WEDOWEE - "I am personally putting the county highway department on notice."
Those were the harsh words from District 3 Commissioner Doyle Allen at Monday's Randolph County Commission meeting. Allen's words came as each commissioner was given their chance to speak on business. Speaking directly to County Engineer Burrel Jones, Allen said, "I have never in my life seen roadsides in worse shape than ours, and I have even had some people from out of the county and state call me about the problem.
"We have grass and weeds growing all over the sides of the road, some are higher than not just a car, but some higher than a truck. We have weeds growing so high they are covering signs. Don't you know if someone has an accident because of signs being covered, the county is liable?" asked Allen.
After listening quietly, Jones asked if he could hire some day laborers to help with the bush hogging. The commission approved to hire two for six weeks, and the maintenance of the side of the roads will be done five days a week.
Allen then brought up the subject of dirt roads being worked. "We have a real issue with working our dirt roads. There are some roads that have not been worked in over a year, and I think the citizens of this county deserve for their dirt roads to be worked at least once a year."
Allen said something has to be figured out - how to do it and when to do it. He said, "Mr. Engineer, we are under the unit system, and it is your responsibility to get it done, whatever it takes. The people voted for the unit system, and that's the way we are going to work." Jones replied that two motor graders had been broken down, and one operator had been out for medical reasons.
"What happened to those new ones we ordered back in June, where are they?" Allen asked. "I haven't heard anything from them or about them but I will check," Jones said.
Allen closed his comments by saying, "I am on my way out the door, but for at least the next couple of weeks, I want to see some work done. Our citizens deserve it, and when I come out of office, I will be a regular citizen, and I will deserve it."
Animal shelter update
Chuck Smith addressed the commission on the status of Randolph County Animal Shelter. He said the shelter had just adopted their 7,000th animal.
"We started this project 22 years ago, and we've been in business now for 11 years," Smith said. "We have had to make some changes due to the COVID outbreak, but things are still going well. Adoptions right now are done by appointment only. Pets can be viewed on Facebook, and you can make an appointment to see them in person."
Smith went on to say the shelter has always been in good financial condition but is facing some major purchases, such as 23 new kennels, and mice have infested the roof. He said, "Those are going to cost us around $830 each, and we're not sure about the roof. The shelter is 54 percent funded by the public, and we do what we can with what we have."
Smith added the shelter typically keeps about 40 to 60 animals and works with rescues to help with adoption. He said, "I am asking you gentlemen to increase the monthly amount paid each month by the commission. Our finances are good and our audits have always been good. I humbly ask for this increase." The commission agreed to look at a possible increase when planning the budget.
New jail furnishings and landscaping
After a presentation by representatives of JMR+H Architecture, the commission approved a purchase price of $23,671 for furnishings for the new jail. The price comes from the state bid list and includes delivery and setup. It was noted Sheriff David Cofield had found some old furnishings to put in the jail that reduced the cost. The commission approved a purchase price of $32,973 for high-density filing and storage boxes. Lastly, the commission approved a price of $48,123 for landscaping around the new jail. Sheriff Cofield said trustees would be responsible for watering the plants and grass, saving the county $12,000.
Sheriff Cofield reported there were 62 inmates in the county jail, 53 male and nine female. The sheriff made a request to the commission for approval to purchase a tractor, bush hog and bucket to keep the grounds up around the new jail. After some discussion, the commission approved a state bid of $37,648.
In other business, the commission:
- Approved the CIMS System license agreement and authorized the engineer to execute the agreement.
- Tabled scheduling a hearing to close a portion of County Road 256 in Commissioner Robert's district, which is the subject of a petition.
- Tabled a discussion on adding health insurance coverage for retiring county employees at no cost to the county.
- Rescheduled the Oct. 12 meeting to Oct. 6 due to the Columbus Day holiday.
- Rescheduled the Oct. 26 meeting to Oct. 22 due to the chief administrative officer and chief financial officer attending a conference.
- Approved having a workshop meeting Sept. 24 with the focus being the 2020-2021 budget.
- Approved imposing a reduction in force by one employee in courthouse grounds and maintenance budget due to lack of funding through the CARES Act relating to COVID-19.
- Approved bidding a contract for professional cleaning of the courthouse and annexes to mitigate COVID-19 germ exposure per the CARES Act.
- Approved for absentee voters to use the back entrance of the courthouse with all precautions and screening in place.
The commission asks every resident to fill out the 2020 census.
The new Randolph County Jail open house is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9, at 1 p.m.
The courthouse will be closed Monday, Oct. 12, for Columbus Day.