenda.
- Discussed right of way mowing in each district relative to general fund participation.
- Briefly discussed the American Recovery Plan and establishing priorities for it.
The next Coosa County Commission meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. August 31.