Commission approves numerous items, discusses road closure
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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
During its May meeting, the County Commission relatively quickly approved numerous items before having a somewhat lengthy discussion regarding a potential road closure in the Goodwater area.
The road closure pertained to Kerry Lane, which has been brought up at previous commission meetings and had been tabled to look into further.
However, during its meeting this month, the commission heard from county attorney John K. Johnson, who provided the commission with copies of two statutes, Code of Alabama sections 23-4-20 and 23-4-2, regarding vacating roads. He further talked to the commission about the two different ways public roads may be vacated.
Ultimately, those two ways are for either the property owners to initiate the closure of the road or for the County Commission to decide to vacate the road, with either method having specific processes and procedures to follow in order to do it legally.
Johnson stated that the public generally dislikes closing public roads, adding that even property owners generally have some opposition, and mentioned it being up to the commission whether it wanted to take on the responsibility and expense of vacating the road, as previously requested by some property owners.
Johnson further said that they could do it either way, but that most people do not want the County Commission sitting as the “decision maker or instigator” in closing a road, further stating that roads are public for a reason.
He went on to review the process for the county or property owners to close the road and said that if the commission wants to incur the expense and questions about why it closed the road then it could approve the matter and proceed.
In ongoing discussion, Johnson mentioned that no one has the right to close or block a public road except in those two instances with the proper process followed to legally close it.
He added that if an individual puts a gate on a public road to close it then that is illegal. He said that people are supposed to let the engineer know about it in those instances so that he can contact the landowner to remove the gate or get the Sheriff’s Office involved.
Johnson emphatically stated that no one can block a public road. He further said that the county can be sued if it knows someone is illegally blocking a public road.
After much discussion and having Johnson review the information and processes in detail, there were no questions from the commission.
Commissioner John Forbus, whose district the road in question is in, said that people in four wheel drives and side-by-sides are continuously tearing up the road. He said he “did his homework” and checked it out, adding that the landowners are willing to follow the proper process to have the road closed or vacated themselves.
After discussion and review, the commission unanimously approved tabling the matter, with no date set for when it may come back before the commission.
In other business, with Commissioner Brandon Davis absent from the meeting, the commission unanimously approved:
- For Chair Bertha K. McElrath to sign the “Back to School” sales tax holiday resolution.
- Awarding Chilton Contractors Inc. the County Road 2 paving project.
- Reallocating $2,000 in line item 104 (uniforms) of the jail budget to purchase a computer for the jail administrator’s office.
- Removing the carpet in the Commission Courtroom of the County Courthouse.
- Section 5311 transportation budget through East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission.
- For Chair McElrath to sign the resolution for Section 5311 Non-urbanized Area Public Transportation.
- The Avenue agreement and signing the Tax Revenue Enhancement Agreement for Lodging.
- Avenue’s Tax Revenue Enhancement Agreement for Revenue Administration.
- Removing and selling the ice machine from the West Coosa Senior Center, with the machine to be sold on GovDeals.
The commission also heard a legislative update from Commissioner Lamar Daugherty and heard a presentation from Janelle Sierra, executive director of SafeHouse of Shelby County, regarding its services and how those have been utilized by Coosa County residents.
She stated that SafeHouse served six clients in Coosa County last year, including five domestic violence and one sexual assault. She mentioned that SafeHouse provided more than 50 services for those six clients.
The commission also heard from EMS Director Hollie Osbourn who stated that the county ambulance is stocked and ready to go, but that they still had requirements to meet, such as having personnel and the room ready for personnel to stay.
She added that she is working to staff the ambulance with six part-time employees initially, but said that her big hurdle is trying to get personnel. She added that they need more than just drivers and asked that anyone interested in a paramedic, basic, or advanced basic position contact her to apply.
The goal is to staff the ambulance 24/7 with six part-time employees working 12-hour shifts. Osbourn said that Coosa County is “very competitive” as far as pay goes, but that it is hard to find personnel.
The commission and Osbourn also mentioned that the employees should not be part time long and that they can eventually make the positions full time; however, they said they have to get the service up and going first.
As of May 1 Osbourn said that they have 60 days to staff the ambulance, and if it is not staffed by then the county would have to reapply.
Anyone interested in applying for the driver, paramedic, basic, or advanced basic positions for the county ambulance is asked to contact Osbourn at 256-510-4288 or email email@example.com.
In other staff reports, County Engineer Tad Eason said that the county had 14 to 15 places that had washed out in the recent heavy rainfall, adding that the Highway Department is still working to repair those washed out pipes as of that meeting.
Eason also mentioned that County Road 75 was closed as of that time because of damage to the bridge, adding that the road would be reopened once the bridge can be repaired or replaced.
Otherwise, Eason said the department was currently working on dirt roads and patching as its current projects.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Coosa County Commission will be held at 9 a.m. June 6.