County Commission handles organizational business
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Following the November 8 general election, the County Commission was sworn into office last Wednesday morning prior to its meeting, with Judge of Probate Richard Dean administering the oath of office as family members of commissioners stood by them. Pictured from left are Bethany Forbus (wife), Knox Forbus (son), District 1 County Commissioner John Forbus, Jennifer J. Joiner (wife), District 4 County Commissioner Ronnie Joiner, Wayne Davis (father), Brenda Davis (mother), District 3 County Commissioner Brandon Davis, Anthony W. McElrath (husband), District 2 County Commissioner Bertha Kelly-McElrath, Shea Duagherty (wife), and District 5 County Commissioner Lamar Daugherty. Photo by Christa Jennings
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
Last Wednesday morning, prior to its meeting, the County Commission was sworn into office with Judge of Probate Richard Dean administering the oath of office to all commissioners at one time while their family members proudly stood by.
This saw the return of three incumbent commissioners and two new faces joining the commission, District 1 County Commissioner John Forbus and District 3 County Commissioner Brandon Davis.
Following the swearing-in ceremony and after giving commissioners time to review the agenda and supporting documentation, the commission began its monthly meeting, starting with organizational business that follows after the election.
Regarding electing the chairperson for the commission, after no nominations were made in a timely manner, Commissioner Bertha Kelly-McElrath spoke up and nominated herself for chair. Commissioner Ronnie Joiner seconded the nomination, and it was unanimously approved.
The commission then went on to elect the commission vice-chair, with Joiner nominating Commissioner Lamar Daugherty. Forbus seconded this motion, and it was unanimously approved.
As such, no changes were made in the chair positions for the commission, with McElrath having served as chair since former Commissioner Randall Dunham’s resignation from the position, and Daugherty having served as vice-chair.
However, in other organizational business, the commission did ultimately change its meeting schedule.
Commissioner Davis stated that he would like to keep the meetings as they currently were, with a morning meeting and an evening meeting each month, because it gives people a chance to attend after work.
However, Joiner recommended canceling the second monthly meeting because of a lack of attendance and participation. He added that “no one has been showing up lately.”
Daugherty said that he also would like to cancel the second meeting, which was the evening meeting. Further, he said that he would also like to suggest moving the 9:30 a.m. meeting to 8:30 a.m., with Joiner voicing agreement.
However, McElrath suggested that if they move the meeting time that they change it to 9 a.m. instead of 8:30 so that it would not be as significant of a change, to which Daugherty and Joiner voiced agreement.
After discussion, Daugherty made a single motion to cancel the second monthly meeting and change the meeting time to 9 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Joiner seconded the motion, and it passed with a majority vote of 4-1.
McElrath opposed the motion, expressing that she was in favor of changing the meeting time, but not canceling the second monthly meeting.
Following that action, the commission will no longer meet on the fourth Tuesday of the month and will now meet once a month at 9 a.m. on the second Tuesday for its regularly scheduled meetings.
In other organizational business, the commission unanimously approved the “Rules of Procedure” for the commission, which are the same rules the commission has been operating under. County attorney John K. Johnson explained that the commission has to approve the rules during its organizational meeting.
In other business, during last Wednesday’s meeting the commission reviewed an employment contract with County Engineer Donald “Tad” Eason, whose previous contract had expired at midnight.
In addressing the commission, Eason said that he has been with the county for 27 years. Per the proposed contract, going forward his initial salary would be $136,224 per year.
It further states that the salary will be increased on the first anniversary date of the agreement, and each anniversary date thereafter, “to an amount equal to the maximum annual salary amount set by the salary scale for ‘State Participation for County Engineers, Pay Grade 0086,’ then in effect.”
Eason stated that the state provides 70% of his salary, with the county being responsible for paying 30% of his salary. This means that for the initial salary of $136,224, the county would pay $40,867.20.
The proposed employee contract would be for four years, with the agreement “continuing until the end of the term of office of the current commission,” although the agreement can be terminated earlier.
Also during discussion, Eason stated that he had lost his assistant, Phillip Neighbors, and that he would be looking for a new assistant. He and the commission mentioned having his next assistant be an engineer in training, or EIT, so that the pay rate would then be split with the state paying 50% of that employee’s salary and the county paying the other 50%.
During discussion, commissioners voiced their appreciation for Eason and the work he does, mentioning that he was well worth the money spent.
After discussion and reviewing the contract, the commission unanimously approved Eason’s employment contract.
In other business, the commission also unanimously approved:
- The County Courthouse being closed Friday, November 25, for the Thanksgiving holiday.
- The 2023 state holiday schedule, adding in the Friday after Thanksgiving.
- For the commission chair to sign the Cares Act CDBG-CV Certification, pertaining to funds from districts 1 and 4 being reallocated from a food bank to all of the county’s volunteer fire departments.
- For Chair McElrath to sign the Designation of Responsible Officials for CDBG-CV.
- Adopting a resolution using ARPA, or American Rescue Plan Act, funds for the County Road 71 project, which entails pulling funds for the project from the previously approved fund allocation.
- For McElrath to sign the ARPA fund resolution for the County Road 71 project.
- For Mcelrath to sign the ARPA fund resolution for the purchase of Coosa County Rescue 22 Ambulance, with County Administrator Amy Gilliland explaining they have to have a resolution in place for this. She said the county has purchased the ambulance, but that it will take about six months for it to be fully operational.
- Removing certain Highway Department items and declaring those items as surplus.
Also during the meeting, Glenn Forbes addressed the commission regarding broadband issues and the need for broadband in his area. He said that there are about 30-35 residents with no internet service at all in the area he lives, explaining that they live in a rural pocket that has no broadband internet providers available to serve it.
Commissioner Daugherty, who works with Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, mentioned their broadband subsidiary, Central Access, and said that they are working on the isolated spots and secluded areas. He said that it is coming along but is a work in progress, adding that he would get Forbes’ contact information and follow up with him about the issue.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Coosa County Commission will be held at 9 a.m. December 13.