WEDOWEE - At Thursdays' workshop meeting of Randolph County Commission, three county citizens came before the commission with complaints.
First to speak was Basil Snyder. "I've just got one question ... Are you county commissioners or road commissioners? I live on County Road 458, and there are 29 houses on this road, and it is never worked. Then you got County Road 455 and it's in worse shape." (These roads are around the Providence community.)
Snyder questioned why some roads are in great condition and some are not. "Look at County Road 110 over there - It's gravel and I mean gravel all the way. My question is do I need to vote for you or Mr. Jones? Who is over the work?"
Commission Chairman Doyle Allen answered, "We know what you're talking about concerning the roads, and to answer your question, we are COUNTY commissioners. By state law, we have no control over the road department, and we work under the unit system as voted by the people years ago. All work must go through the engineer."
Commissioner Terry Lovvorn said he is not a road commissioner. "I know the shape of these roads, and I would like for the engineer to look at them and make any repairs needed."
Next to address the commission was Willie and Deborah Tidwell, residents of County Road 79 near Roanoke. "I am coming to you with a concern that is of importance to all residents on my road. There are small children that play in their yards, and if something isn't done about speeding, passing and reckless driving, someone is going to get hit, hurt or killed."
Mrs. Tidwell went on to say the sheriff's department needs to have radar units in their cars. Sheriff David Cofield said he has only two radar units, and they are out of service. He said each unit would cost between $3,500 and $5,000, and deputies would have to be trained.
Allen wanted it noted the sheriff had not requested any new radar units, and for the record since there was no request, there was not anything that had been denied.
New patrol vehicles
At the workshop meeting, there was a lengthy discussion concerning the purchase of new patrol vehicles for the sheriff's department.
In April of this year, the commission agreed to purchase six 2019 Dodge Durangos. Since several months had passed, it was noted the 2020 models could be purchased at the same price, approximately $29,000 per vehicle. In addition, it would take $6,000 to equip each vehicle (total of $36,000).
"I just don't have the money in my budget to equip the vehicles because I have had to purchase bulletproof vests and body cameras," said Cofield. " If y'all could help me out, it wouldn't deplete my budget."
Commissioner Derek Farr asked about a different manufacturer and if the sheriff could do with just five. "I really need six because some of my vehicles have well over 100,000 miles on them. There is a liability issue for me and the county." Farr asked if the county equipped three, could the sheriff's department equip three? Cofield said it might be possible.
At Monday's meeting, the commission agreed to purchase six vehicles, equip each one and finance for four years. Farr stated that he would go along with the purchase as long as no other vehicles would be purchased until these are paid off.
"I'm not buying a whole new fleet, I will still have some older vehicles," Cofield said.
Allen added if the commission comes up with some extra revenue later on, the vehicles could be paid off sooner.
Barry Smith of the Solid Waste Authority told the commission at the workshop meeting that a company, Matter Management, is interested in leasing the transfer station for five years.
"We've got to do something ... Our equipment is tearing up, and our expenses are way more than our income. Right now we are approximately $18,000 in debt."
If the lease is approved after the commission takes a look at it, there would be a number of upgrades. Smith went on to say the matter is time sensitive. Allen said the commission would look at the lease agreement and have it on the agenda for the next meeting.
Road repairs and resurfacing
Count engineer Burrell Jones told the commission the chipseal projects that were scheduled are going to have to wait. "We have run out of time, and the weather is going to cause us some problems if we don't put this off."
After some discussion, the commission agreed to cancel the current contracts for the work and rebid and award new contracts next year.
Jones told the commission preliminary work on County Road 87 is continuing. "Some drainage structure needs repairing before work can continue."
Allen said the state did a traffic count on the road, and additional funding might be available for the project.
New fiber optics for internet
Joe Barnett of Spectrum addressed the commission at the workshop meeting about a new fiber optic internet and data system. The commission agreed to ask for bids for the installation of fiber optic internet for all county facilities including the new jail and new offices on Woodland Avenue. The new system would provide upgraded internet and data service and most important updated security on the system. The plan would include service and maintenance. County Administrator Lisa Holmes stated that any project over $50,000 would have to be bid.
Woodland Avenue offices
For the past several months, renovations have been going on at the former doctor's offices on Woodland Avenue. Allen stated it is just too much for the engineer to handle that work and the highway department. It was decided to get a private contractor to finish the work. Allen stated the engineer's office, the sheriff's department and investigators would move to those buildings. The board of registrars would move to the courthouse, and the commission office would expand into the neighboring building. Allen emphasized all the work being done was being paid for by capital improvement funds through the state.
At Thursday's workshop, Allen said he wanted to straighten out what was written in the newspaper about a resident not being allowed to speak at the last regular meeting. "This commission has never and will never keep any resident of this county from speaking before the commission. We have rules that we have always gone by, and those who wish to speak must go through a process." Allen said anyone wishing to speak must call the commission office by 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday before the upcoming meeting. "That is our policy and residents must follow it. We will never discriminate against anyone who wishes to speak. I hope I have made that perfectly clear."
In other business, the commission:
- Agreed to seek an Attorney General's opinion on indigent care for county citizens and jail inmates at the hospital to make sure county residents are not overpaying and being double taxed.
- Discussed private right-of-way contractors tearing up County Road 869 near Broughton.
- Adopted a resolution to enter into a termination of a project agreement, which was made effective on Oct. 2, 2017, with JCG Farms of Georgia doing business as Koch Farms of Pine Mountain, Ga., Randolph County, the City of Roanoke and the Randolph County Economic Development Authority. The property will revert back since the company will no longer be building on the property.
- Heard a report from Cofield that as of Monday, there were 74 inmates in the county jail, 61 male and 13 female. Cofield said construction of the new jail is continuing, and June 2020 is the target date for completion but it might take a little longer.
- Approved a $1,000 donation to the American Legion, noting this was an amendment to the budget, and a request should be made next year during budget hearings. The commission did commend the group for all the work they do in the county. Commissioner Lathonia Wright voted no.
- Approved a $1,000 donation to the Cheaha Library to assist in purchasing a new bookmobile, noting this was an amendment to the budget and a request should be made next year during budget hearings. Wright voted no.
- On the county attorney's advice, denied a claim submitted by Dale McDowell.
- Approved a job description and salary rate for a shop manager at the county shop. This is a newly created position and the pay range will be $15 to $17, depending on experience.
- Tabled closing a portion of County Road 431 at Smyrna due to Commissioner Larry Roberts being absent from the meeting.
- Removed discussion of the drug court grant from the table, but took no action.
- Discussed closing a portion of County Road 255 in the Morrison's Crossroads area. Roger Bolin, a resident on the road, had made the request due to trespassers, dumping and theft on the property he owns on the road.