WEDOWEE - At Monday's meeting of Randolph County Commission, a resolution was adopted changing some items in the COVID-19 guidelines passed in July 2020.
According to county financial officer Travis Heard, different resolutions were passed last year and the new one combines the others into one. "There are not that many changes, but we found some items we needed to change to make it safer for all citizens who have business at the courthouse, the annex and the highway department. It will protect employees as well." Some of the changes from the prior resolution and important items from the former resolutions include:
- Employees and citizens entering county buildings with a temperature of 99 degrees or higher will not be granted access. (Changed)
- Screening questions must be answered verbally, such as have you been asked to quarantine and have you been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID? (Changed)
- Only the person conducting business will be allowed to enter.
- Facemasks are urged.
- Social distancing signs must be followed.
- Only two people will be allowed to wait in the lobby and at the counters at the Revenue Commissioner's Office and the Probate Judge's office.
- Persons with business with the Circuit Clerk or court system must use the rear entrance.
- All employees must adhere to the same temperature and screening guideline as the public.
- The new resolution will expire on March 31.
District Judge concerns
Randolph County District Judge Amy Newsome address the commission on Monday's meeting to discuss four items. First, the judge said the county has been selected for a reading initiative for fourth-grade students with a grant available up to $20,000. "The number of children this age that cannot read up to the standard is distressing to me," the judge said. "Alabama is ranked 49 out of the 50 states on reading, and we hope to get the grant to improve reading skills."
Second, the judge stated the drug court has received a grant of $15,000. She said, "It is really difficult to administer this program with COVID concern,s and the number of drug cases has decreased."
Third, the judge stated remodeling is almost complete in the courtroom. "If you haven't seen it, you will be impressed. We were able to use $30,000 in CARES COVID money for the work," she said.
Lastly, the judge expressed concern over the lack of cleaning and disinfecting at the courthouse. "Our maintenance man is stretched so far in so many places that he can't handle everything. What happened to the two ladies that were hired to clean and disinfect?" The judges went on to say the health and safety of all citizens, especially senior citizens and children, is of the greatest importance. "I am having some virtual hearings, but every case cannot be handled that way."
Commission Chairman Larry Roberts stated he is checking with the state about additional CARES funds and hopefully someone can be hired to clean and disinfect.
Sheriff David Cofield addressed the commission on the number of calls and arrests his department handled during 2020. Deputies answered 17,712 calls, had 727 arrests (148 drug related), 1,318 charges with 239 being drug related. As of Monday, there were 58 inmates in the county jail, 48 male and 10 female. The sheriff said work is continuing on the computer system at the new jail and hopefully inmates could be moved there soon.
Community corrections report
Community Corrections director Becky Cooper addressed the commission at the workshop meeting on Thursday. She said the program has been paying for itself with no cost to the county, but 2020 with COVID was a tough year. Currently there are 25 total participants, 14 people reporting weekly, with one being low risk. There are five in treatment and five in jail. There were 18 new inmates enrolled in 2020; 14 completed the program successfully and 11 were terminated from the program.
"We are working to rebuild the program with COVID restrictions but it's been really tough," Cooper said. "Right now we are holding our own, and we appreciate the support you give us."
In other business, the commission:
- Heard a presentation from Bryant Whaley of the economic development authority on high-speed broadband internet coming to the county.
- Adopted a resolution congratulating the Handley Tiger football team for winning the 4A state championship.
- Approved closing a portion of County Road 256 in the Swagg community.
- Approved the appointment of Michael Meeks to the Solid Waste Authority board.
- Approved for Donnie Knight to continue serving as the county safety coordinator.