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District 3 County Commissioner Unzell Kelley presents a check to Brittany Hogan, founder and executive director of Empowered to Conquer from COVID-19 CDBG funds the county received from the state. Photo submitted
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
Following a great deal of discussion over the past two months and action taken at the most recent County Commission meeting, seven county roads that were completed within the past year will now be repaved.
During the July 26 meeting, County Engineer Tad Eason provided an update regarding the paving jobs done by Gary Ingram Grading & Paving within the past year. The commission and Eason had previously discussed seven roads being in poor condition and had asked Eason to contact Gary Ingram regarding the matter.
Eason reported that he had spoken with the company and said that they would be willing to do a new surface for all of those roads with a smaller size rock. He explained that would help the roads “ride a little smoother.”
Eason further stated that the company said it would repave the roads if the county pays for the rock. He added that would be a cost of approximately $45,000 for the county.
District 1 Commissioner Randall Dunham stated that his opinion had not changed, stating that the county had already paid $300,000 for good roads and that they didn’t need to pay more. He said that he stood firm on that.
County attorney John K. Johnson also discussed the performance bond as an alternate route the commission could take if it so chose.
Eason said that was a decision the county had to make, whether to pay $45,000 for the rock or go the performance bond route. However, he said that he was not sure how that would go and that it might take a year if the county went that route instead.
District 5 Commissioner Lamar Daugherty said that he agreed with Dunham and that he did not want to spend more money. However, he said he had also been getting numerous calls regarding the road conditions, adding that he is worried about the roads being dangerous, especially in the winter.
District 4 Commissioner Ronnie Joiner said that it looks bad, but that he is also concerned about safety.
After further discussion, Eason said that he thinks it is a gamble to not pay the $45,000 and proceed with repaving the roads. He said that he thought that would be the best thing to do and would resolve the problem.
After adding the matter to the agenda for a vote, the commission approved paying approximately $45,000 for the needed rock and proceeding with repaving the roads. The motion passed with a 4-1 vote, with Dunham opposing the motion.
In later conversation separate from the meeting, Eason said the roads in subpar condition that will be repaved are County roads 11, 27, 42, 56, 77, 103, and 111.
Those seven roads had been projects completed within the past year. However, Eason explained the problem was that the rock began to leave the surface, leaving only the liquid asphalt on the roadway.
“In many cases this was for the length of the road, but not full width,” Eason said. “So the cohesion of the rock and CRS-2 did not perform as normal.”
CRS-2 is a cationic rapid-setting asphalt emulsion that is water based and designed for use as a binder for chip seals.
Eason further explained that the agreement is that Gary Ingram Grading & Paving will repave the entire surface of each roadway, furnishing all materials and labor except for the rock.
When asked if it was fair to say that the county paying $45,000 for the rock is a good compromise given the situation, Eason replied, “Yes, I felt this was the best way to move forward and correct the problem. Litigation could take months, and this type surface can only be placed within certain temperatures and is seasonal. As always I want to get the best job for the least money as we spend our money, the tax payers’ dollars.”
Also during that meeting the commission held a pre-construction conference with the contractor and engineer concerning the roof on the Department of Human Resources/Board of Education building. During that conference it was stated that work on the roof would ideally start the third week of August.
In other business during that meeting, the commission unanimously approved:
- The fiscal year 2022 County Rebuild Alabama Contractor Report.
- Rescinding a previous vote on establishing a county levy fee amount established July 12 and setting the fee according to the county resolution dated March 25, 2005. This included approving setting the levy fee at $100 to be the same as the state.
- Adopting a resolution for the updated Title VI Policy.
- Adopting a resolution for Section 5311 Nonurbanized Area Public Transportation.
- Acceptance of opioid settlements with McKesson for $10,633 and Johnson & Johnson for an unallocated amount and to allow the commission chair to execute the settlement document.
The commission and County Extension Coordinator Sharon Haynes also discussed mold issues at the County Extension Office.
The Extension Office has temporarily relocated to the E-911 building in Rockford until the matter can be resolved. The commission had an industrial hygienist come and take air and mold samples throughout the Extension building, offices and in the basement.
During last Tuesday morning’s meeting, County Administrator Amy Gilliland reported that the hygienist spent three hours in the county collecting samples and going through the buildings. She said that she did not have an official report at that time, but said that he would soon be providing an official report with a recommended protocol and other information.
Gilliland said that he did “a very thorough job” and that he said the air quality was okay. However, he did also recommend storing items in the basement elsewhere.
The commission will discuss the matter further at its next meeting after getting the official report from the industrial hygienist.
During last week’s meeting, District 3 Commissioner Unzell Kelley also made a presentation to Brittany Hogan, founder and executive director of Empowered to Conquer, of funds he allocated to her organization from COVID-19 funds the county received from the state.
Kelley explained that Empowered to Conquer, a nonprofit, provides services to the entire county and especially at the high school. Hogan, a Coosa County native, said that the faith-based organization was founded in Coosa County in 2009 with a mission to help students fulfill their purposes.
Also during the meeting, Revenue Commissioner Debra Lamberth provided the commission with final figures from the abstracts of assessments, exemptions and ad valorem taxes for the 2022 tax year.
She thanked her staff for all of the work they have done over the last year in the appraisal process, capturing values and new market sales, and more.
Lamberth said that everyone’s tax bill increased this year. She explained the county bases its costs on the 2015 Appraisal Manual, which they put into place in 2018, and she said they have to monitor on an annual basis.
As such, she said that they indexed upward by 12% on all costs over all constructed buildings, meaning that anything on the property had its value increased by 12%.
She added that in one area of the county they had to increase land values, and that was in the Lake Martin area where they increased those land values by 50%.
Lamberth said that while they had some increases, it will bring in revenue for the county. She provided some estimated figures to the commission.
She said the total revenue that they will collect this year is $5.15 million, which is up about $570,000 from last year’s abstract.
Of that, she said approximately $192,000 will go back into the county’s general fund; about $87,000 into the road and bridge fund; and that the school system will get about $250,000.
During last week’s meeting, the commission unanimously approved the Coosa County Animal Shelter project, which qualifies as an eligible project, as a government service using revenue replacement funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, with the commission approving a letter to that effect.
As previously discussed, the county plans to allocate between $30,000 and $50,000 to the animal shelter from its ARPA funds. The exact amount is expected to be decided at the September 13 meeting.
In other business, at last week’s meeting the County Commission:
- Heard from Olivia Nettles and Emily Mims with updates and information regarding Accordia Health and its clinic in Rockford.
- Unanimously approved removing nine surplus items from the Highway Department inventory and sell them on Govdeals, with some of the items including a 1989 Chevrolet S-10, 1990 Chevrolet S-10, two 1992 Chevrolet Blazers, three 1997 Ford F-150s, and more.
- Unanimously approved for the commission chair to sign a Payment Services Addendum with E-Ring Software Solutions Inc., a vendor for card payments through the revenue commission office.
- Heard from County Engineer Eason and Chad Odom, executive director of the Lake Martin Area Economic Development Alliance, with updates on the industrial park.
- Following a presentation from EMA Director Sheldon Hutcherson, unanimously approved setting a work session to be held at 4:30 p.m. August 30 to discuss and plan for hiring an EMS director for the county.
The commission also unanimously approved rescheduling its fourth Tuesday evening meeting to August 30 to alleviate a scheduling conflict because of the commission’s, engineer’s and administrative ACCA Conference being held next week.
The commission also briefly reviewed proposed re-districting plans for the county, with that matter being tabled until the next meeting.
The next meeting of the Coosa County Commission will be held at 6:30 p.m. August 30, following the work session to discuss hiring an EMS director.