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Southern Union president addresses county commission

WEDOWEE – At Monday’s meeting of Randolph County Commission, Southern Union State Community College President Todd Shackett was the guest speaker.

Shacket had been invited to speak at the meeting by Commissioner Pam Johnson. The president said he has been at Southern Union for four years and has seen huge growth at the school. One of newest programs is providing additional activities for the students at the Wadley Campus.

“We want our students to have things to do on campus since Wadley is such a small town. We have opened up the student center and the pool, along with other facilities,” explained Shackett.

He went on to say enrollment is up 10 percent this year but is not at the 2019 level. Shacket said, “In 2019 we had tremendous growth and COVID hit. We are trying to get the enrollment back to pre-COVID level.”

The nursing program is up 50 percent, and nursing students now have a good place to do clinicals.

“We’re making progress in all areas, such as sports, where we have added golf, soccer and cross country, and the addition of new social clubs,” said Shackett.

The president said a goal was set to raise $1 million in 2022 for scholarships, and 87 percent has already been raised with two months remaining in the year.

A new addition for students to attend Auburn University is the Path to the Plains. He explained, “Most of our students have plans to attend Auburn, but the application numbers are so high that some students do not have a chance. With our program, students are dual enrolled with two days a week in Wadley and two days at Auburn. We call it a pathway to opportunity.”

Shackett closed by telling commissioners the college wants to be involved in and with the community. He closed,”I want to thank you for your support and the support of the community.”

Commissioners’ reports

Commissioner Pam Johnson expressed her appreciation to residents on County Roads 17 and 30, community leaders and businesses for their support and help in obtaining a grant. “We had so many people write letters of support required for the grant, and I just want to thank you all for what you did to help secure the grant.” Work should begin on both roads next year.

Commission Chairman Derek Farr questioned the County Administrator Lisa Herren about rent for the annex next door to the commission office. She said nothing had been determined but had been told the rent for the various offices would be determined by the square footage.

Farr said a walk-through of the courthouse needs to be done. “He said, We have several offices that are being used without our authorization. Any time an office is occupied, it needs to come before the commission for approval.”

Engineer’s report

In a report from the highway department from Oct. 9 through Oct. 22, crews mowed 70 miles of roadway shoulders and scraped 30.15 miles. Currently, the department has 26 employees and four office staff.

In other business, the commission:

  • Heard from Sheriff David Cofield there were 73 inmates in Randolph County Jail.
  • Approved for the chairman and representatives of Randolph County Fire Association and Rescue Squad to begin the process of surveying seven acres near the county jail for the purpose of a fire training facility and rescue squad building. With the transfer of the property, in the event the fire association and/or rescue squad ceases to use the land, it will be returned to the county commission.
  • Adopted a resolution honoring Southern Union State Community College on its 100th anniversary.
  • Adopted a resolution supporting amendments 1, 2 and 7 on the November ballot and encouraged all citizens to vote yes.
  • Approved a request from Randolph County E-911 to be allowed to pay for drug screening services for new employees.
  • Announced the courthouse and annexes would be closed Friday, Nov. 11, for Veteran’s Day.
  • Cancelled the Nov. 24 workshop due to it falling on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Awarded the annual bid for concrete to Webb Concrete of Oxford.
  • Awarded the annual bid for timber bridge decking to Stringfellow of Birmingham.
  • Awarded the annual bid for corrugated metal pipe to Harvey Culvert in Cleveland, Ala.
  • Approved rejecting the bids for granite, quartzite and limestone and asking for new bids.

Southern Union administration building

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