Rhett Circle

Wedowee- At last week's workshop meeting of Randolph County Commission, there were accusations, insults and complaints thrown at commissioners by some frustrated and angry citizens.

During the public comment part of the meeting, Mary Wright of Roanoke addressed the commission concerning the condition of her road, which is southwest of Roanoke City Limits. "I have been here before and before that and before that to complain about my road," Wright said." My road, Rhett Circle, is supposed to be a paved road. That is why I moved there years ago. It's not paved anymore because of asphalt and tar coming up, and there are potholes that you have to dodge, and if you hit them, they will tear your vehicle all to pieces. The road is a disaster and very dangerous."

She went on to say that in past meetings, she was told the road would be fixed. She recalled, "The last commission told me the money was there and was approved to be fixed. Where's the money now? I guess it was just part of the 'good old boy' situation. Someone is going to get hurt, and me and the other taxpayers are going to have to pay in a lawsuit."

She said there needs to be a better check on the money. During her comments, the commissioners sat and listened and didn't speak. She exclaimed, "Why are ya'll being so disrespectful to me and all these other people. You're not saying a word! I'll remember this come next election time!"

Commission Chairman Larry Roberts responded, "I think you are the one being disrespectful to us! We just don't have the money to repair the farm-to-market roads. We have limited funds and only have so much money. We may even have to turn some of these paved roads back into dirt. Clay, Cleburne and Chambers around us are having the same problems ... money." Mrs. Wright said she doesn't care about any other county but Randolph.

Jennifer Huott was with Wright to discuss the same road. She told the commission, "I bought my house and property five years ago to be on a paved road. Five years ago the road was approved to be repaved, and I'm not going to live on a dirt road. Quit playing with the money and fix the road the way it should've been five years ago."

In addition, Huott had a copy of a Leader report from Oct. 12, 2016, which stated the commission approved resurfacing Rhett Circle with tar and gravel when the weather is favorable and has the money.

She said she was nearly in an accident with a truck having to dodge potholes and a school bus travels the road. Again Roberts said the county does not have the money to redo the road.

Knight spoke up again, "The money was there to fix the road, and besides if it had been paved and inspected properly, this wouldn't be happening."

Another visitor at the meeting was Basil Snyder to discuss County Roads 455 and 458 in the Providence community. He began, "I've been here before and I have been nice, but today I'm not going to be very nice. When are you going to do something to my roads? If I had a motor grader, I'd fix my own road. Y'all have lied to me for the last time!"

He told the commission a motor grader was two roads over from where he lives, but he never saw it on his road. Snyder commented, "I tell you what you ought to do is fire Burrell Jones and get somebody in here who knows what they are doing, I have been lied to way too many times."

Snyder can't get in and out when it rains, and there are potholes so big they could swallow a car. He told them, "Fire Jones and use what you pay him to fix the roads in this county since you say you don't have any money. I worked to get Allen (Doyle) and Lovvorn (Terry) out of office, and still nothing has been done. Somebody has even planted a pine tree in one of the ditches."

He said the engineer wouldn't even answer his phone or return a call. Snyder stated, "I'm tired of it."

Commissioner Pam Johnson said the motor graders are working toward that part of the county. "Yes, there was a motor grader in your area but had to go to another part of the county to work an emergency. I promise you they are coming your way."

In other commissioner comments at the workshop, Commissioner Derek Farr said he appreciates what the highway department has done under the plan the new commission put into place. Farr said, "I agree with Mr. Roberts, we may have to run some of our paved roads back into dirt. We just don't have the money to pave or chip-seal every dirt road or every paved road that is in poor condition. The only funds we can use on roads are gas tax money. I do appreciate citizens coming to voice their opinions and invite more to attend out meetings and speak to us about their problems."

Chairman Roberts said the county highway department has to do the majority of the work because big companies don't want small jobs. He explained, "We have 30-year-old roads, and we've got to do something about them, but we don't get the big money like the larger counties, like Jefferson, Mobile and Montgomery."

Commissioner Lorenzo Foster said he knows about the road plans, but the money is just not available. He said, "We just need money to do what needs to be done."

Commissioner Pam Johnson said the commission needs to apply for any and all grants that might be available, especially through the Rebuild Alabama Program. Johnson and Commissioner Chris Brown agreed they are seeing it from both sides now: the citizens and the commission.

Another visitor at the meeting was Betty Angel, a resident of County Road 40 near Jordan's Chapel. She said, "I am asking you for county water on our road. There are nine families on our road, and county water is all around us." Chairman Roberts said he had talked to the county water authority, and they are working to put water down the road.

Sheriff's report

In a report from Chief Deputy Donnie Grant on Monday, he stated there were 67 inmates in the county jail, 58 male and nine female. Grant presented the commissioners with the monthly report for June 2021 and for the first six months of the year. In June, the department responded to 1,622 calls for service. 1,444 were responded to by patrol deputies. This resulted in 151 incident/offense reports being taken. A total of 92 people were arrested, resulting in 165 criminal charges.. 17 of the arrests and 30 of the total charges involved drugs and/or alcohol. In June, deputies served a total of 237 civil papers. For the first six months of the year, the department responded to 9,310 calls for service with 8,634 responded to by patrol deputies. This resulted in 791 incident/offense reports being taken. A total of 454 people were arrested resulting in 923 total criminal charges. Of those, 68 of the 454 that were arrested for drug and/or alcohol charges. Deputies served a total of 1.176 civil papers.

Engineer's report

County engineer Burrell Jones reported rain hampered the majority of roadwork and bush hogging the last couple of weeks. He reported two tractors had been broken down, which limited the number of miles that were cut. He said a new employee was added to the patching crew for a total of two on the crew. Due to the weather, patching and motor grader work were limited. Several signs were replaced that had either been stolen or knocked down.

Jones discussed the Community Development Block Grant and said he feels County Road 1would be a good project for the money. The requirements include low to moderate income and 30 to 40 residents, including subdivisions. The project would be some 6.2 miles. The deadline to apply for the grant is in August. It was decided the engineer and chairman will select the roads for consideration and report back to the entire commission.

In other business, the commission:

  • Heard from the chief financial officer who said the actual money from FEMA for storm cleanup had been approved, but the county has not received the money yet.
  • Removed from the table a decision on using Team SBJ to administer the employees' insurance coverage.
  • Adopted the state guidelines for wine licensing fees with Derek Farr abstaining.
  • Tabled two appointments to Randolph County Economic Development Authority.
  • Tabled a decision on a lease agreement for the CoreLinc building in Roanoke.
  • Scheduled budget hearings for Aug. 16 and 17.

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