WEDOWEE - It's an age-old rivalry on par with Auburn vs. Alabama and Wile E. Coyote vs. the Roadrunner, and it has been renewed right here Randolph County. We're talking about Noisy Restaurant vs. Quiet Neighborhood.
This version of the rivalry was brought to light at Monday's Randolph County Commission meeting when county resident Tim Seigla addressed the commission seeking help regarding weekend noise coming from Bobber's Bar and Grill on Highway 431 just north of Wedowee.
Seigla told the commission he was there representing a small group of homes that back up to the restaurant and are subjected to the bar's loud music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Seigla said he recorded decibel levels when the din was at its peak, and the sound reached as high as 97 decibels. Any sound above 85 decibels is considered potentially harmful.
Seigla said he and his elderly neighbors are unable to sleep in their homes, as the noise typically continues until midnight.
"We have dishes on our wall, and those dishes rattle," Seigla said.
The neighbor group has made pleas with restaurant ownership in an effort to find a solution, but Seigla said those pleas have mostly been rebuffed or ignored.
The group has also reported the noise to the sheriff's department, but the county does not have a specific noise ordinance that sheriff's deputies could enforce.
Sheriff David Cofield, who was at the commission meeting Monday, addressed Seigla's concerns. Cofield suggested Seigla and his neighbors could seek a warrant for disorderly conduct against the restaurant, but that charge may be difficult to substantiate since disorderly conduct must include the element of intentional harm or disruption in order to be in violation of the law.
The county commission does not have the authority to create a noise ordinance, and commissioners informed Seigla the creation of any such ordinance would have to come from the state legislature.
They advised him to seek out the county's state representatives, so that they can pursue the creation of an ordinance in the next legislative session.
Local NAACP president Delvan Houston addressed the commission Monday with a pair of requests.
The first was to ask that sheriff's department vehicles turn on their sirens and lights for eight minutes and 46 seconds on July 22 as a symbolic gesture in honor of George Floyd. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Cofield responded to the request, saying he would have to check with the county attorney to make sure the gesture did not constitute participation in a protest.
Houston also asked that the sheriff's department consider hiring two chaplains, one white and one black, to be available to deputies.
Cofield said he would take that request into consideration and look into making those hires.
County employee benefits
The commission approved a measure Monday that allows all Tier 2 county employees the same retirement benefits as Tier 1 employees.
The change affects the timeframe for the vesting of retirement benefits. Prior to the change, Tier 2 employees could not be eligible for full retirement benefits unless they worked until the age of 62, regardless of when they started their employment with the county.
Tier 1 employees gained access to full benefits after 25 years of employment, regardless of their age.
The change gives all employees hired as Tier 2 the same vesting option as Tier 1, allowing them access to full benefits after 25 years, regardless of age.
The change will create a $12,000 increase in payroll expenses for the county, or less than 1 percent of their overall payroll budget. In the eyes of the commission, the cost was worth the upshot of increased employee morale and the possibility of greater employee retention, as well as a more appealing recruitment case for new employees.
The commission held a brief public hearing regarding the potential closure of County Road 262 near Folsom. Resident Danny Watts spoke in opposition of the closure, and two other residents sent letters of opposition to the commission.
The commission tabled the decision on the road closure, as the road is in commissioner Larry Roberts' district and Roberts was not present at Monday's meeting.
In a series of decisions related to the ongoing construction of the new county jail, the commission:
- Approved the purchase of a new passenger van that will be used for the transport of inmates. The purchase cost of the van is $44,478, and that cost will be covered by the jail tax.
- Authorized Bailey-Harris Construction to receive the original six keys and the additional six keys to the new jail, all of which will be turned over to the sheriff upon completion of the building's construction.
- Authorized Commission Chairman Terry Lovvorn and county CFO Travis Heard to contract with CPA firm Carr, Riggs and Ingram to complete financial statements for fiscal years 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. This is a necessary step before the county can issue bonds to cover costs for the new jail.
- Approved a change order that reduces the construction cost of the jail by $7,669 without a change to the construction timeframe.
- Tabled a decision on a second change order that would add 56 days to the final completion date of the jail construction, pushing that date into October. The additional days are being requested by Bailey-Harris Construction to account for delays due to weather and COVID-19. The commission agreed that more information on the details of the change would be needed before they could make a final decision.