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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
During a lengthy meeting January 9, the County Commission heard a citizen’s concerns with road conditions and the county engineer’s contract and approved numerous agenda items.
The commissioners heard from Pete Rodgers regarding roads in districts 4 and 5. Specifically, he raised concerns about road conditions on County roads 55, 56, 27, and Cedar Circle Lane, with the first two being in District 5 and the last two in District 4.
Following discussion about concerns with those road conditions, Rodgers also brought up the county engineer’s contract, salary and time off.
During that discussion it was explained that the county does not set the salary for Engineer Tad Eason. Instead, the state sets his salary, as well as the salary of Chad Rankin, engineer assistant.
In addition to the state setting their salaries, it also pays for 70% of Eason’s salary and 50% of Rankin’s salary. Regarding the time off, it was also stated that, like other county employees, Eason earns two days off per month.
Regarding other discussion items, Ricky Porch and Janice Kilgore, district administrative coordinator for the Coosa County Conservation District, presented the commission with information regarding the Coosa County Soil and Water Conservation District. They provided the commission with an overview of information about the organization, gave an annual report, provided handouts to the commission, presented additional information, and gave the commission “save the date” material for the Clear Water Alabama Seminar and Field Day being held September 25-26 in Dothan.
Also in discussion items, the commission heard from District 1 County Commissioner John Forbus regarding the possibility of installing GPS tracking and cameras in all county vehicles and equipment.
This would include all of the Sheriff’s Office vehicles, the Coosa County EMS ambulance, Revenue Office vehicle, and all other county vehicles. In discussion, Commissioner Lamar Daugherty asked Forbus to get pricing quotes to that end, and Forbus said that he would.
While the meeting lasted approximately three hours, it was straightforward regarding motions and approvals for many of the standard agenda items, following discussions.
With all commissioners present, the commission unanimously approved a quote from Sylacauga Glass to enclose the security area at the courthouse with a door and one-way reflective glass using capital improvement funds. The total quote was for $5,184, which included $1,000 for labor and $4,184 for the glass, door and frame.
The commission also unanimously approved for Chair Bertha K. McElrath to sign the contract for the digitization of documents with corrections, per attorney John K. Johnson.
Regarding roads, the commission also unanimously approved lowering the speed limit on Wilson Lane in District 5 to a maximum of 15 miles per hour.
Sheriff Michael Howell also presented the commission with information regarding increasing the hazardous duty pay for deputies. Act 2018-38 relating to Coosa County provides an additional fee for the service of failure to appear, or FTA, warrants by the county sheriff, with there being an added $100 charge on the service of all FTA warrants executed by the deputies or sheriff in Coosa County.
The revenues from that fee are distributed with $25 of the fee going to the Sheriff’s Office law enforcement fund to be used “for law enforcement purposes,” $25 to the circuit court clerk and $50 to the county’s general fund to be used to “provide funding for the operation of the office of the Coosa County sheriff, including providing hazardous duty pay for deputies.”
Deputies had been getting $100 for hazardous duty pay, but during the January meeting the commission unanimously approved increasing that to $200 for day-shift deputies and $300 for those working night shift. The hazardous duty pay is only for those working full time who are APOST certified.
In other business, the commission also unanimously approved:
- Participating in the 2024 Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday, to be held February 23-25.
- Purchasing a brush guard for the county ambulance.
- The renewal quote for Esri, which is the GIS mapping system, as presented by Revenue Commissioner Debra Lamberth.
The commission also unanimously approved following the state holiday schedule for 2024, as well as any additional days set forth by the governor or commission.
This year the commission chose to use its “floating holiday” for March 29 to allow its employees to be off for Good Friday. The county’s adopted holiday calendar also includes November 29 for the day following Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve on December 24, along with the remainder of the state holiday calendar.
Those dates will have the county offices closed on February 19, March 29, April 22, May 27, June 3, June 19, July 4, September 2, October 14, November 11, November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1, 2025.
The commission also dismissed into executive session for approximately 30 minutes to discuss the good name and character of two county employees.
No action was taken on the matter following the return to regular session. However, the commission recessed its January 9 meeting and set a date to reconvene last Wednesday, January 24, at 4:30 p.m. to hold a fairness hearing that may include disciplinary action up to and including termination of two county employees.
That was a closed hearing as it was an extension of the executive session matter and discussion. The outcome of that hearing was that the two employees were put on 90-day probation status.
Following the adjournment of that meeting, the next regularly scheduled meeting of the County Commission will be held at 9 a.m. February 13.