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This section is Part 2 of the Archives.  Part 1 are the archived stories from the beginning.  The amount of content in Archives Part 1 makes it very slow to load.  Hope you continue to enjoy Conecuh County News and Views, LLC.

Board of Education Meeting 1 Dec 2014
     Call to order at 12 by Chairman Boykin.  Roll call showed all members present.  Invocation given by Reverend Jimmy Taylor followed by unanimous approval of the agenda.
Item one:  Recommendation for Principal at Repton.    
     Superintendent Brogden announced there had been 10 applicants for the position, 9 showed up for interviews and the interviewing board had a recommendation.  When pushed to announce the name, Mr. Brogden stated he did not want to make the name public until the board had voted to accept the recommendation and the selected person had been told of the position being available.
     It was decided to table this information until discussion in executive session could be held.
Item two:  Approve $500.00 stipend for employees meeting following stipulations:
     Must be a full time active employee and have worked 60 days since the beginning of the school year and were employed as of Dec. 19, 2014.
     Discussion sowed it would be a cost of $140,000.00, it would be a onetime payment.
     Motion to approve by Mr. Lee, seconded by Ms.Wallace.  Passed unanimously. 
Item three:  Ms. Young has follow up from previous board meeting.
     Ms. Young is the special education teacher who has been taking care of being the testing coordinator and has been performing this job without pay.
     Ms. Young came before the board and informed them she would be unable to continue the testing coordinator position without compensation.  She stated, by her figures, she was due $1,872.67 pay for time and effort invested since August- 24 November.
     After discussion the board asked to table action until the next meeting.
Item one revisited:
     Motion for executive session was approved.
     Upon return and resuming regular session the board voted 4-1 to accept the recommendation for principal.  Ms. Wallace voted in the negative.
     The name will be released after the person has been notified and accepted the position.
Motion to adjourn approved 12:40 PM

Checked later in the day and congratulations to Coach Dukes on his selection to follow Mr. John Brown as principal of Repton.  

Commission Meeting 24 November 2014

     Call to order at 5 PM by Chairman McCreary.  Prayer by Commissioner Hildreth followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
     The agenda and previous minutes were approved by unanimous vote.
Pay roll/personnel report:  
     1 new hire at animal shelter for part time temporary position.
     2 new hires at the jail.
     4 separations from jail.
     106.25 hours of overtime spread between the commission, probate, jail and animal shelter.
All actions were approved.
Approval of claims:  
     There were not submitted claims over the limit in either gasoline or general fund.
     At the previous meeting invoices submitted from an unauthorized account set up by the animal shelter had been submitted.  These invoices were tabled at that meeting but were brought forward again.  A total amount of $214.28 payable to Evergreen Veterinary for rescue actions was approved.  
     This account was to be closed at the completion of this action.
EMA Johnny Brock:
     Not in attendance.
County Engineers Reprot:
     Nothing on the engineers calendar.
County Administrators Report:
     Ms. Covan addressed the severe weather tax holiday currently scheduled for 20-22 February 2015.  A resolution will be needed to approve.  Passed unanimously.
     During break time between work session and regular meeting Attorney Bishop made the updated recommended changes to the Animal Shelter Operation Manual.  Motion to accept by Andrews; seconded by Cook passed.
     Ms. Covan stated she had received an invitation from Mr. Jim Allen, Monthly View publisher, offering the commission an opportunity to place a Christmas ad in his paper.  Commissioner Cook asked if this was appropriate.  After response Hildreth brought a motion to do so seconded by Millender.
     Ms. Covan advised the commission they needed to approve a resolution dealing with the changes in bond issues.  Passed.
     Ms. Covan addressed the Employee Handbook discussed during the work session.  Motion to approve passed unanimously.
     An invoice from Motorola in the amount of $7,018.00 as the first installment in the county’s matching funds agreement for the new, upgraded radios.  There will be a total of 5 invoices before all payments are made.  These should come in prior to 30 April 2015.
Attorney’s Remarks:
     The Franklin Primary Health Care building lease agreement has come down to what everyone hopes will be a final agreement.  Franklin will take over the old Tri-County Administration Building under a lease of 5 years with option to renew for additional 5 years.  This lease contains 3 options of renewal.  
     The Franklin Corporation will pay $1.00 per year for the lease and assume all repair/upkeep to the building.  Any major repairs/changes must come through the commission prior to incorporation.  (Thank goodness the foot dragging seems to be coming to a close).
     The situation with the school property and the formation of the Cultural Center still exist.  There are 3 parcels of property involved and no one knows exactly who’s is whose.  Mr. Bishop asked for permission to get a survey.  Commissioner Cook asked if the Board of Education could pay ½ of the survey fee.  The survey fee was approved, contact will be made with the B. O. E.
Chairman remarks:
Media Comment:
     I asked what the current standing was between the city and county on E911.  The city had issued notice they were withdrawing.  Mr. Bishop stated he had sent a letter advising them of the existing contract dealing with E911 but there has been no response to date.
     5:44 PM

Commission Work Session 24 Nov. 2014

     Call to order by Chairman McCreary at 3 PM.
     Two items of primary interest to discuss:
(1)  Animal Shelter Manual;
(2)  Employee Handbook:
     There were several items for discussion on the Animal Shelter Handbook.  Final determinations to be incorporated were; rescue animals shall not become a financial burden to the county.  No more money will be spent on a rescue animal than that of a regular shelter animal up for adoption.
     As I understand this measure, it will stop additional medical bills for sending these animals to other areas.  It will also stop the overtime claimed for the transportation of these animals.  Any and all transportation cost will be borne by the rescue group taking the animals where ever they need to be taken to go on to other areas.
     Chief Impounding Officer and Commissioner Andrews said they had been contacted by a brand new local group ready to assume the responsibility of getting the animals out.
     The use of volunteers was also discussed.  It was determined that a volunteer must sign a waiver against claims in the event of injury.
     It was re-emphasized that any funds taken in at the animal shelter in the form of donations would be the property of the county and shall be turned into the commission office for incorporation into the general fund.
     It was determined no animals will be allowed to roam freely in any of the open areas of the shelter.
     Induction fees will be reviewed and modified as deemed necessary.
     Discussion on the Animal Shelter Manual was completed at 3:55 PM..
     The newly devised Employee Handbook and some changes to it were next.  
     Ms. Covan said Ms. Kidd of Webb & Ely law firm had been very helpful with the new regulations and had made several recommendations.
     The bereavement policy was discussed to establish what relationship a person must be for a county worker to receive paid time off for bereavement.  General consensus; Grandparent, Parent, Spouse, Child, Grandchild.  In-laws will receive equal stature too.
     The factor of a dress code was discussed but recommendations that it not be adopted were heeded.  Each department head/supervisor should be able to hand this situation.
     Discussion on the Employee Handbook continued until 4:38 PM.
Work Session adjourned 4:38 PM

Commission Meeting 10 November 2014

Called to order:
     at 9 AM by Chairman McCreary.  Prayer led by Commissioner Hildreth followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Roll call:
     revealed all members present.  The agenda and previous minutes were approved unanimously.

Payroll/personnel report:
     showed no changes however there were 66 hours of overtime to be approved.

Claims approval:
Gasoline Fund:
     no claims requiring approval.
General Fund:  
     Several issues arose from invoices submitted under the general fund dealing with the Animal Shelter and the creating of a new account that had not received any approval from the commission body.  
     Normal operating expense invoices for the shelter were submitted under one account but several other invoices were entered under an account none of the commissioners would admit they knew about.
     Commissioner Millender was the first to point this out and raise the question as to what’s going on.  Ms. Covan, County Administrator, stated she had intended to explain that during her report.
     Commissioner Millender asked what was to be reported.  During a September meeting Chief Impounding Officer and shelter supervisor, Sid Lambert had been told any changes or alterations in operating scheduling or billing must be routed through the commission for approval before instituting.
     Commissioner Millender stated Anthony Bishop, County Attorney, had been present at the meeting in September when these items were discussed.  He asked any further discussion be held until the attorney arrived and they could go into executive session.

Animal Shelter:  
     Current operations at the Animal Shelter are hampered due to Chief Impounding Officer Lambert needing time off to recover from an operation.  
     Commissioner Andrews stated that Jonathan Hicks needed help at the shelter until Mr. Lambert was available to resume duties.  Commissioner Andrews made a motion to do a part time emergency hire.  Commissioner Millender seconded the motion but with the stipulation applications being held from previous shelter job offerings be reviewed and the hiring come from within that group.  To try and advertise would take too much time and the help is needed now.
     The half-way done job of fencing that has been hanging on since last March or so was addressed by Commissioner David Cook.  Mr. Cook stated the job needed to be completed because the Animal Shelter has grown to be an eyesore in its current state of disarray.
     Commissioner Millender directed that for simplicity sake accept three quotes and authorize the Chairman and Ms. Covan to accept the lowest bid.  
     Commissioner Andrews then made a motion bid offers be accepted for both the incomplete job at the Animal Shelter as well as the approved fencing project at DHR.  Unanimously approved.

EMA Report:
     Johnny Brock, EMA Director informed the commission he was in receipt 2 grant checks for a total of $1855.00.
     Mr. Brock also told the commissioners he wanted them to observe a mass communication plan and notification system, all this is part of his Emergency Evacuation Plan.  A planned demonstration is scheduled for 3 PM before the next commission meeting, 24 November 2014.
     Mr. Brock brought up the ACCA return to work policy if you are hurt on the job.  This policy allows a person to return to work on light duty.  If a worker refuses the light duty assignment they can be terminated.  No action taken on this, will be a topic for discussion at the next meeting.
     Cara Stallman had discussed previously about taking the commissioners on a tour of safe houses in place in other cities.  A tentative date of 21 November has been set for a trip to 3 different .cities.
     Commissioner Hildreth asked Mr. Brock to find out what the cost would be to get some employees certified to teach CPR, along with the cost of the equipment.

Motion to go into executive session to complete discussion on claims:
     Chief Impounding Officer Lambert was asked to stay for the executive session.
Return from executive session:

County Engineers Report:
     County Engineer Foshee reported on the Brooklyn water project.  He stated they were going to attach the water line to the bridge to cross the river.  To bore would be too expensive.
     There is some concern as to whether this plan will work or not.  If this plan will of routing the line attached to the bridge will not work out ADECA will authorize a change to the grant and allow water to be routed from the Covington County side.
     This project has a $420,000.00 budget and will service approximately 25 houses.  The water meter and line to the residents will be completed as a part of this project.  Upon completion everything will be turned over to the Owassa Brownville Water Authority for maintenance and charges.
County Administrator Report:
     Ms. Covan advised the commission they needed to do an engagement letter to establish their bond rating.  The rating fee will be $10,850.00.  Passed unanimously.
     The commission agreed to pay for an ad with the NAACP, cost $100.00.  Commissioner Millender asked If a request for a copy of this ad to be sent to the commission was possible.  He felt it unfair for them to pay for the ad and then have to purchase a copy.
     Doctor Gerald Roberts prepared a dress code for the medical personnel assigned to the jail department.  He has submitted this for approval.  Approved unanimously.
     Ms. Covan addressed the roof situation at DHR.  She stated they have the specs needed.  A request for bids will be sent out.  Bids will be opened at the first meeting in December.  A review of the specs will be conducted by Mr. Harper, Maintenance Man, Ms. Covan and the Chairman, they will make one more review to ensure they have everything needed.
     A discussion on the county handbook and the verbiage used therein was next on the agenda.  It was suggested this be an item set for the next work session.  Approved
     It was noted the next work session was going to be a long session and the meeting with Mr. Brock, EMA Director, originally scheduled to take place at 3 PM was changed to 2 PM to allow ample time to cover other items scheduled for the work session.
     Ms. Covan announced some question had arose about the funds from the county going to the Public Library.  She noted the commission approved $50,000.00 in the budget for the library and it was paid on a monthly basis.
     Johnny Andrews noted we are moving into deer season and suggested the commission pass an ordinance putting an additional fine against those dumping carcass’s illegally.  After some discussion citizen Michael Riley offered the suggestion the county establish some dump sites open to the public that would accept these carcass’s.  Mr. Riley said this was a practice used in other counties.

Attorney’s Report:
     County Attorney Anthony Bishop reported on the old city school property, proposed site for the cultural center.  He noted there were actually 3 separate pieces to the property granted.  One portion was granted in 1919 and had no restrictions attached.  The other 2 pieces had restriction attached to them.
     He suggested that a survey be done to establish which and where each section was.  He also noted that surviving family ;members could be contacted in an effort to lift or remove the restrictions.
     Long story short, more work needs to be done prior to any approval to the cultural center being  accomplished.

Chairman had no comments:

Motion to adjourn approved unanimously

Conecuh County Election Results 2014


     I can tell by looking at my "I visited here" counter on my website that lots of folks are coming to it and I suspect they are there to see what I might have to say about the "Trial of the Century" so.....

     Let me say this first and foremost, all of those folks who came out to support me whether it be by your presence in the courtroom or holding a sign outside or just in the phone calls, handshakes and well wishes along the way, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

     To say the outcome was a surprise would be a complete understatement so I'm taking an evaluative look as to my next step and I've been and will be a little wrapped up in planning for the next few days at least.

     When you go to a concert and it's a popular performer you don't leave until the last song is sung.  As in keeping with the old saying it ain't over till the fat lady sings, in this particular case I believe she has at least 2 verses to her song so lets just look at it as if she's finished the first verse.

     I will not get into any strategy or plans of action on here because there's certain detractors to letting those against you know what you're going to do.

     Let this much be said, I have no intention to run and hide anywhere and I'll still be at the meetings of the council and commission meetings and continue reporting on what's happening in this part of the world.  My head will remain held high.

     You may rest assured that pretty soon certain relationships will be revealed on here and you can draw your own conclusion as to what is wrong with our system of local government.  I don't blame them for wanting to keep me repressed and quiet, they create more trash by just breathing than the normal person puts in their kitchen garbage bag in a month.

     It is difficult to believe this system I sacrificed so much of my life for to protect came to fail me the way it has.  I no longer consider America to have a justice system but an injustice system.  Only this morning it was reported on CNN news that a 90 year old man in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was arrested for the third time for the terrible crime of feeding the hungry.  His crime was violation of an ordinance saying you could not give food away when within so many feet of a residence.

     People wake up, a person giving food to the poor and hungry and we're going to arrest them for being less 500 feet from a residence?  Something is badly flawed when a "system" works in such a manner. 

     In today's world I think there's a real probability Jesus would have been crucified in a much shorter time than the 33 years he spent here last time.

     We're a county and city ready for business and wanting people to move here.  I don't see a "come on in" message in any of these actions.

     Again, thank all of you that came to my defense and thank all of you coming to my relief, it shows me there is possible hope for this place after all. 

     As Paul Revere said during his midnight ride so many years ago "to arms, to arms, the British are coming," we must generate a battle cry of "to action, to action, we are taking our county back from the vagabonds."

     God bless and keep you all and above all else, be ye good one to another.

30 October 2014

     I plug into my website this morning with a heart heavy with grief but a feeling of rejoicing for what has finally come to pass.

     My cousin, my friend, my mentor, my neighbor left this earthly world last night and is now doing exactly what he's wanted to do for so many years, he's rejoined his wife in that House Not Made With Hands, Eternal In The Heavens.

     Let me start this with a little back ground information.

     Woodrow Windham was born in Conecuh County Alabama on 3 November 1916 to Joseph Miller and Roshell Hooks Windham.  He was #4 of 7 children putting him right in the middle.  Those were the times of hand-me-downs and scratch the ground to make ends meet.

     In November 1940 Woodrow felt the need to serve his country and enlisted in the Army, Field Artillery Unit, Battery C, 955 Field Artillery Battalion under the MOS 864, Gunner, Field Artillery.

     He participated in the Battles of Normandy, Rhineland and Northern France to keep America free.

     For years Woodrow would not talk about his service time, the things he'd seen or the things that happened.  Only in later years and pretty much only after  persistence on my part, he opened up and told of the horrors of war itself.

     He told me of moving onto the beaches stepping over bodies lying on the ground with his Sergeant encouraging the men not to look.  The Sergeant would tell them to keep moving, there's nothing you can do for them and if you dally, that will be your fate too.

     There were the barrages from enemy guns where he'd do his duty at his gun and hunker down till ready to fire again.  He spoke of hedgerows, hills, open fields, bunkers and the ever present smell of gunpowder.

     Yes, Woodrow saw the horrors of the "Elephant" up close and came back wearing those scars on the inside, holding them in to protect others, besides, if you hadn't been you couldn't imagine the nightmares one encounters in a life after war.

     Before war got underway Woodrow managed to come back to Conecuh to claim what then and would always remain to be "The Love Of His Life," Lois Sanford.  They were united in Holy Matrimony in June of 1941.  Thus began a relationship lasting until Lois passed in April of 2009.  They were blessed with 3 children during the course of their marriage and life was good. 

     After Lois passed many times Woodrow confided in me he was no longer living, he was existing and he could not wait until they could be reunited again.

     Selfish person I am I did not want my Woodrow to go.  My gosh this man was into his 90's and still cutting grass (a lot of it mine), growing a small garden and occasionally popping a cap at a pesky deer.  Always protective of his blue birds, he would become so irritated at flying squirrels that moved into the boxes he'd hung for them.  Just to be able to have some of those flying squirrels left I was compelled to capture them and store them at my house.  I guess we can set those little critters free now to join with his free spirit, they weren't bad, they just took up his blue bird's house.

     Woodrow was a unique individual, I can't remember hearing him say a cross word about anyone or anything.

     Born as Woodrow Windham he grew up without the benefit of a middle name but I now christen him with a middle name.

He was, he is and will always be known to me as:

God, we thank you for having let such a man live among us, Heaven is a much better place today and makes me wonder why we ever spend time in this place of toil and trouble.

I love and miss you more than you'll know, Woodrow Hero Windham.



     Think for a moment if you should come upon a scene such as this only to recognize one of those vehicles as belonging to your mother, father, son, daughter or some other loved one and they are trapped inside this carnage.

     Note there is no rescue vehicle at this accident, no jaws of life, no people scurrying to get a person out knowing they only have minutes to live without help.

     What a shame as you stand there dumbfounded asking why?

     Picture this as any road in Conecuh County.  Again note, no rescue vehicle to be seen anywhere.



     Yeah, I know, they got themselves in this position, let them get out on their own.  Yep, that's the solution, nothings going to happen to my loved ones, they'll never get in an accident.

     Are you willing to take that chance?  If you are, sit back and do nothing.  If the thoughts of something like this impacting your life is important to you, step forward.

     The Conecuh County Rescue Squad has fallen on hard times due to mismanagement in the past.  New life and new leadership are now on hand, they just need help getting over the hump and, as you can well note, this is a service Conecuh absolutely needs.

     Regardless what you make think of previous times, now is the time you need to deal with.  The Rescue Squad is working hard to stay afloat and have turned all money management issues over to the Bank of Evergreen to help them get out of the bind they're in, just a little generosity will go a long way in preserving this valuable VOLUNTEER service.

     For those willing to contribute please make your donations out to the Conecuh County Rescue Squad and deposit them at the Bank of Evergreen or, if you so desire mail them to Conecuh County Rescue Squad, c/o Bank of Evergreen, P. O. Box 270, Evergreen, AL 36401.

     A thank you from me and from the Rescue Squad.

     Remember, the longer you wait the more apt it could be you or your loved one will be involved.  Don't let it come down to a lifetime of regret for not acting now. 


Thanks to all.

Conecuh County Commission Meeting 27 Oct 2014

     Meeting called to order by Chairman McCreary at 5:00 PM.  Mr. Hildreth led the opening prayer which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call.  All members present.

     The agenda and previous minutes were approved as presented.

Payroll/Personnel Report:

     There have been 2 new hires in the Sheriff’s Department, both certified deputies.
     71.5 hours of overtime needed approval.  Probate Office 7 Hrs., Jail 31.5 Hrs., Sherriff’s Department 22 Hrs., Engineering 8 Hrs., Animal Shelter 3 Hrs.
     All aspects of payroll/personnel report was approved unanimously.

Approval of Claims:

     There were no claims in either the gasoline or general fund in excess of limits.  All other claims approved.

Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission:

     Commissioner Andrews reported he had received an invoice in the amount of $2,000.00 as a matching funds contribution for the nutrition program at the Lennox Community facility.  This fee was formerly paid by Tri-County Medical Facility until it ceased to exist.
     Mr. Andrews stated this was a $14,000.00 fund that furnished 31 people meals.
     It was noted the county had paid this matching funds prior to 2006 when it was taken over by Tri-County Medical.
     Approved by unanimous vote for the county to pay these matching funds.

EMA Director Johnny Brock:

     Mr. Brock reported he had one more request for approval on the ongoing safe room project, this request requires the signature of the chairman for completion.  Motion made and approved to sign request.
     Mr. Brock stated that in keeping with a request from the commission, Ms. Cara Stallman, grant writer, had arranged a tour of a community safe room in Saraland on November 5.  Mr. Brock said Ms. Stallman desired to know how many persons would be interested in making the trip and please inform her.
     There will be an Alabama Public Health meeting dealing with the EBOLA issue on November 6, 2014.  This meeting is for first responders, elected officials and the media only.
     Mr. Brock requested clarification as to who has the responsibility to purchase business cards for himself and his assistant.  Long story short, county will pay for Mr. Brock’s as a department head, assistant no.

County Engineer Winston Foshee:

     Mr. Foshee stated at the previous meeting bids had been accepted and all but 2 had been approved.  These 2 Mr. Foshee had held for further study and he was now prepared to give his recommendations.
     Both items deal with road repair materials:
     Mr. Foshee stated Dunn had submitted the low bid for crushed aggregate and his recommendation was they receive the bid.  Approved unanimously.
     Next bid included several variations of bitoumous asphalt aspects.  Wiregrass Construction was the low bidder in all aspects with the exception of 500-1000 tons of placement asphalt.  The low bid for this was Asphalt Specialist.
     Motion made by and approved to accept Wiregrass low bids.
     Commissioner Cook then made a motion to accept Asphalt Specialist low bid for the 500-1000 tons placement.  Approved by unanimous bid.

County Administrator Covan:

     Ms. Judy Covan, County Administrator had reports on the following.
     Need approval for a contract agreement with Intergraph Service for services to be paid on an hourly rate.  This is the county mapping agency working with the County Revenue Office.  Approved by unanimous vote.
     Need an extension of the current contract agreement dealing with charges to housing prisoners.  Current contact was established in October of 2013 and needs to be extended until elections determine the new sheriff.  Approved for 120 extension.
     Determination on assistance to the Rescue Squad.  Forward $400.00 to bank for fuel only.
     Refinance county bond issue.  Approved based on contingency of Board of Education approval with their portion.
     It was noted that the Alabama Retirement Services will visit Conecuh on 12 November 2014.  Anyone with questions or needing information, that’s the time.
     No action to be taken on Conecuh County Cultural Center until further information is forth coming on the deed.
     There will be a 5 PM meeting with Owassa Brownville Water Authority dealing with the Brooklyn extension.

County Attorney:
     Mr. Anthony Bishop reported he was not yet ready to make a recommendation on the CCCC request from the county.  He needs more time for further research.

Executive Session called for at 6 PM.  

Reconvened at 6:50 PM.

No further business, no media comments, meeting adjourned at 6:52 PM

Commission Work Session

     A work session of the Conecuh County Commission was held 27 October 2014 at 4 PM.  Meeting called to order by Chairman McCreary with all members present.
Conecuh County Rescue Squad
     Mr. Robbie Moore, Conecuh County Rescue Squad was first on the agenda.  Mr. Moored took over as Captain of the squad only 2 weeks ago, inherited a financial nightmare and, after the last city council meeting, was advised in 30 days the city will no longer participate in the purchase of fuel for the Rescue Squad.
     Mr. Moore’s purpose at the meeting was to ask the commission for help in funding the squad to keep it from being disbanded.
     It appears financial mismanagement in the past has led to the current situation.  The squad is $167,000.00 in debt and has surrendered all money and invoices to the Bank of Evergreen for their control, a policy that has been in place since March.
     Building additions and the purchase of additional rescue vehicles seem to be the major cause of the debt.  Currently the squad does not have the funding to pay a recent repair bill, nor does it have money to purchase fuel to respond to calls for help or pay their electric bill.
     Each January the commission gives $1,200.00 to each VFD and Rescue Squad in the county.  Commissioner Millender suggest during the course of the regular meeting an advance on the rescue squads portion of that money could be advanced providing a fix toward the problem.  This money would be turned into the bank and earmarked strictly for fuel.
     Further discussion revealed by Mr. Moore’s statement it was unknown the last time the rescue squad had an audit.
     Overall finding, the rescue squad needs to redouble its efforts to hold fund raisers and generate income.  Help was offered to the rescue squad in organizing these fund raisers.
     More to come.

Conecuh County Cultural Center

     Mr. Michael Riley came to speak on the behalf of the Conecuh County Cultural Center.  Mr. Riley stated that some confusion seemed to exist after the last meeting with the commission and he hoped to be able to be able to clear any confusion factors.
     Mr. Riley stated that the primary issues for the continuance of the cultural center are:
     County take possession of the building
     Place the building under the counties insurance policy.
     Lease the building back to CCCC for a nominal fee.
     Work with CCCC in the continued growth of the project.
     Any funding available would be most appreciated but if the above conditions are met there’s a good chance that funds and grants can become available.
     It was noted by the commission the county attorney is currently looking into this from the legal aspect.  It seems there may be some wording in the deed that could create a problem if not cleared up first.

Benchmark Securities, County Bond Issues

     Mr. Ryan Combs with Benchmark Securities presented the commission with a packet outlining the counties current obligations and then he described what area the county was in dealing with a refinancing.
     Mr. Combs gave a complete report on debts assigned the county including debts of the Board of Education.  It was pointed out the county did not owe those debts and could make no decision on the B. O. D.’s part toward any issues.
     Commissioner Millender ask Mr. Combs that should the county refinance now how long would it be before they could look at refinancing again provide something better came along or the county hit hard times.  Mr. Combs stated standard policy is 8 years.
     It was noted that completely fair picture could not yet be determined due to the results from the last audit being unavailable.
     This issue will be addressed in regular meeting.

Conecuh County Animal Shelter

     Time for the regular session was closing fast and the only thing addressed on the operating manual was the fact there are numerous items that need further discussion.  It was determined to take that up at the next work session meeting.

Adjourn 4:58 PM

City Council 21 October 2014


Invocation offered by Mr. Mike Lanier


Call to order at 6 PM by Mayor Wolff.


All council members present for the meeting.


     A motion by Council person Upton to amend the agenda was made.  After discussion it was determined that the agenda as published was adequate for the council’s business.


Mayor’s Comments:

     Mayor Wolff spoke of sales by both Subways.  Mr. Patel has acquired the subway in the Economic development area and his store is required to pay the increased user fee tax, the other store outside the development area and is not subject to the user fee.

     Mayor Wolff presented an invoice in the amount of $800.00 from Mr. Jessie Lett for the removal of house and debris at 207 Avenue C.  Motion to pay approved.

     Mr. Wolff presented the council with the cost to the city of operating the Evergreen-Conecuh library.  It appears the county is footing more than 2/3 the cost of the library with the county only putting in a small, budgeted amount to purchase books, none for the upkeep or salaries.  The city produced records showing they had spent $254,609.00 per year while the county has only budgeted $50-60,000.00 per year.  Mr. Wolff pointed out that roughly 4,000 city residents use the library while there are approximately 10,000 county residents with access to it.  It was suggested the city approach the county for additional funds, up to ½ of operating cost and to ask it be retroactively applied.

     Mayor Wolff asked the clerk for her comments:  Ms. Skipper noted there was a discrepancy in the equations used to compute pay raises and recommended further raises be flat rated.

     Ms. Skipper advised previously discussed additions of cameras to the facility be implanted with additional cameral to be installed in the hall and in “cash” cage areas.  Two bids have been received for cost factors to these cameras with the lower bid at $7,467.00.  Motion to purchase carried by a vote of 4 yes, 1 abstain.

     A recommendation that new time clocks be purchase as those in current use are in constant need of upkeep and repair.  Ms. Skipper informed the council that they could get 3 of these time clocks with a thumbprint sign-in for an initial cost of $11,716.00 and a cost of $4,000.00 per year for continued upkeep.  Motion to purchase unanimous.

     Training will get underway in February the new programs being implemented.  Should be complete by March.


Informal Session:

     Mr. Powell, Evergreen resident at 435 Magnolia Avenue came before the council to complain that some type of smoke was frequently permeating the air in his neighborhood creating breathing problems.  He is unsure where this odor/smoke was coming from but requested assistance in finding and eradicating the problem.  Superintendent Jeff Sullivan assured Mr. Powell the problem would be looked into.


Review and Accountants payable completed by unanimous vote.


Old Business:

     The first item of old business involved the Magnolia Apartments with Mr. Chris Lunsford, who advise the council that he had just inherited this job and project speaking.  Mr. Lunsford asked the council for a short period of additional time for further evaluation of these premises.  The council was very hostile in even discussing this issue but after several admonishments, they grudgingly gave in and granted Mr. Lunsford and his employer until 18 November to come forward with a full plan of restoration or the area will be cleared.

     Mr. Bobby McNeil noted the need to approve a resolution for property at 616 Martin Luther King Drive belonging to Mr. Henry Randolph be condemned and taking down.

     An abandon house on Jordan Street has already been through the process of condemnation, nothing has been done and, based on prior vote; it is now going to be torn down.


     Superintendent Sullivan had three items to bring before the council:

     A determination on exactly what could or would be done with the static display aircraft at Middleton Field.  A request for bids for restoration brought in one response of $21,000.00 to redo the two aircraft.  No final determination as of yet.

     Mr. Sullivan reported on an AL Urban Forestry Association Conference he and Superintendent Adams recently attended.  Mr. Sullivan gave a highlighted brief on the training and information they received saying they would share more later.  It was both an interesting and informative class that teaches one much about the value in trees in income value, appearance value and just all around glory of having trees in your town(s).

     Mr. Sullivan said he’d recently done an inventory of speed breakers.  He advised the council members that he is aware of the value of limiting racing vehicles from our streets but this does come with disadvantages such as slowing down emergency response time.  Mr. Sullivan was advised by the fire department that, due to speed breakers on their route to an emergency, their response time was increased by more than 3 minutes.  Don’t sound like much but try being the one stuck in a burning building or auto accident.  Amazing how slowly 3 minutes go by.


     Mayor Wolff admitted overlooking a point earlier dealing with radar units and cameras.  Chief Simpson informed Mayor Wolff that the recent purchase of radar and cameras had been 1 short of the departments need.  Motion to order 1 each passed unanimously.


Committee Reports:

     Council person Upton discussed problems with the E-911 department.  He ended his discussion with a motion to move the city’s portion of E-911 back and make it a city function.  Motion made and passed to do so but to provide a 30 day notice prior to taking action.

     Council person Upton next recommended the city stop paying ½ of the Conecuh County Rescue Squads fuel bill.  The City has a fully funded rescue squad they can put these assets in.  Motion carried by vote of 4 yes, 1 no (Council person Skinner).  (more to follow).

     Council person Upton stated the city had reduced its payment to Coastal Gateway to a ½ membership fee of $1,000.00 quite a while back.  Mr. Upton made a motion to increase that payment back to a full membership of $2,000.00.  Motion passed unanimously.


     Attorney Hartley informed the council that the Liberty Hills Subdivision needed to be subdivided into smaller sections.  As the city owns the property, they must approve this subdividing to be able to accommodate the incoming business.  Approved by unanimous vote.


New Business:

     Superintend Sullivan stated that the Sausage Fest had been a huge success but pointed out a shortfall in city to use in close quarters and suggested they city purchase a 2015 Polaris vehicle to supplement the current but aging vehicle they have available for these style events.  Cost $11,998.00.  Passed unanimously.

     Request from Mr. John Wilson, owner of the new grocery store to approve an ABC liquor license was forwarded and approved contingent upon all paperwork clearing.

     Todd Bethune approached the council with a request for the city to purchase a 32 foot equipment trailer.  Final cost, totally outfitted, $9,419.00.  Unanimously approved.

     Michelle Conway presented a 2015 Airport Pre-application resolution.  Standard ware each year.  Approved.


Executive Session called for.  7:10 PM.


Normal session reconvened 7:35 PM.\


Council person Miller who had vote yes on the motion to cut fuel funding for the Conecuh County Rescue Squad advised he wished to change his pervious yes vote to a no and asked to amend the motion to include a 30 day notice to the rescue squad.  After discussion, motion to give 30 day notice approved.


Adjourned 7:45 PM.

Commission Meeting 13 October 2014
     Called to order by Chairman McCreary, prayer by Commissioner Hildreth with the Pledge of Allegiance following.
     Roll call revealed Commissioner Andrews missing, all others present.
     The agenda and minutes from the previous meeting met with approval.
Payroll/Personnel report:
     1 New hire at the jail, 1 separation from the jail.
     There were 97.5 hours of overtime.
Claims Approval:
     One claim over the$500 limit in the general fund required approval.
     Under the gasoline fund limit of $3,000.00 there were a total of 6 claims requiring approval.
     Doctor John Johnson from Coastal Gateway addressed the commission dealing with the Wade Morris Property.  This property is now zoned industrial/commercial.
     BIOTAP project moving forward.  There has been an appraisal adjustment.  The building has been leased to the county IDB.  Payment factors are covered in the lease agreement. 
     Revenue Commissioner Bell advised the commission is almost into their 3 year of contract agreement for the position of Real Property Appraiser (trainee).  The 3rd year will commence 22 October.  To date the trainee has shown great promise and making high scores on all test administered.  As programmed now, the trainee will be certified in March 2016, the earliest date available for completion.  Contract renewed.
Cara Stallman, Grant Writer:
     Ms. Stallman was present and advised the commissioner body that between EMA Director Brock and County Engineer Foshee everything would be discussed.
EMA Director Brock:
     Another safe room completion has been completed and the owner requests the $4,000.00 in grant money reimbursement. This action met with board approval.
     Hazmat Mitigation Plan is filled and needs an extension request signed by the chairman.  Completed.
     Emergency Management grant funds check in an amount of $26,069.54 turned in by Mr. Brock.  Mr. Brock told the commission this grant check is due to EMA having met the requirements set forth in their training.  Good job Mr. Brock.
County Engineer Winston Foshee:
     Mr. Foshee advised the commission the Brooklyn to Covington County water project is in progress, bids to be let.  
     Once the water project gets underway and as it reaches residences along the route water pipe will be put in place from the road to the home.  This will necessitate issuance of a temporary construction easements to allow workers on private property.
     Mr. Foshee also announced there were 2 invoices from Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood dealing with their services on this project.  Each invoice is in the amount of $5,352.00.  Approved by the commission body.
     Mr. Foshee reported that a Callaway Road bridge project was scheduled to get underway in October.  This will be to replace a long span bridge.  This project will help the oil companies to have a shorter, easier route in and out and they have agreed to pay for ½ the cost of the bridge project.
     Mr. Foshee asked the commissioners for assistance in using their dump trucks to move stone/gravel into a preposition area in preparation of chip sealing approved roads.  He also recommends that all preparation for these selected roads be completed before they contract the chip sealing process out.  This will save money and time in the long run and make whichever contractor getting the job easier to work with.
     Mr. Foshee also addressed bridge repair on County Road 85.  He desires to replace the existing structure with a bridge culvert and asked permission to let bids.  Permission granted.
County Administrator Judy Covan:
     Ms. Covan announced there was a correction to the budget.
     Commissioner Millender asked how the payout for projects that were in the previous budget was being handled with the new budget in place.  Ms. Covan assured the commission that projects included in the previous budget were having no impact on this year’s budget; a budget revision between the old and new budgets has been completed.
     Ms. Covan stated there had been some manipulation of funds for the appraising of maps fund in the revenue office but there was no change in the total funding of the project.
     There has been an adjustment in monies paid to the Evergreen/Conecuh Capital Improvement board.  There is an overpayment in the invoices and corrections are being made now.
     Ms. Covan announced she was in receipt of a recommendation from the Association of County Commissioners asking that our commissioner’s recommend to their constituents they vote NO on amendment #2 in the upcoming election.
     Ms. Covan announced there had been a mistake dealing with pest control services.  Initially Salters had submitted the low bid.  Upon further review it was noted their paperwork was not complete.  A motion was made to rescind the decision to award the contract to Salters and award it to Lewis Pest Control.
     Doctor Gerald Roberts, medical team for the counties jailed inmates, submitted a program for proper operation of the medical team.  This will be reviewed by the county attorney for probable approval at the next meeting.
County Attorney, Anthony Bishop:
     Mr. Bishop stated he has been reviewing the Cultural Center request for the county to assume both liability and property insurance on the proposed Cultural Center.  At this time he has not fully completed his review and asked for additional time.
Chairman comments:
     Chairman McCreary thanked those in attendance for their interest in county affairs.
News Media comments:
     Evergreen Courant Reporter Lee Peacock issued a thank you to County Engineer Foshee for the good job being done on the Old Stage Road.
     I asked the commission what pet services were offered by the Animal Shelter as advertised on their Facebook page.  No one knew anything about this.
     I questioned the progress of Franklin Primary Health Care and their moving into the old Tri-County Medical spaces.  Lease agreement still in work.
     I asked the commission if they had given any further thought toward ensuring Conecuh would be able to maintain an ambulance service.  Nothing at this time.
Adjourned:  10:20 AM

Side note:
     I’m unsure where it’s coming from but there have been rumors and statements around the county there is a dedicated “paving” fund set aside that cannot be touched except for paving.
     In hand with that the rumor is also running rampant that certain commissioners want to do away with this fund.
     County money is place in 2 different funds, either Gasoline or General as noted in each commission report.  As to secret or special funds for road paving or whatever, all cost is to be paid through one of those funds.
     There are no untouchable funds set aside for road paving, building outhouses or anything else.  Monies are “BUDGETED” to be spent for a variety of different things but these monies are still a part of either the general or gasoline fund.
     As to doing away with any paving funds, the only thing I know that was discussed during the budget hearings is that money to pave 10 miles of dirt road has been programmed into it.  I know that Chairman McCreary fought hard to increase the amount of money for road paving but at the approval of the budget that 10 miles of paving was all that was allocated.


 yea, I know:

      It never ceases to amaze me at the amount of apathy our voting public can find.  There’s always time to get concerned tomorrow, right?  Wrong!!!


     Sitting in on the budget hearings Monday afternoon I look around and what level of interest or concern do I see?  None!!!  Granted it might not be easy for some to attend these budget hearings because of work commitments or other issues but there’s certainly some that could attend.  It’s not like there’s not room for others, plenty of empty seats but…we can’t get concerned, we much rather be like the proverbial mushroom, sit in the dark, be fed horse manure and watch us grow. 


     Only problem with that is, you grow in size not in knowledge.  You have no clue what’s going on nor do you seem to have any interest.  Go to the polls and vote for the “good ol’ boy whose daddy I used to work next to.”  Remember I talked of that philosophy in the past.  Thinking like that can get a person such as Al Capone as your number one pick.  Recently I sat next to an individual at a meeting.  We engaged in conversation and they made the remark about what a great job the “new” commissioners were doing compared to the old ones.  I attend almost every commission meeting and have yet to see this person there.  If you don’t get involved you have no clue what’s going on, remember the mushroom theory, I appreciate your opinion but what is it based on?


     Enough on that part let’s get to the meat of what your apathy causes.  It causes those who should be looking out for your best interest to become empowered and look out for their best interest instead.  You don’t mind if they line their coffers with what they want vice what is good for the county, do you?


     It’s really funny to watch the little coalitions form, those little “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” backdoor deals that only serve to hurt our county in the long run.


     For example, over 10 years now this county has operated with a full set of equipment for each district.  That’s a dump truck, backhoe, motor grader, pickup, etc., you get the picture.  Other counties surrounding us operate on what is known as the unit system.  This equipment and its operators are assigned to the engineering department and the engineer dispatches them in their daily routine or in response to an emergency.


     I noted at a previous commission meeting a short time back one of the commissioners broached the subject of possibly going to the unit system.  Although nothing was said you could tell by the looks that he’d certainly done foul things to someone’s cheerios.


     Think about this for a moment folks, the unit system puts all the counties physical assets at a central control point and the work is controlled from there.  Personally I think that’s a great concept and could save the county an undetermined amount of money. 


     Classic example of what’s going wrong in our system is the “I need it” factor.  Can anyone explain to me why our county has operated with 5 motor graders for more than 10 years now but all of a sudden certain districts need an additional motor grader?  That’s an expenditure of almost a quarter million dollars.  Have we gained more dirt roads in the past 10 years where more graders are needed?  NO, in fact the amount of dirt roads in the county has diminished because we have more paved roads.  Motor graders are only needed occasionally to do the edges of shoulders on these paved roads; otherwise they are a dirt road item.  What would happen if we took that quarter million dollars and put it into paving more road?  I believe in the long run we’d be much better off.


     Granted there are varying amounts of dirt roads within each district and some motor graders might not receive the amount of use others do.  Unfortunately portions of the commissioners in office now don’t/won’t try to work together and do what is best for the county, they’d much rather establish their own little fiefdom and keep those “stinking outsiders” away from their district.


     What I’m attempting to point out here is, prior to the change in commissioners in 2012, there was a system of cooperation in existence between districts.  No one argues the fact that Districts 4 and 5 are the smaller districts within the county and have fewer dirt roads to work.  The group in office at that time established a working agreement that those districts would pick up and work a portion of dirt roads that bordered their districts keeping things in a pretty fair perspective for equal amounts of use on the graders.


     For whatever reasons (we’ll leave that one open for you to form your own conclusions), that “let’s work together” agreement no longer exist.  Well it’s already resulted in one district DEMANDING they get another motor grader and that’s happened.  There has been no increase in the number of employees for that district nor has there been an increase in additional equipment for that district leading one to ask, what is the need for a second motor grader?  I guess the operator can go in one day and decide this one’s too dirty to suit my personality so I’ll drive the other one. 


     Someone, somewhere has inherited additional responsibility to do servicing and upkeep on a second motor grader for what purpose?  Just another expense for the county to pay.  Typically on grading days the dump truck stands by with a load of dirt in case any fill in is needed on the roads being worked.  If that second grader was so badly needed why has there been no additional request for personnel or equipment?


     Now we are deep into budget hearings and guess what?  Another commissioner is asking for an additional motor grader for their district.  Again, when and where have we picked up additional dirt roads that make a need for two motor graders necessary?  More people moving in that require trailer pads or driveways?  I can get their vote. 


     It’s called management people.  It’s always nice to have extra.  I remember growing up the family had one vehicle, a rarity in today’s world but to purchase a second one would have been a burden on the family to maintain.  My how things have changed, how many one vehicle families do you know today?  Could these families with more than one vehicle actually get by with one?  Sure, a little inconvenient but done for the good of the family.  Again, management. 


     A true manager will set schedules and routines whereby equipment will be best utilized.  Emergencies always receive considerations but just because your motor grader is in one part of the district and you get a call from the other end of the district that “my road is bumpy” doesn’t mean you run that grader all the way there.  Set a schedule, handle an emergency.  Bumpy road rates low on the emergency list, grow a set and tell them they can expect relief in a few days.


     Think of the residents of Conecuh County as family, we all are whether you want to admit it or not.  Our commissioner’s job is to sit in position and manage the assets of the county and do what’s right for the county.  How many of them would go home and announce to their wives, “Honey, I just bought another new pickup to sit under the carport with the one already there.  By the way, we’ll be shopping for you a new car tomorrow even though your current one is only a year old.”  Do you think “HONEY” is going to sit still for that and just let it happen?  If it does they are living in a different house than me.  Why do we, the citizens, sit idly by and let our tax dollars and funds be squandered?


     Sure no one voices any opposition to anything, heck we’ve got plenty of money coming in from the oil wells; let them do as they wish.  Go to Santa Rosa County Florida and talk to them about the oil wells in Jay.  When those were first opened up all sorts of new parks and recreation areas appeared.  The commissioners there didn’t increase the allotment of road equipment; instead they increased the amount of road improvements.


     Even though the oil wells of Jay are no longer the money making things of years past for Santa Rosa, the parks and recreation areas still thrive and are packed almost every weekend.  The family has a place to enjoy.  Management with an eye toward the future.


     Santa Rosa County is on the unit system and their infrastructure county wide is tremendous.  Everyone lauds how well off our county is, take a trip through Santa Rosa and, although we are much better off than before, we haven’t reached near the pinnacle they have.  That county has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, they didn’t do it based on a particular district there having an extra motor grader.  They did it based on astute management and their growth includes factories and JOBS. 


     The oil money we now enjoy is not going to last forever.  Do we need to arbitrarily continue buying things to help someone’s ego or do we need to plan for the future when we aren’t quite the “fat cats” we are now?


     I personally think the unit system is a much better way to go.  Consolidate our equipment to a central location where it can be maintained in the best manner available and used in a judicious manner. 


     If we’re not careful we might just get people having to run for office on their merit instead of building trailer pads and driveways for votes.  What a unique concept.


     I guess this could be considered my third rant; it certainly contains the formula for one.  What really disturbs me is watching the little secret coalitions forming within the commission body, not for the good of the citizens but to feed certain little egos and make them feel important.  I’ll vote for your motor grader if you’ll support me in this.  Yep, that’s the way to do things best for the family.


     As stated at the beginning, people don’t wait until it’s too late, get involved now.  When there’s an audience in place it makes some of the little power mad people back up and think.  They don’t want their dirty laundry available for all to see.     




If the link should not work, cut and paste in your browser.

Week in Review 5 Oct- 12 Oct 2014

     Having heard no objections (any that counted anyway, sorry Johnny) after last week’s debut of this feature, we’re gonna take another shot.

     The week started on Monday (as they are so prone to do) with me looking forward to having the motions to dismiss presented to the judge at 3 PM Friday.  Luther and Lee announced it over the radio giving a few admonitions that they expected this misuse of the legal system to be over soon and for those that had started this mess to give their soul’s to God because they anticipated those backsides to belong to me.

     Tuesday morning radio continued some of the same and phone calls did start flowing about the impending hearing.

     Near midday Tuesday I received an email from my attorney advising that the hearing scheduled for Friday was not going to happen.  The Assistant Attorney General’s representative, Ms. Stephanie Billingslea had a conflict of interest and would not be available.  Feeling a little let down, I contacted Mr. McPhillips who assured me he was doing everything he could to get a quick reschedule and would keep me informed.

     Off to the City Council meeting that evening (see report for Council Meeting 7 October 2014) and letting those in attendance know what was happening with the hearing.

     Wednesday 8 October somewhere around 10 in the morning I find out the hearing is rescheduled for 4 PM Thursday in Andalusia.  Not a lot of time to let people know but I started making phone calls.  The other part of the setback, it’s in Andalusia, that’s really going to make it difficult to get folks to come, or so I thought.

     Made contact with Luther and asked for help in getting the word out.  Thank goodness for good friends ‘cause the next morning, Thursday, the very day of the hearing, it’s being blasted over the airwaves by both Luther and Lee.  Along with the notification factor those aforementioned admonishments to those who’d hung in the background and pushed this thing to this level were reissued.

     Thursday afternoon I arrive at the Andalusia Courthouse to find supporters already waiting there.  Little do I know how much I’m blessed but those supporters continue to pour in even after we’re in the courtroom.  Mr. McPhillips arrives at 4 PM and we have a few words before the clerk comes out to get us.

     I enter with my attorney and the states representative and we move to the front tables inside the bar area.  People are filing through the doorway from the hall and moving to the defendant’s side to be seated.  I glance toward the bench where Judge McKathan is seated, resplendent in that 10 Commandment’s robe he’s so well known for wearing and watch the judge’s head move from the door to the benches then back to the door and the benches again.  A possible glance of surprise may have been on his face.

     Everyone gets in and seated and the judge acknowledges the business of the day as being to hear motions.  He recognizes the Honorable Julian McPhillips and Assistant Attorney General, Ms. Billingslea.

     My attorney addresses his honor and brings forth the motions we had presented to the court.  I must say the motions were well presented and covered our bases pretty well.  

     Ms. Billingslea responded to our motions voicing several objections to both our request and the content of the motions.  She pointed out that several aspects of our motions were improper, immaterial and inappropriate.  In fact she even informed Judge McKathan he did not have the authority to rule on some of our motions contents.

     The presentation of the motions completed and arguments ended Judge McKathan said he would take the motions under review and would announce his decision at a later date.  He said if he did not rule to dismiss he would notify the 35th Judicial Court to prepare for us to go to trial on schedule.  He did say he’d reviewed the case and actually was looking forward to hearing it.   

     With us being less than a month from trial, Judge McKathan stated he had 2 cases scheduled for that week, this one and that of a vehicular homicide.  He said if we went to trial my case would take precedence and would start on that Monday (3 November).

     Everything over we moved from the courtroom with Mr. McPhillips chatting with members of the group that showed up.  Luther pulled me aside and advised me that a county commissioner had cursed Mayor Wolff profusely for allowing the radio broadcast.  Along with Mr. Wolff being on the receiving end of the S. O. B. name calling, Luther’s name was invoked in the same manner.

     Friday’s radio programming found Luther and Lee talking about the turnout at the courthouse.  One side was full, the other empty.

     Luther went on later in the program to give a little explanation about what had originally transpired to have me taken off the radio.  Seems two of the commissioners came to Mr. Wolff and told him that if he’d take me off the radio they would support the city monetarily with the Exit 96, Liberty Hills project.  Luther went on to tell that Mr. Wolff had taken me off the radio but the city is still waiting for that help.  I do believe Luther called their credibility into play when he made the statement that should he be standing in water up to his buttocks and they told him it was raining he would not believe them.  Everyone knows my saying on that, I wouldn’t believe them if their tongues came notarized.  Anyway you say it, the truths not in them.  No, we didn’t have any collusion or secret meetings.

     Saturday found Tess and me just kind of taking a day for ourselves, visiting some friends and looking into a possible business venture in the county.

     Rest and relaxation on Sunday and a visit to the Andalusia nursing home just to see folks.

     Now we get ready to start the new week with a commission meeting Monday morning at 9 AM.

     See, sometimes I do live a normal (define that) life. 

Hearing Update from 9 October 2014

     I want everyone to know how grateful, appreciative and humbled I am to have had the show of support for me at this hearing.  Y'all surenuff  know how to make me feel better all over more so than anywhere else.

     By my best guesstimate somewhere around 40 people showed up to sit on my side of the courtroom.  Retired teaches, ministers, radio personalities, people from almost any walk of life you care to name came, some even from as faraway as Pensacola, Florida.  The opposing side had an easy number to count; 0.  Multiply that by 100 and you still get 0.

     My attorney presented motions we'd had outstanding since the continuance in April whereby our local District Attorney, Steve Wadlington, had wanted a delay which was granted.

     Mr. McPhillips presented our motions in a grand manor.  Only when he got to the last amended supplemental motion did the prosecution voice any real objections and they were not overly unreasonable.

     Overall conclusion was, the judge will take the motions under advisement, review them and either dismiss the case on our motions or we go to trial.

     Always err to the hard side and prepare for trial but at least now the judge will get a first hand look at what's happening and we'll just go from there.

     Several of my supporters came forward to meet Mr. McPhillips at the adjournment.  We chatted and visited for awhile then we took off to spend a little money to help the Evergreen economy by having dinner (supper) at Jalisco's, the finest Mexican restaurant in the area.

     Several people came in as we were sitting there and as usual, I knew most of them.  They came over to speak and I introduced them to my attorney and gave them a brief heads up on what was going on.

     All along I'd told Mr. McPhillips that a large portion of people were not happy with what was happening with me and I think those folks showing up at the courtroom and stopping by in the restaurant cemented what I'd told him and any doubt is now removed.

     I received several encouraging phone calls with most folks thinking that the judge is going to dismiss this before trial.  As I said earlier, that won't irritate me but not to continue preparing for a possible trial would be foolish so.....  We keep our shoulder to the wheel, head bowed and push hard for what's right.

     Again, I know I had prayer after prayer going up for me today as they have in the past and I'll quickly admit that's what keeps Tess and I going. 

     Most people go through life able to count on the fingers of one hand the number of true friends they have.  God has blessed Tess and I beyond belief and the evidence was there for all to see today.

     Fingers crossed, prayers going, lets see what tomorrow brings.

City Council 7 October 2014

     Call to order at 6 PM by Mayor Wolff, invocation by Mr. Lee Peacock.
     Council person Fountain was absent from the meeting.
      The agenda was approved with Mayor’s comments following. 
     Mayor Wolff asked the council to approve a trick or treat time of 6-8 PM on 30 October.  Trick or treat will be from door to door.
     The mayor announced an agreement had been made with the owners of the old Sterns house on South Main.  It will be exploded on 17 October. 
     It was announced new radar units were needed.  Current cost for 11 new units is $14,500.00.  In conjunction with this new cameras will be purchased in the amount of $9,180.00.
     Mayor Wolff asked the city clerk to handle the next item which is a change in the way to pay the cities bills to BB&T.  Ms. Skipper said the bank had requested authorization to do a direct transfer to cover the cities charges.  It was explained this would do away with any paper billing, set payment for a consistent date and actually would work toward improving the cities credit rating.  Motion made and carried by unanimous vote to adopt the suggested auto pay system.
     Mayor Wolff gave a brief on the Cooperative Business District.  The grocery store should be on line and open for business by 1 November or shortly thereafter.  Weaver’s should be opening early to mid-November.  Both Zaxby’s and Wendy’s are on track and the most promising of, Shoney’s, should start construction by the end of the month and shooting for a January 1, 2015 opening date.
     Ms. Barbara Sims with the Breast Cancer Awareness group asked permission to do a ladies walk over the overhead bridge on 23 October.  She said the intentions are to get everyone possible, men, women and children to do a march across the bridge.  She asked all ladies participating to please bring a new bra for the march.  Intentions are to snap them all together and string them out as they cross the bridge.  The bras will then be donated to various cancer centers as gifts for those suffering from this terrible disease.  Motion made and passed by unanimous vote to allow this march to happen.  Superintendent Jeff Sullivan was directed to co-ordinate with ALADOT to get the states permission and Chief Simpson will be contacted for local police support.
     Mr. Mike Weeks of Service Line Warranties came before the council again.  During his previous visit he was given permission to do a mail out to the citizens telling them of what his company offers in the way of line protection from the meter(s) to the house foundation.  This is a volunteer project and any citizen interested can purchase the warranty plan.  Mail-outs will be sent to the citizens soon and those interested should respond.
     The current airport refueling system was discussed next.  This system is basically an antique and much worthy of upgrade/replacement.  Currently no aircraft can be fueled at the airport unless the airport custodian is on hand.  A new autopay system is available whereby both Jet A and 100 fuel is available 24/7.  Total cost to attain this system is $76,163.15.  In the current airport account of expendable funds, $58,749.00 is available to be applied to the total cost leaving a balance of only a touch over $17,400.00.  Current retail of fuel brings the city approximately $1.00 per gallon profit.  At that rate it shouldn’t take very long to recover cost.  Motion to upgrade approved by unanimous vote.
     The minutes of the regular meeting of 16 September and the special meeting of 2 October were approved unanimously.
     A review and approval of accounts payable was approved.
Old Business:
     Superintendent Sullivan reported the findings of an independent negotiations study for normal servicing of gasoline vehicles showed Interstate Towing as being the low bidder.  Approved by unanimous vote.
     The council approved to continue the Home Energy Supplier Agreement.
     Both the RDS and ATRC contracts were approved.  There were no changes from last year’s contracts.
Committee Reports:
     Council person Skinner reported the Boy Scouts had requested and been approved the use of the cabin at the Evergreen Park for this weekend.  When Mayor Wolff asked if everything was set to accommodate the Boy Scouts Mr. David Thomas assured him everything was taken care of.
     Council person Upton asked a study be undertaken on how moving the city paid employees of the current E-911 system back to the city’s dispatch would impact the city.  Report to be made at next meeting.
     Economic Director Bobby Skipper stated Lett demolition would be bringing down the building located at 800 North Main Street.
     It was noted there were two dumpsters believed to belong to Mr. Gerald Salter sitting next to the old Briar Auto Parts.  These dumpsters are full and overflowing.  Mr. Salter will be sent a letter asking he take action. 
     Council person Upton asked about the bills for the assistance given in restoring power after an accident knocked down 3 poles.  Ms. Skipper has for action.   
New Business:
     Mr. Pat Poole’s “Bubba’s BBQ” has been renamed “The Shack.”  New owner Bobby Johnson has asked for approval of a liquor license.  Motion to allow liquor license approved.
     Three requests for travel pay for city employees were approved.  The employees are; Ms. Mary Skipper, Birmingham for the annual municipal clerk conference; Ms. Donna Harrison to Montgomery for a course in Employment Law: Beyond the Basics; Mr. Jerry Caylor and Ms. Helen Wiggins to attend Tyler Court Case Management.
     Council person Upton asked if the council was not going to take action on the Shoney’s situation, after all, that had been the topic of a public hearing prior to council meeting.
     Attorney Hartley said he had not completed looking over the paper work at this time.  Mr. Upton asked if the city could not move forward contingent on Attorney Hartley’s final approval of the paperwork.  It was deemed that it would be OK to make this move.  (This is a resolution to enter into an agreement whereby the City of Evergreen would be, for lack of a better word, a co-signer on a $300,000.00, 3 year loan.  When put to a vote, all council members voted aye with the exception of Council person Miller who voted nay.
 Motion to adjourn approved.

Week In Review 29 Sept-5 Oct 2014

     I'm getting a lot of hits on my website and feel I owe it to the dedicated folks who come here for information to post something on at lease a weekly basis so,.....I'm going to kick off a "Week in Review" feature of local news things.  Please respond and let me know what you think of the idea.

     With that said, here we go.

     The week started off with my having to report for jury duty on Monday morning.  Yeah, I know, strikes me as odd too that I'm facing a felony trial on 3 November but they don't want to remove my rights as being able to sit in judgment on others.  Am I a good guy or bad guy?  Make up your minds.

     The morning started with roll call to see who was and was not present.  Naturally a few people were tardy in arriving so when the first roll call was completed the clerk was directed to re-call the names of those who had not answered the first call. 
     Next was the selection of the Grand Jury consisting of 18 people.  For those who are unaware, the purpose of the Grand Jury is to determine if there is probable cause for a case to move forward.  It is orchestrated by the prosecution, better known as the DISTRICT ATTORNEY.  In this particular phase the accused has no right to have any representation there at all unless they specifically request it and it is approved by the D. A.  Even then, the accused has no right of council in the grand jury room.  In other words, it's basically a one man show to tell as the D. A. sees fit.  Is it any wonder the old saying "you can indict a ham sandwich" might ring true???? 
     Anyway, the lucky 18 were chosen and will serve for six (6) months as the first line of defense for the accused over zealot, politically minded District Attorneys.  The basic closing remark was in naming the chairman of the Grand Jury by the District Attorney!!!
     The clerk then called the list of names remaining and seated them in the court room by some system they've devised.
     After rearranging the possible jury members a brief was given.  During the entire episode there had been two groups of attorneys seated at the tables inside the bar and in front of the bench.  Along with these attorney's were seated clients the attorneys were to represent.
     We were informed that a trial was forthcoming whereby these attorneys and the other individuals (their clients) would be involved.  We were advised that the attorneys nor their clients would, should or could speak to us for their own sake, they were casually observing the group to make determination of who they may want to strike from a jury pool when it came time for selection.
     It was announced the trial involved an auto accident and it was asked if anyone was currently involved with State Farm Insurance.  After getting several responses of yes, the State Farm folks were allowed to leave.
     Everyone was dismissed until Wednesday morning and directed to be back in our seats by Judge Weaver.
     Wednesday morning, back in the court room where the questioning began.  Plaintiff's attorney started out asking a series of questions and both sides keeping notes.  After what seemed like hours, and a lunch break, defense started asking questions.  The great moment of excitement creeps upon us, the attorneys and their clients go to the back room to determine who they would or would not accept to sit in judgment.  Somewhere between 2 and 3 PM the jury list was called and fourteen people took their seat in the jury box and the rest of us were released.  Good, bad or indifferent I did not get chosen which did not bother me.
     I did stick around long enough to determine the case was about an accident that happened in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving whereby the defendant admitted having rear-ended the vehicle of the plaintiff.  This trial was to determine the amount of monetary culpability the defense may owe to the plaintiff.  I left for the afternoon after hearing this but still with that curious thought in mind.
     Tuesday I was back in Evergreen at the Depot for a meeting of the Economic Development Board, the first of these meeting I've attended.  This board consist of Mayor Wolff, Chairman, Luther Upton, City Council, Johnny Andrews, Commissioner District 3, Winston Foshee, County Engineer and Tim Dance, Bank of Evergreen.
     The development project at Exit 96 and businesses in work were the topic of discussion.  The ever coming grocery store topped the list.  It seems the owner wants certain things done and it's just not getting done.  The owner seems wants to walk into a place ready for customers in line and if he's paying the bills, that's what he deserves.  Evergreen Economic Director Bobby Skipper, along with Mr. Upton were tasked with getting with the owner and attempting to set a firm opening date.  As of this time almost everything that a grocery store would need has been supplied.  One other thing the owner has complained of is the size of the letters on the front of the store not being large enough, new ones are ordered.  Hopefully there will be some headway made between the Economic Development Board and the grocery store owner and something will move forward.
     In conjunction with this, discussion was also made of financing a road within the development area.  There is the possibility of some private investor(s) purchasing a building inside the development area.  This would be one way to acquire funds for continued development without having to delve into existing funds.
     It was announced that some contracts were all but a done deal for certain businesses to come to the development.  Some of the businesses mentioned were Zaxby's, Wendy's, Shoney's (more to follow) and others.  It appears the Liberty Hill development may be about to take off.

     After finishing that meeting I found myself with a few hours to kill so I went back to the court room for more of the ongoing case there.
     Everything was still full bore with the trial and I sat in just listening.  I got to sit through closing arguments for the prosecution and defense.  The jury was asked to leave the court and then the attorneys and the judge began their determination of how the jury was to be briefed by the judge.  I had to leave before this concluded and I've been unable to find out the juries determination, however I will find out this week and post it on the website.

     I left the court house headed to city hall for a special call meeting.
     Upon arriving at City Hall I met a young, impressive man by the name of Eric Ashford.  Seems Mr. Ashford was the primary cause of the special call meeting and was arranged so the council could met him.  Mr. Ashford currently owns the Shoney's in Greenville and Dothan and is the prime mover and shaker of bring a new Shoney's to Evergreen.
     I was impressed by both his bearing and demeanor.  Mr. Ashford started off with Shoney's twenty some odd years ago as a dishwasher.  He was a worker in the pulp woods, got a chance to get into the Shoney's business and the rest is history, history that hopefully will come true in our tiny, quaint little town with the building of a brand new, state of the art Shoney's.  Mr. Ashford shared some pictures of what he plans to build with me and I think Shoney's and Mr. Ashford will be an asset to our part of the world.  As a good side to this, Mr. Ashford expects to employ approximately sixty (60) people  One more source of jobs for our area.

     Everyone deserves to end a week on a bright point and the bright point that ended mine was attending "Flat Rock Days" at the VFD in the big, little community of Flat Rock.  Every year they put on Flat Rock Days as a fund raiser for their fire department.  A tighter-nit group of individuals cannot be found and a more service orientated bunch of folks cannot be located.
     Lots of folks with ties to the Flat Rock community make it a point to come "home" at this time of the year so it's really a reunion of friends from over the years.  Not only that, I have some kin folks that live over that way.  For their safety's sake, I won't name them.  Mr. Aubrey Padgett is pretty much the father of Flat Rock days and he puts in a bunch of time trying to make it a success.  To date I have yet to attend the shindig and not see it as a success.  Naturally the whole bunch of Flat Rockers pitch in and deserve recognition but I just don't have the memory to name them all so I'll just hit on some of the family names that come to mind.  There's the Lynch's (by the millions), the Williams, the Potts (almost by the millions), the Padgett's, by the way, Mary Padgett was crowned as Ms. Flatrock this year, the Hall's, and others.  Each year Ms. Elaine (Lynch) Hodges, even though she's said time after time she's not doing it again, makes one of her BEAUTIFUL quilts for auction.  That's one way to get me to spend money for sure, every year I'm compelled to buy a chance in hopes I'll be  the lucky number drawn.  (So far I'm still waiting). 
     I don't mean to offend anyone so let me apologize to those I've not mentioned, if there were just a few less of you I could probably remember but with the large group of folks, it's more than my feeble mind and memory can process now.
     Food was great, music was wonderful and, to top it off, they had Boston Butts for sale.  Uhmm, uhmm good.  Kiddies got to enjoy the air slide and the cane making exhibition was in full bore.

     That to me is all the news fitting to print for this week, I will continue posting the results of city county, county commission meetings and others here and will include a brief of them in my next "Week in Review" report.

     Again, please let me know what you think of this kick off and if you'd like to continue seeing it on the website.

     One thing I know will be on next weeks agenda for reporting is the motion hearing for my case.  On Friday, 10 October, my attorney will be arguing motions we have submitted to the Judge hearing my "interference with child custody" charges.  It starts at 3 PM if anyone is interested in coming.

     Thanks for reading the Conecuh County News and Views.


Based on the following the U. S. may well be in for a nightmare like never seen before.  Let's all take time out to thank those that allowed it to be imported to us.

Good Luck to All.


     It seems much to often now these pages are filled with good bye's to another fallen military hero.  This week it hits close to home with the passing of a long time friend, Benny Hammonds.

     Having basically grown up with the Hammonds boys and being pretty darn close to both Bobby and Benny, virtually classmates, there is now a gap and void in my existence.

     Benny was a proud member of the United States Marine Corp and was placed in a position whereby he lead a life I, for one, do not know if I could have handled.

     Both Bobby and Benny were Marines together in May of 1968 serving in a well known hell hole called Viet Nam.  Their tours were nearing an end and they had plans on coming home together to see mom and family.

     Bobby was killed in action 1 May 1968 and sure enough, the boys came home together with Benny bringing his brothers body back.

     I've suffered the misery of having to bury a younger sibling but nothing of the magnitude Benny faced.  It was obvious to anyone who knew Benny that he bore a terrible burden and it was one that, in my opinion, continued to affect him for the remainder of his days here.

     Benny was a very funny guy but you had to know him to appreciate his humor.  If you didn't know Benny you'd think he was upset with you.

     Always a true friend, Benny would give you the shirt off his back.  When money for the monument was being raised you could always count on Benny to pitch in and pull out whatever was needed if you were short.

     Always interested and willing to help, Benny would be on hand to pitch in, that is, unless he was looking out for his other brother who Benny took to dialysis.  Benny had a deep commitment to his family and still had room left for his friends.

     Benny was diagnosed with cancer a little while back and everybody is aware of what cancer does to a body.  He did receive treatment for a while but the ravages of war, agent orange, Viet Nam and all those other life issues finally took a toll on his body and he got in such shape he could no longer take the potentially life saving treatments.

     A super trooper to the end, Benny did all he could do to remain independent and, thanks to the Herculean efforts of his wife Linda, Benny managed to stay home for his last days on earth.

     After all the shocks, wear and tear and emotional episodes, Benny finally succumbed and went to his reward.

     Benny was a good husband, a good friend and a good man.  He will be sorely missed.

     If there is any bright side to this, it is Benny finally got to come home from Viet Nam.

     God Bless and Rest in Peace, My Friend.

Commission Meeting 22 September 2014

     Call to order by Chairman McCreary at 5 PM.  Prayer offered by Mr. Jerome Boykin followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.  All commissioners present for roll call.

     The agenda was approved by unanimous vote as were the minutes for the previous meeting on 8 September 2014.

Payroll/personnel report:
     1 new corrections officer hired at the jail.  1 separation from the jail.
      There were 177 hours of overtime for approval.  The sheriffs department/jail accounted for 174 hours of this.

Approve Claims:
     There were no claims in either the gasoline or general fund that went over the limit.  All other claims met with approval.

Conecuh County EMA
     Director Johnny Brock addressed the commission requesting approval of the cell phone/seat belt policy as discussed in the work session.  Policy approved.  This move saves the county $300.00 from the ACCA insurance rates.
Mr. Brock also announced the hazard mitigation plan had been submitted to FEMA for approval.  He also informed the commission there would be a safety committee meeting at 9 AM Thursday and encouraged any and all commissioners to attend.

County Engineer
     Mr. Winston Foshee announced the county road department annual bids would be opened at 5:30 PM (or near there depending on schedule).

County Administrators Report:
     Ms. Judy Covan addressed the need to approve the budget.  Immediately there was more jockeying to get pet projects put in the budget.  Commissioner Andrews addressed the HIPPY program wanting money put into it.  Also mentioned was the cultural center funding that had been discussed in the work session.  Mr. Andrews also wanted funding in the budget for the calf show.  Based on remarks from the attorney, it was unclear the calf show could receive funding from the commission.  
     Commissioner Cook made a motion they move $5,000.00 from the economic development fund for the HIPPY program.  Commissioner Millender asked if this was to be a one-time thing or were they going to keep going back for more money.  Upon assurance this would be a one-time thing, the motion was seconded and passed.
     It was pointed out the budget included a 4% pay raise across the board for all county employees.
     A onetime $14,000.00 + retirees pay was approved. 
     Move to pass the budget was made, seconded and passed unanimously.

TOTAL INCREASE IN THIS YEARS BUDGET AS OPPOSED TO LAST YEAR:  $1,063,532.23.  Hope they programed enough travel pay for those that abuse it.
What’s gonna happen when the oil ain’t here?

     Other areas of the budget was discussed most especially E-911.  E-911 employees were not covered under the 4% pay raise because of different entities paying them.  Some are paid from city funds, others from county funds.  Results of that will be published later.

Road Department Bid Openings:
     All bids were opened with some being accepted at this time.  Others were tabled until the county engineer could evaluate them.
     For plant mix, delivery and placement low bidder was Asphalt Plus at as bid of $24.40 per ton.  Approved by unanimous vote.
     For the other plant mix and placement, bids were tabled for review.
     Gas and Diesel low bid was from Southern Energy at $2.73.671 per gallon on gasoline and $2.98.95 per gallon on diesel.  Approved unanimously.
     The next set of bids were tabled for engineer review.
     Pipe bids were opened.  Gulf Atlantic was low bidder and awarded the contract by unanimous vote.
     Liquid asphalt bids submitted by Hunt Refinery and Blackley was awarded to both companies.  Bids were so close and based on engineers report, it would be best to have 2 suppliers in the event one is not running liquid asphalt or out of the area.  Again, unanimous vote.
     The bid for lumber showed Hall as the lower cost.  Approved unanimously.
     Motor grader bid went to Thompson Caterpillar at a cost of $54.10 per blade.
     County Administrator presented extermination services bids with Salters Exterminating Service being awarded the contract.
     Cleaning services agreement was originally accepted on a possible 3 year renewal agreement.  This contract is offered at the same rate as paid the previous years and was approved by unanimous vote.  This will be the third year it has been in effect and a new contract will be negotiated next year.
     It was agreed unanimously to continue the contract with AT&T long distance service for another year.
     It was agreed the juvenile detention center of Baldwin County will continue to be the facility used by Conecuh..

     Mr. Michael Riley was recognized by the chair.  Mr. Riley asked the commissioners to appoint someone from their area to join the advisory committee and work to move our county/cities forward.

Chairman Remarks
     Chairman McCreary thanked the commissioners for moving the budget forward.
  County Attorney Bishop had nothing to report.

Media Comments:
     I asked what the current status of the BIOTAP company was.  Mr. Bishop reported they were in lease agreement discussions.  (Hope this don’t fall through the cracks).
     I also asked about the DHR building roof replacement.  That is a $31,000.00 cost to the county yet the roof now in place is still under warranty, it’s just been a problem since it was put on.  Again, Attorney Bishop reports investigation ongoing.  (What good is a warranty if it’s not honored.  I guess it will fall into the same category as a $175,000.00)?

     Motion to adjourn at 6:25 PM.

Commission Work Session Monday 22 September 2014

Call to order at 3 P.M. by Chairman McCreary.
First issue on agenda is discussion on an Operating Manual for the Animal Shelter.  Currently they have a rough draft to work from.  The committee that was to meet on the manual could not find a common time to get together.
Ms. Covan started discussion asking questions about Item 23, duties of the Chief Impounding Officer (CIO).  Next issue was who does the CIO report to and work for, after some discussion it was determined the CIO would report to the County Administrator.  Commissioner Cook asked questions about the adoption procedures.  CIO responded.  Commissioner Cook also pointed out one section of the manual deals with train and supervise volunteers but there are no volunteers, does that need to remain in the manual?  CIO request it stay in place.
A few questions were asked as to organized and submitted the operating manual.  Attorney Bishop stated he had put it together based on inputs from several differing places.
Ms. Covan suggested that a part of the job description dealing with the Assistant CIO be worded whereby the ACIO would also be responsible for making receipts in the absence of the CIO.
In the section dealing with length of time for holding animals CIO stated the word maximum needed to be changed to minimum.  CIO further suggested the minimum time for holding animals be 120 days for dogs.  Cats are disposable.  Currently the shelter can only hold 36 dogs at this time.  227 Dogs have been rescued since March.  Only 7 cats have been saved.  Euthanasia of cats is ongoing. 
Commissioner McCreary asked what medical attention was required to have animals ready for adoption.  CIO Lambert talked of what was required to send animals to different areas.  If they go north, the cost is higher, southern bound animals cost the county less to send out.
It was noted by CIO the Humane Society no longer meets at the Animal Shelter.
One portion of the operations manual addressed donations turned in.  Directions in the manual states all donations should be turned into the commission office.
Committee is tasked with meeting and attempting to finalize the manual, hopefully before the next meeting.
EMA Director Johnny Brock addressed the commission once more asking them to approve the seat belt and cell phone policy under the safety program.  Approval will result in a $300.00 insurance savings.  Will be addressed in regular meeting.
Ms. Harriet Hyde with the Conecuh County Cultural Center addressed the commission body asking for action and help in getting the cultural center on track.  She described that there were 3 phases to deal with. 
1.  Building renovation cost for the auditorium area is estimated at $965,000.00. 
2.  Complete the balance of the mid sections renovation, estimated cost, $1,000,000.00.
3.  Lower section refurbishment.  Cost estimate, $352,000.00.  The Montgomery Historic Preservation is aware of these projects.
The city has agreed to cover water, electric and other feasible items.
At this time the necessary needs a governmental agency to assume responsibility of the building and put it under their insurance coverage.  This will necessitate a government entity to take possession from the Board of Education then work with the cultural committee in allowing the cultural committee to take over all input for the center.
Ms. Frances Floyd was recognized and she made the following presentation.  Ms. Floyd informed the commissioners that she actually worked on two projects and wanted to move both of them along.  She is a member of the Cultural Committee and the Old Town-Conecuh Black Belt Heritage group.  Ms. Floyd pointed out the Black Belt Heritage group consist of 19 counties in the state and, at this point, Conecuh is the only one that does not have any thing pointing to our ancestors past or their contributions to today.  Ms. Floyd said she has been working toward this for many years and would love to see some positive movement while she was still around to enjoy it.
Work session adjourned at 4:35 PM. 

My apologizes for the tardiness of this report but it’s been a very busy week.  You’ll hear more about that soon.

Budget Hearing 17 Sept. 2014

     The hearing got underway at 10 AM with Commissioner McCreary chairing the meeting.

     EMA Director Johnny Brock was on hand to report on and makes recommendations on the camera system in use.  Mr. Brock advised the commission that an evaluation of the camera system for the Government Center was inadequate.  There were several areas where no camera coverage was available at all and in most of the other areas the images recorded were blurred and unrecognizable.  Mr. Brock stated that to upgrade the entire system would cost between $40-$50,000.00.  This would be a complete overall haul of the system replacing the current analog cameras with digitals.
     Mr. Brock went on to state that the system could be upgraded by putting some additional camera in areas not covered at this time.  This would ensure the coverage was in alignment with insurance requirements.
     Ms. Covan, County Administrator, stated there was not enough money remaining in the budget for replacement.
     Mr. Brock told the commission he was unsure what the cost would be to bring the system within compliance at this time but he was positive it would be a minimal cost factor but the commission has been made aware that the entire system must be replaced soon and plans need to be made now to put money in the budget for it.
     The commission body stated they needed more information and asked Mr. Brock to come to the next meeting with some solid figures.

     Ms. Covan announced the estimated income for budget planning purposes was:
General Funds:    $12,859,026.88
Gasoline Funds:    $5,602,370.61
Expenditures planned to date:
General Funds:     $12,853,022.48
Gasoline Funds:     $5,598,029.24

     The commission body and Ms. Covan continued discussion on line items in the current proposed budget.  I did not have a copy of the proposals so I could basically sit and listen.  I did hear the following offices and figures used:

     Probate Judge Office:  Budget requirement dropped from $4,500.00 to $3,000.00.
     Sheriff’s department has not submitted any budget proposal so the figures from the previous year were figured.
     It was discovered during this year that the sheriff’s department had used dry cleaning services to have their uniforms cleaned.  This money had come out of the uniform budget section, money from that fund was programmed to purchase new uniforms and equipment for new officers, not to pay the cleaning bill for the department, plus the funds were used to clean only a portion of the sheriff’s department’s personnel, not everyone was privileged to receive this “benny.”
     It was determined this year’s budget funding for uniforms would be not be used for cleaning purposes but purchase only.

     The figure of $25,000.00 was in the previous budget for sheriffs department vehicle repair.  That figure was reduced to $15,000.00 for this year due to the purchase of new vehicles with warranties.  Also, it was recommended that older units from the department would be placed on Gov. Deals listing considering that had been part of the original agreement for the purchase of the new, replacement units.

     There were some monies left over from the jail budget.

     A bond issue payment dealing with the EMA/E-911 building was covered.
     The Fire Department Grant matching funds portion the county had agreed to pay was programmed into the budget for $53,821.00.

     Over time figures for the Animal Shelter was discussed.  It was recommended that any overtime figures for the shelter should be held in abeyance until the operating manual for the shelter could be approved.  Ultimately it was determined to put $800.00 into the budget for shelter overtime pay.

     DHR budget was amended to reflect the cost of a new roof.  New figure $31,000.00.

     The HIPPY program received no recommendation for funding in this budget.  Commissioner Andrews expressed dismay that the commission could not find any room for funding for this program considering that a former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice came before the body requesting money for this program.

     Ms. Terri Carter, Repton Mayor, came before the commission requesting $30,000.00 be made available for the Murder Creek Lake Project.  This funding had been approved by the commission body in fiscal year 2010 and had been placed in the budget for that year.  The only follow-up to this $30K request came from Mayor Carter, (project chairman) during 2010 was asking the commission to turn this money over to the Lake Project Administration for them to pay out as they saw fit.  At that time the commission body informed Ms. Carter they would pay invoices from the engineering firm when they were submitted.  
     To date no invoices have been submitted.
     You could tell by the reaction of a majority of the commissioners this request took them somewhat by surprise considering it had been 4 years in the coming.  In the end the commission body agreed to honor the request from the past in an effort to keep the Lake Project moving in a positive direction.  This money is to be provided out of the funds that had been programmed in the Economic Development funding section.
     Ms. Carter then presented the commission with another request that $125,000.00 be put in the budget for the Repton beautification project that she had requested during this fiscal budget year.  This request was for a beautification project in the town of Repton and included a welcome center and farmers market.  When addressed earlier this request had been rejected by the commission body.
     Ms. Carter further stated that she would like the money made available to her in October.

     The Road Department budget figures appear to be in line with what they will need for this year.  All 5 commissioners agreed their budget figures should be satisfactory to maintain their areas.

     District One Commissioner, Rodney Hildreth, has withdrawn his request for an additional motor grader.  Seems District Four Commissioner McCreary has agreed to take on the grading responsibility of some of District Ones dirt roads.  That move on Commissioner McCreary’s part saved the county roughly $250,000.00 in cost for a new grader plus any other cost associated with having the additional grader.  Kudos.
     The county engineer has $600,000.00 + in his budget for proposed projects, primarily for 10 miles of dirt road improvement to a “paved” status.
     Commissioner McCreary put in a strong bid that more money and more miles of paving should be considered.  At this time no further action was taken to increase the number of miles to be done.

     Mr. Foshee, Engineer, told the commission body that Conecuh has a high ranking within the state dealing with roads and upkeep.  Currently Conecuh ranks as #15 in the state and has had 40 miles of dirt road paved since 2001.

    The budget hearing was starting to wind down and Commissioner Andrews offered the following observation in a loud voice.  He expressed angrily again that no money was programmed into the budget for the HIPPY program and raved that no money was put in the budget for the town of Repton.  He went on to state the commission owed the town of Repton $649,000.00 in fees for the money they committed to fight the landfill.
     Budget hearing meeting closed at 12:00 PM

Murder Creek Lake Project 4 September 2014

The Murder Creek Lake Commission held a special call meeting at 5 PM 4 September 2014 at the Repton Town Hall.

Call to order by Chairperson Carter, prayer led by Mr. Aubury Padgett.

The order of business was to discuss entering into a contract with Balch & Bingham, Attorney at Law.  Ms. Carter stated she had discussed the current project and situations surrounding it in dealings with the Corp of Engineers.

Ms. Carter said she had dealt with Mr. Jeff Wood and Mr. Jim Noles.  Both are well versed in the ins and outs of lake projects such as ours.  They are also well versed in environmental and water issues.  Both have been instrumental in working toward and getting reservoirs in other areas.

Ms. Carter said the cost of hiring this firm to represent and ensure everything was on the money would be $19,700.00.  Expensive but it makes things move it could be the very thing needed to be the catalyst to make this project get on the move again.

Three motions were made and all were approved unanimously:
Motion 1.  Agree to enter into a contract with Balch & Bingham dealing with the Lake Project.
Motion 2.  Agree to allow Ms. Carter to act with the power of the board and sign documents to enter into this contract.
Motion 3.  Agree to allow Ms. Carter the authority to endorse a check for full payment to Balch & Bingham in the amount of $19,700.00.

This concluded the business to be covered in the special call meeting and a motion to adjourn was made and approved at 5:16 PM.

Reminder; next meeting will be 6 P.M. Monday, 6 October 2014 at the Repton Town Hall.

1 August 2014

     The most difficult part of all this will be finding a starting point so for the sake of argument and to make thing easy, let’s start with when the current group of commissioners took office and yes, I take a great part of this as personal so please forgive me if I stray from being objective at times.

     Just to put out a quick bit of information, when this group of commissioners assumed office two of them were members of the Conecuh County Humane Society, Mr. Cook and Mr. Andrews.  Innocent enough on the exterior but with an agenda underneath.

     Mr. Cook wound up in the position of chairman of the commission on 13 November and basically set out giving the employees directions in what he desired to have done.  Obvious from the onset, he wanted the Humane Society incorporated into the animal shelter more so in a managerial position than as a volunteer asset.  The employees were also told in no uncertain terms there would be NO OVERTIME.

     My wife Tess had primarily taken the lead role in making arrangements for services exterior to the shelter.  She was the one that made initial contact for veterinary services and ultimately worked out a spay/neuter agreement with Evergreen Veterinary Clinic whereby they would perform the services on any animal for $75.00, euthanasia for $25.00 and other services to be billed on an invoice rate.  These arrangements had been acceptable to the commission body and were in place when Mr. Cook and the others took office.  It was determined between the employees and the commission body that an adoption fee of $75.00 would be charged for an animal, thus the county would recover the fees for the spay/neuter procedure and follow state law.

     The newly opened animal shelter found an outpouring of interest and help from the general public to include help in building the “cat room.”  Mr. and Ms. Sims were instrumental in helping to get the building in as good a shape as possible with what they had to work with.  Citizens brought a variety of items to the shelter to get it off the ground with a minimum of cost.  Some brought newspapers, blankets, food/water dishes and other needed items at times to include both dog and cat food.

     There were occasions when money was donated.  It was made very clear by Chairman Cook and Ms. Covan that any money that came into the shelter was not money for the shelter but was considered county funds to go to the commission general fund.  The donation factor can be witnessed by the checks turned in and on file during that period.  The adoption fee would be paid directly to the veterinarian office and a receipt was presented to the shelter employees showing state spay/neuter requirements were met.  A POLICY HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED.

     Over the course of time of my wife’s employment the Conecuh County Humane Society did not show up for one iota of help.  They did continue to hold their monthly meetings on the first Saturday of each month.  The Animal Shelter was scheduled to close at noon on Saturday’s and sometimes the Humane Society completed their meetings by that time but on more than one occasion they went beyond the noon time frame before adjourning.  When they went beyond the noon time frame the county employee must stay on hand to close up and secure the building when they left, all this with no additional pay for their overtime services.

     It became more and more obvious as time went on that Mr.’s Cook and Andrews wanted the Humane Society to take over primary operation of the shelter, most especially in the managerial status.  I can only attribute this to the fact of their membership in the humane society.  

     The move to firmly ensconce the Humane Society occurred at a commission meeting on 8 April 2012 when Chairman Cook did a surprise addressing (at least to some it was a surprise) of the commission body on doing away with the current part time position and hiring a full time Chief Impounding Officer who would be a department head and responsible for day to day operation.  Mr.’s Cook and Andrews both spoke of the monetary savings that would be realized by having a person certified to do euthanasia and capable of giving shots.  After having been open for only 6 months, there had been 9 animals euthanized and all of them were illness related.  They both spoke of taking that “first step” toward achieving that by doing away with the part time position effective today.  

     Commissioner Millender presented the point that if they did away with that position now that would leave only one person to manage and run the shelter until they could complete several necessary steps prior to hiring someone else.  He pointed out that it would be necessary for a brand new merit board, (they were having their first organizational meeting that afternoon), to research and write a job description for the new position, then it would be necessary for the position to be advertised and applications accepted.  Next the merit board would have to meet, evaluate and pick the top 5 applicants.  After that an interview process must take place.  Mr. Millender told them it would be at least two months down the road before they would be able to act on putting someone in that position and they needed to keep the part time person until that time.

     Once more Mr. Cook backed by Mr. Andrews insisted they needed to take action today to do away with the part time position effective at the end of the pay period which would be Friday.  That was their little pit maneuver to get my wife out of the county’s employ.  Amazingly had the position lasted until Monday, she would have become a merit employee and it would have taken more effort on their part to terminate her.  Draw your own conclusions as to just how stupid that move was but like a little moth drawn to the flame, Commissioner Hildreth, acting as if he knew how to follow instructions, made a motion to do exactly that.  Motion was called to a vote and passed with Commissioner Millender casting a nay vote.  By the way, her performance and work ethics were top notch, it’s just the position was no longer needed and she was eligible for rehire.

     Just as a side note let me tell you just how brave these managers of the county’s finances are, none of them, including the county administrator had the nerve to look my wife in the eye and tell her, her position was terminated, instead they sent a registered letter.  What leadership and nerve.

     The primary requirement discussed for the newly conceived Chief Impounding Officer position was they should be willing to get qualified to do euthanasia.  There are no standing qualifications for administering shots except a non-licensed person cannot give the rabies vaccination.

     Now all the marbles are set in motion to put the Humane Society firmly in place to take over the Animal Shelter.

     The merit board met and established the requirements needed to be hired to the Chief Impounding Officer position.  Amazingly Mr. Sid Lambert, a member of the Humane Society, is sent to Ingham County Michigan, supposedly by the same Humane Society Commissioners Cook and Andrews hold membership in, to attend a school for euthanizing animals shortly after this job description is completed.

     Immediately after Mr. Lamberts return from school the position is announced in the newspaper and applications come in, including one from Tess.  I ultimately discovered she was ranked #2 by the merit board just behind Mr. Lambert who had just completed euthanasia school.  When it came to interview time Commissioners Andrews and McCreary, along with Ms. Covan, County Administrator, conducted the interviews.  To anyone that knew anything about what was going on it was obvious this move to put Tess out and put Mr. Lambert in was orchestrated by Commissioners Andrews and Cook.  Even Steve Wonder could see through this charade. 

     When it came to the commission body to approve of the hiring it was noted by some of the commissioners that Mr. Lamberts base starting pay was rather high.  One of the commissioners even stated the foreman of his crew had been with the county over 20 years and was not making that much money.  A decision was made to step the position down in pay and Mr. Lambert became the new “Chief” Impounding Officer.  This happened on 24 June, 2 ½ months of the shelter operating with only one person and NO OVERTIME CAME BEFORE THE BOARD FOR APPROVAL.

     Again, amazingly within the very first month of Mr. Lambert being hired there’s 16 hours of overtime to be approved for the shelter.  Now this shelter had operated how long with no overtime yet the brand new guy hired in full time at a department head’s salary and under the umbrella of “we’re gonna save money doing this” has hit the county with 16 hours of overtime.  It had to be his overtime because Terry Gray, the other employee was out on workman’s comp.  By appearances one could easily get the impression that perhaps Mr. Lambert might have been promised a higher rate of pay than what was settled on and this was just a little way to get some of it back.

     Also on 12 August a motion to do an emergency temporary hire for the Animal Shelter was approved.  There is no need to advertise for the temporary hire position.  Mr. Lambert wanted Mr. John Bolton for the position and on 26 August that became a reality.  Unfortunately Mr. Bolton had some problems immediately and was terminated from the position in 2 days.  The payroll personnel report for the first meeting in September showed 1 separation and 1 new hire at the animal shelter.  There was a brand new name showing up.  Remember, my wife was not terminated for any issues, her job simply went away.  She already had training and job experience for those temporary hire positions and was available but she was never contacted.

     In October Mr. Lambert announced a Facebook account had been set up for the Animal Shelter.  A review of the Facebook account showed the shelter virtually begging for money, collars, watering bowls, food bowls, just name it.  In fact I asked one of the commissioners if they still funded the animal shelter or if it was funded by Facebook.

     It seems that more and more the humane society is being encouraged to integrate with the county maintained government facility.  This started under the leadership and encouragement of Mr. Cook and continued with Mr. Andrews.  Further witness to this situation are the newspaper ads dealing with “pulling” a gift from the tree set up at the shelter and purchasing or contributing whatever was listed on the gift pull.  Again, Humane Society doings.

     It was during this time frame that I was told that money was being contributed to the Conecuh County Animal Shelter but the funds were being deposited in the Humane Society’s bank account.

     At the December 9 commission meeting Mr. Lambert asked the commission to settle the situation preventing someone from being hired full time with full pay and benefits.  Mr. Lambert stated he wanted to put Mr. Hicks to work as a full time employee.  He was advised that due to a workman’s compensation problem with Terry Gray, the county could not do a full time hire.  In fact, the emergency hire position required an extension of time to continue working there.

     Folks, that’s the big lead –in to get to the story that appeared in this edition of the Evergreen Courant Newspaper dealing with the receipt book.  Bear with me a little longer and I’ll lead you the rest of the way to what caused this story to hit print.

     Everything moves along just fine with all glory and accolades to the animal shelter and Mr. Lambert for the superb job he’s doing.

     I continued to discretely look into the money diversion I had been made aware of and in January I managed to acquire irrefutable evidence that funds were indeed being donated to the animal shelter and being turned over to the humane society. 

     At the February 24 commission meeting it is announced there is a full time opening at the animal shelter and advertising is authorized.  

     Everything rocks along until the meeting of 24 March where Commissioner Millender questioned an overtime payment to the animal shelter.  Mr. Andrews said he authorized that in his position as chairman.  Mr. McCreary brought up the issue of animal adoption fees not being turned in to the commission administrative department.  Mr. Andrews makes an attempt to tell Mr. McCreary how these monies are turned over to the humane society but botches the job.  Mr. Andrews then informs everyone that Mr. John Crutchfield, Vice-President of the Humane Society and relative to Mr. Andrew’s is in the commission chambers and he asked Mr. Crutchfield to explain to the other commissioners how their county shelter worked.

     Mr. Crutchfield told the other commissioners any spay/neuter fees coming into the shelter were placed in the humane societies bank account and they paid the veterinarian when the spay/neuter bill was presented.  (Odd how the veterinary clinic knows how to submit all other invoices to the county for payment but this one can’t make it.  Besides, what happened to the person doing an adoption paying the vet?).  In my opinion this gives the appearance of impropriety and makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to keep up with money coming into what should be the county funds.  Where’s the accountability?  How much was taken in?  How is that known?  Where is it now?

     Mr. Crutchfield goes on to state that anyone contributing money is issued a receipt from a Humane Society receipt book, regardless who the check is made out to the money goes to the Humane Society bank accounts.  Sounds as if the county employees are forgetting for whom they work.   Do you want to work for and support the county animal shelter from which you receive a paycheck or do you want to divert county funds (misappropriate) to another civilian body?  Hard decision and could contain some incarceration time.  If you’re on the county time clock, you do county business, not monkey business every employee in the work environment knows this.  

     Mr. Crutchfield goes on to make the statement that the humane society’s books are open if anyone wishes to look, they aren’t making a penny, and this is all out of the goodness of their heart.  Mr. Crutchfield also announced at this time the humane Society had received a grant to assist in the spay/neuter program.

     Things continue along from there with the next issue being the hiring of an animal shelter employee.  The merit board ratings are back and Tess is ranked #1, there is a young black gentleman ranked #2 and Mr. Hicks, current emergency employee ranked #3.  I’m unsure of the #4 and #5 persons.

     Mr. Andrews, Mr. Lambert and Ms. Covan are the interview team.  There are 2 members of the humane society sitting there making the determination of who to hire and one of them has already stated in front of the other two who he wants for the job.  What is the sense in flying the position, accepting applications, ranking and interviewing people if it’s a predetermined fact who’s going to be hired.  On top of that, I believe Mr. Hicks has become a member of the humane society too.  

     The interviewing committee makes their selection and Mr. Hicks is announced as the new employee effective at the 28 April meeting.  Remember, Mr. Lambert wanted to hire him in December but couldn’t?  Remember the appearance of being a member of the humane society seems to ensure job security?  Remember when Mr. Lambert was hired they jumped on the #1 ranked person!  “Well, that dog don’t hunt anymore.”  We can bypass anyone if they aren’t members of the Humane Society, we don’t care how they were ranked by the merit board.

     I’m going to quit preaching about the meetings for a touch and share some information with you that I had requested under the Public Document format.  The main thing I want to share is a report known as “claims listing by vendor.”  Remember, this is a public document on file at the Conecuh County Commission Office.

     One of the most interesting things in this report are invoices from the Evergreen Veterinary Clinic.  The start date of this particular report is in October 2013.  After hearing what a great job is being done to save our animals this report shows me that between the dates of 15 October 2013 and March 12 2014
1. A total of 21 animals were euthanized by the clinic.  Billed to the county.
2. A series of heartworm test were conducted on animals at the shelter.  Billed to the county.
3. Rabies vaccinations done and billed to the county.
4. Skin scrapings and fecal parasite checks are being done.  Billed to the county.
5. Physical exams are being done on animals coming into the shelter.  Billed to the county.
6. Brief Exams/Consultation fees are being charged.  Billed to the county.
7. Parvovirus Testing is being conducted.  Billed to the county.
8. Antibiotics are being ordered in huge amounts.  Billed to the county
All this done to the tune of $3,200.21 dollars of tax payer’s money.  Billed to the county.

     Why are we doing physicals, heartworm checks, consultations, rabies shots, skin scrapings and other things to animals we are only supposed to house on a temporary basis?

     I am an animal lover and have 2 rescue dogs of my own.  When I got them they had not been through the well puppy clinic, I took on their responsibility myself.  For all those out there wanting to scream how mean I am for wanting to cut down on OUR tax dollar expenditures, there is nothing that says you can’t pick up and contribute to any monies cut from the animal shelter operation.  This animal shelter was not devised or set up to be a long term storage unit for wayward animals.  Furthermore, if there’s an animal rescue flight going out of Dothan to wherever, feel free to get the permission of the commission chairman to transport those animals and do it, don’t bill me and my fellow tax payers for travel pay and overtime brought on by actions you control.

     Everyone wants to scream and yell unfair, well a fair is a place you go to ride rides and eat cotton candy.  You cannot force everyone to face up to the responsibility they should have as a pet owner, why should I, or any other county citizen, have to take on the burden of feeding the animals John Q. Public has obviously neglected and don’t stop from procreating.

     Let’s review the newspaper article and see if we have anything left open.

     The first paragraph of the article starts out “What does the Conecuh County Humane Society have to hide?  I believe we answered that more than once with statements about accountability of county money.

     We haven’t been able to answer the question as to why a Humane Society receipt book was left at the Conecuh County Animal Shelter and why Conecuh County employees were required to make out receipts for animal adoption fees or when people made contributions to the humane society.  To go in hand with that, why were receipts issued in the name of the Humane Society when donation checks plainly stated the contribution was to the Animal Shelter?  Mr. Lambert stated this procedure had stopped in May under direction of county officials?  Which county officials instructed this procedure be stopped, better yet, who authorized it to start?

     County Administrator Covan states she has verbally requested the receipt book several times and the auditors wish to see it too to see how much money was taken in at the animal shelter.  There’s a simple fix for that, pursue charges against the officers of the Humane Society and hold them accountable until they comply with the request.  That was officially county money that was given to the Humane Society.  There’s a bunch of people needing to be held accountable for that fiasco including some heads of the counties governing body.  

     Chairman McCreary’s statement that something is very wrong and contact with the District Attorney’s office could be warranted.  I would bet that an order for discovery would shake some books loose.

     Mr. Lambert’s statement that the writing of receipts on the behalf of the Humane Society “was the way it had always been done” is completely wrong and erroneous.  I’m unsure where Mr. Lambert got his directions from directing him to act as an agent for the Humane Society and I for one believe he should be questioned soundly as to who told him to handle county monies that way.  Just a quick side note, Mr. Lambert went to work at the Animal Shelter on 24 June.  Terry Gray was the only other employee on hand at that time and he left the shelter on 25 June with an injury resulting in a workman comp situation.  Where did Mr. Lambert get his information about “that was the way it was done?”  

    I note with interest that Ms. Brown says the humane society has spent over $14,000.00 since Mr. Lambert became the animal shelter department head.  For that amount of money plus what the county spends to maintain the shelter, Conecuh would be miles ahead to get rid of the shelter.

     It is interesting but not surprising to see Ms. Brown involved in another financial fiasco.  I’m aware of the Humane Society’s non-profit status considering my wife is the one that got the tax exempt status for them.  I had personally talked to Commission Chairman Cook about the follies of the animal shelter becoming entwined with the humane society.  I’m also aware other people in the county had advised Mr. Cook to keep the county animal shelter and the humane society separated.

     Ms. Brown put out a closing statement at the end of the Courant article dealing with the “bottom line.”  I’d like to do my bottom line.  If the Conecuh County Governing body does not do its job and get control of this animal shelter the county and its residents will be better off with it closed.  Our county governing body is not a cohesive operating unit.  By appearances some of our commissioners have their own agenda and to heck with the rest as long as they get their way.

     This whole thing reeks.  It’s like “how do you pick up a piece of poop?  From the clean end.”  Only problem, there is no clean end here.


The following was published in the Evergreen Courant today.

Keep a watch out, there's more to this story coming out, just not sure when it'll be ready for posting.

We'll just call this the sieve story 'cause it's so full of holes.  Not because of who wrote it or the info they had to base it on but because the responses just won't hold water.


Thank you for what you did.  No doubt your efforts saved the lives of many Americans.

ATLANTA -- The last surviving member of the crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, hastening the end of World War II and forcing the world into the atomic age, has died in the southern state of Georgia.

Theodore VanKirk, also known as "Dutch," died Monday of natural causes at the retirement home where he lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia, his son Tom VanKirk said. He was 93.

VanKirk flew nearly 60 bombing missions, but it was a single mission in the Pacific that secured him a place in history. He was 24 years old when he served as navigator on the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb deployed in wartime over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

He was teamed with pilot Paul Tibbets and bombardier Tom Ferebee in Tibbets' fledgling 509th Composite Bomb Group for Special Mission No. 13.

The mission went perfectly, VanKirk told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview. He guided the bomber through the night sky, just 15 seconds behind schedule, he said. As the 9,000-pound (4,080-kilogram) bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" fell toward the sleeping city, he and his crewmates hoped to escape with their lives.

They didn't know whether the bomb would actually work and, if it did, whether its shockwaves would rip their plane to shreds. They counted -- one thousand one, one thousand two -- reaching the 43 seconds they'd been told it would take for detonation and heard nothing.

"I think everybody in the plane concluded it was a dud. It seemed a lot longer than 43 seconds," VanKirk recalled.

Then came a bright flash. Then a shockwave. Then another shockwave.

The blast and its aftereffects killed 140,000 in Hiroshima.

I want to take a moment to thank each and every person that comes to and reviews this website.

I was unsure how things would go over when I started Conecuh County News and Views and was unsure of the publics interest and care.

This past month I averaged more than 100 visitors per day.  Now that may not sound like a lot of people but with our county being as small as it is and lots of folks not having a way to get on the internet, that is pretty darn good.

It is enough to make me feel better all over more so than anywhere else.  It shows me that people do have a concern and interest in what's going on and, again, I thank each and everyone for visiting.

If anyone has ideas on how I can improve this site or something they would like to see on it please feel free to shoot me an email at: 

     Today was a sad kind of day as we said goodbye to an American Hero.  Mr. Willie George Woods was laid to rest today after a beautiful home going celebration at New Western Missionary Baptist Church.

     Mr. Woods was a Montford Point Marine.  For those that do not know, Montford Point was the "other" marine boot camp of it's day.  

     As America engaged in WW II the highly segregated military forces worked to ensure there were enough men to defend our country.  Just because someone was a different color didn't mean they were denied the right to fight for our country, it just meant that they needed to fight within their own ethnic groups.  Heaven help us if the races were to mix together.

     While the white marines were being trained at Paris Island, the experiment in having black marines had them training at Montford Point, basically a satellite camp of Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune.

     Montford Point was in operation from 1942 until 1949 and roughly 20,000 black marines learned their drills and skills there.

     Mr. Woods was one of those attending Montford Point by enlisting in 1944.  Montford Point was "across the tracks" figuratively and literally.  A railroad track separated Montford Point from Camp Lejeune and the black marines were not allowed to cross those tracks unless they were accompanied by a white marine.

     Amazing what efforts some people go through just to support and defend this country.  Could we find anyone today with that much dedication to this cause?

     Mr. Woods graduated from boot camp and went to fight in WW II.  After WW II Mr. Woods stuck around and when our county went to war in Korea, he answered the call again.

     Today's ceremony was very moving with a full contingency of 15 marines coming to act as honor and color guard for Mr. Woods.  Amazingly those marines today were a mixed group of both white and black defenders of America.  There were even women involved!

     After the funeral services at the church we wound our way to the cemetery where the honor guard saluted Mr. Woods by carrying his casket to the burial spot followed by the traditional 21 gun salute and the folding/presentation of the flag.

     As I stood there in the heart of this "Black" cemetery I asked myself if Heaven was to be the same way as Montford Point.  Do we have segregated compartments there or are we destined to wander the streets of gold together.  Will it really matter?  Why does it matter so much here?  Everyone needs to learn to respect their fellow man and judge and gauge them on their actions, not the color of their skin.

     As I said to start with, America lost a hero today, I for one look forward to seeing him again.


Evergreen City Council 16 Sept 2014

Invocation offered by Mr. Lee Peacock.

Mayor Wolff called the meeting to order at 6 PM.

All members were present for the meeting.

The agenda was approved after one addition dealing with the sewer CDBG grant.

Mayor’s Comments:
     The electrical department supervisor is now certified to repair street lights which should result in a savings to the city.
     Evergreen is taking a stern approach toward the littering problem in the city.  Signs are being posted advising anti-littering laws will be enforced.  First time offense, $250.00, don’t toss it on Evergreen.
     Mr. Tony Scott, resident, was recognized.  Mr. Scott stated he had a problem with his sewer system due to concrete blocking the lines.  Superintendent Davis advised the problems were the erosion of the concrete in the distribution box his system is attached too.  Attorney Hartley advised the council the city could facilitate these repairs because the city was the cause of the problem.

The minutes from the previous meeting of August 19, 2014, were approved.

The approval of accounts payable was delayed until later in the meeting.

Old Business:
     Mr. Bobby McNeil came before the council seeking a resolution to allow for action to continue at the 223 South Jordan Street removal process.  Mr. McNeil advised the house was in an ill state of repair and actually appeared to be near falling off its foundation.
     The property at 224 Elizabeth Street is need of grass cutting and pool repair.  The owner has assured Mr. McNeil it will be completed this week.
     It was anticipated that Mr. Robert Straughn would appear before the council to lay out his game plan for Avenue C property but Mr. Straughn was unavailable.
     Property at 512 South Main Street is an on again, off again adventure.  Mr. Jessie Lett had moved equipment in to demo and clean up the property but was stopped.  The owner/overseer of the property stated his spouse desired to see the property one last time before it was cleared.  This request was made quite some time back and there has been a lack of any return communication from the owner/overseer.  Attorney Hartley advised Mr. McNeil was procedures needed doing next to get the clean-up underway.
     Mr. McNeil reported the property owners of the Magnolia Apartments will be preforming their own mold testing and will make a determination what their course of action will be after that.
     The owner of the buildings next to City Hall (the Old Covin Building) had failed in completing their promised repairs and has allowed the buildings to continue sitting with no further work done to them.  Mr. McNeil to contact them again, send a registered letter and prepare to move forward in their removal.
     Council person Harris reported she had received several complaints about “the house” in Magnolia Heights.  It is an abandon eyesore with vermin infestation and is located next door to a children’s day care facility. 

     Superintendent Sullivan advised he had advertised for bids dealing with servicing of the city’s vehicles.  There have been no responses to these bids.  Attorney Hartley advised that, in view of no responses the city can enter into a contract with any licensed repair facility that can do the job.

     Mr. Bob Collins of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood reported on the sewer grant.  Everything is in place to go forward.  This is a $355,000.00 repair.  The city has been awarded a total grant amount of $495,000.00, of which the cities match portion will be $45,000.00.  Approval granted to go forward with the outlined sewer repairs.

Committee Reports:
     Council person Skinner reported the fountain for the park pond is working like a champ since the last repair.

New Business:
     Superintendent Sullivan proposed city clerk Mary Skipper be appointed as the American Disability Act Coordinator for the city.  Approved by unanimous vote.

Executive Session:
     An executive session was called to discuss personnel matters.  Time 6:27 PM

The mayor stated the session would be a long one and no action would follow so I departed the area.

Next meeting 7 October 2014

Despite all the obstacles put in it's way Evergreen Wood Products is going to come here after all.
I believe a person that can overcome the things thrown at them and the things said about them and still bring these jobs into the county is someone I'd rather have on my side than against me.
Stand by Conecuh, there may be jobs in spite of the elected officials.

Budget hearings 8 September 2014 1 PM
     A budget planning and hearing meeting was held at 1 PM yesterday.
     I strongly encourage residents to come and observe how the counties revenues (your tax dollars) are being spent.
     Most items in the budget planning stage already had a tentative figure set but the major changes typically came in an increase amount.
     I did not have a copy of the planning budget and a great portion of it was communicated as line items so and so.
     Some areas where there were requested increases were in soil and conservation dealing with the ongoing fight against Cogon grass.  Another item dealing with the Government Center had an increase request from $170,000.00 to $304,000.00.
     Budgetary thoughts for the Economic Development authority wound up being plugged in at $500,000.00.  A substantial increase from the original.
      EMA Director Johnny Brock requested $10,000.00 be programmed for the EMA barn.
     County Engineer Winston Foshee advised the bush hogs were at their trade in time.  He plans on 3 bush hogs at a cost of $8,000.00 each.  He said selling the 3 he now has will normally pay for 2 new bush hogs leaving the county owing $8,000.00 total on the new ones.
     Mr. Foshee also addressed the possibility of each district getting a spray tank and have the district workers help in the county spraying projects, primarily on dirt roads.  Mr. Foshee said he rough figured the pumps for this operation to cost around $500.00 each and he recommended each district get their own.
     Mr. Foshee has proposed 10 total miles of new paving county wide.  Mr. McCreary asked why and if possible, could we do more.  Mr. Foshee said he rough figured the chip sealing for the roads would cost approximately $63,000.00 per mile.  Again Mr. McCreary stated he had a goal of getting dirt roads paved and he desired to pursue this issue.
     Discussion about some clothing issues for the sheriff’s department was next.  Seems that certain people within the sheriff’s department were getting their clothes cleaned and pressed while others were not.  It was pointed out the funds for the departments clothing was designed to purchase uniforms, not pay for cleaning.  This was discovered when a $580.00 bill for cleaning was submitted for the sheriff’s deputy’s yet there were no charges for the corrections officers uniforms.
     Vehicle replacement/rotation for the sheriff’s department was discussed.  It was recommended that extended warranties be considered for new purchases.  Also, the cost of upkeep and general maintenance needs to be monitored.
     The budget for telephones in the sheriff’s department is set at $15,000.00.  Suggest that it be left as is.
     The Fire Departments radio grant will stand as promised.
     The Animal Shelter will be discussed more when the operating manual is approved.  Mr. McCreary questioned the overtime submitted for the animal shelter employees.
     $31,200.00 has been budgeted for the DHR ;building, primarily the roof.
     Commissioner Millender discussed a possible pay raise for county employees.
     The payoff information of county equipment was discussed. 
     District one broached the subject of an additional motor grader for district one.  Commissioner Hildreth stated he needed it badly.  Commissioner Millender basically stated he could not understand how the county had operated with one motor grader per district for ten years, no additional dirt roads have been added and yet, now there exist a need for more than one grader per district.  Mr. Millender asked if districts 1 and 3 were setting up to request another dump truck and crew considering on truck could not service 2 motor graders.
     Meeting closed out with the budget committee working toward getting together later this week and then one ,more meeting next week before the last commission meeting of the month when the budget MUST be approved.

E-911 Meeting 8 Sept 2014
Call to order at 10:05 by Chairman McCreary.
The agenda was approved.
Previous minutes were not available.
Ms. Booker, E-911 Director stated she had worked on the old equipment surplus list.  The main inventory list is started but not complete at this time.
Motion made and passed to declare equipment as surplus and advertise for bids.  Motion approved unanimously.
It was suggested that Ms. Booker do a tally sheet and attempt to arrange items by groupings to prevent a lonnnng list of items to be bid on.
Attorney Antony Bishop stated the U. S. Department of Labor had determined the E-911 practice of computing overtime was not calculated properly.  It was determined by the Labor Department that $10,891.29 more pay was due the employees in overtime.  It was also determined a punitive amount of $10,891.29 was to be applied making a total of $21,782.00 to be paid.  The Labor Department will receive all these funds and disburse to the employees their portion.
Mr. Bishop advised the commission body that should they approve this figure, the Department of Labor would agree to the settlement as offered.
It was determined by unanimous vote to follow the attorney’s advice and pay the bill.
Mr. Bishop advised the commission body that he had a pending ligation factor to discuss that he felt should be covered in EXECUTIVE SESSION!!!!!!!
Motion to go into executive session approved by unanimous voice vote at 10:22 AM.
Reconvened at 10:34.
Motion to adjourn at 10:35 was approved.

Commission Meeting 8 Sept 2014
Call to order:
     Chairman McCreary called the meeting to order at 9 AM followed by invocation from Commissioner Hildreth and the Pledge of Allegiance.
     Roll call showed all commission members present.
Agenda and Minutes:
     The agenda and previous minutes of 25 August 2014 meeting approved unanimously.
     There was 1 new hire in the sheriff’s department.  There were 5 separations from the county involving the following departments/offices; Probate office, Sheriff’s department and the jail.  There was one promotion in the revenue clerk’s office.
     109 hours of overtime was submitted.  The sheriff’s department and jail were the major areas of overtime.
Claims approval:
     There were 5 claims over the $500.00 limit in the gasoline fund.
     There were no claims over the $3,000.00 limit in the general fund.
     Claims approved by unanimous vote.
Ms. Juanita Grooms retires:
     Ms. Juanita Grooms retired from county service.  Chairman McCreary presented her with a resolution thanking her for her faithful service.  Ms. Grooms gave a short heartfelt speech.
CAC and Conecuh Cultural Center:
     Mr. Michael Riley, local merchant spoke as a concerned citizen.  Mr. Riley’s topic was to solicit help for the Cultural Center.  Mr. Riley spoke briefly on the benefits of having the cultural center sponsored and financed by the commission.  Mr. Riley then turned the presentation factor over to Ms. Hyde and Brogdon who proceeded to give a show and tell presentation including pictures of what they hope to achieve with the cultural center including having the county assume responsibility of the building and insurance.  They also had architect Mr. Donfro on hand to explain portions of the proposals.  Ultimate outcome will be discussed at the next work session.
Bid Opening:
     Bids were opened for local surplus property.  Mr. Al Bell seemed to have the best bids on several pieces of equipment.  One item, a welder, had a tie bid on it. It was determined Mr. Foshee should speak to the bidders and see what can be worked out.  One item, an air compressor, had no bids submitted.  Motion to accept highest bids were approved.
EMA Directors Report:
     Mr. Johnny Brock, EMA Director pointed out that the hazard mitigation plan needed approval to continue receiving grant funds from FEMA.  The plan is prepared and ready, needs review and approval.
     Mr. Brock pointed out that his office is in possession of a 55 KW trailer mounted generator to be used for emergencies.  This generator has been on hand for several years but due to recent changes, FEMA is now requiring the generator receive local care in the form of daily checks along with other scheduled maintenance checks.  Mr. Brock stated he could cover the daily checks and, with a little help from the maintenance department personnel, he felt the remaining scheduled maintenance items could be completed.  Mr. Harper and/or Mr. Johnson will get with Mr. Brock and a decision will be made at the next meeting.
     Mr. Brock also pointed out the county needed to approve a cell phone usage policy and a seat belt policy for county vehicles.  This will be addressed at the next meeting.
County Engineer:
     Mr. Winston Foshee, County Engineer, advised that annual materials bid was due at the next meeting.  He will open the bids that morning and prepare a list for the afternoon meeting.
County Administrator:
     Ms. Judy Covan, Administrator, reported she had received a workman’s comp refund for the sheriff’s department. 
     Ms. Covan also noted there was an ATRC meeting scheduled for 10 September.
     Ms. Covan reminded the commissioners there was a budget work session scheduled for 1 PM this afternoon.
Attorney’s Report:
     County Attorney Anthony Bishop had nothing to report.
Chairman’s Remarks:
     Chairman McCreary advised the administrator and commission body he desired a time limit be set on presentation during regular meetings.  Long presentations will need to be coordinated via the Administrators office.  Time limit is to be discussed and established.
News Media:
     I asked if any meeting of the minds had been established about the county road at Guyoung Tech mentioned in a previous meeting.  Mr. Foshee said no meeting had taken place as of now.
     Motion to adjourn approved by unanimous vote

City Council 2 Sept 2014

Meeting called to order at 6 PM by Mayor Wolff.  Invocation given by Reverend Jimmy Taylor.

Roll call showed all council members on hand.

There were no visitors during the informal session.

The agenda, previous minutes and accounts payable were approved by unanimous vote.

Mayor’s report and remarks:  Mayor Wolff spoke to the council on purchasing and placing a plaque on site for Ms. P. J. Stallworth.  She was a 21 year employee at city hall and held various positions.  Motion made, seconded and carried unanimously to do so.

Mayor Wolff also recognized Council person Upton at this time.  Mr. Upton proposed a plaque and recognition for Mr. Justin Nared be done also.  Mr. Nared is an outstanding football player and Evergreen native.  Approved by unanimous vote.

Old Business:

Mr. Lawrence Wilson with Goodwin, Mills and Cawood came before the council with a change order dealing with the South Main repaving, repairing project ongoing in Evergreen.  Mr. Wilson advised the council that upon opening inlet junction boxes it was discovered the interior sides and bottoms were non-existent.  Total cost for repairs for all boxes, $2,340.00.  80% of this will be paid from grant money with the city having to foot $468.00.  Approval for repairs were by unanimous vote.
Mr. Lawrence was asked about any hope of widening the road in the vicinity of Hyde Road.  He responded that the road could not be widened but a low lying section of the road was to be bolstered up with dirt and concrete and, in essence that would serve to improve the area in question.

Committee Reports:

It was noted that a request for speed bumps on Williams Avenue would be honored.

It was also noted that a portion of South Shipp Street was becoming a dumping area.  Some discussion as to what could be done.  Mayor Wolff directed “NO DUMPING” signs be put in place.

New Business:

Superintendent Darrell Davis had requested certain items be declared surplus and be placed on Gov. Deals list however, due to Mr. Davis not being available no action was taken instead it was tabled until he could be at a meeting.

Mr. Bobby McNeil discussed the city clean-up of old and run-down buildings and property continuing.  He stated he needed to meet with Attorney Hartley and discuss 2 public hearings.  He also stated he was in receipt of a letter requesting another hearing dealing with the condemned apartments on Magnolia.  The request came from the attorney representing the owners.  This is the same group that had come before the council and agreed to a time line on making improvements to that area.  So far nothing has been done.

Mr. Robert Straughn came before the council to discuss property he owns on Avenue C.  He stated he has owned that property for 5 years and it has been a nightmare for him.  Any time he attempts to purchase improvement items and products they disappear.  Mayor Wolff asked if he’d reported this to the EPD.  Mr. Straughn stated that due to the house on the property not be habitable the police would not get involved. 

Mr. Straughn went on to tell the council that unrealistic timelines were being set for an owner to bring things into compliance.  Mayor Wolff asked Mr. Straughn how long he felt he would need to evaluate and report back to the city on the property.  The city and Mr. Straughn came to an agreement they would discuss it again after 3 weeks.

Council person Harris broached a subject that she thought the council may have to go into executive session to discuss.  Mayor Wolff asked her to hold off until another meeting if possible.  Ms. Harris agreed.

Meeting adjourned at 6:22 P.M.

County Commission Meeting 25 Aug. 2014

Call to order by Chairman McCreary, prayer by Commissioner Hildreth followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

All Commissioners present for roll call.

The agenda and previous minutes approved by unanimous vote.

Payroll/personnel report:

     1 Separation from the Revenue Office.  180.25 hours of overtime with the lion’s share going to the sheriff’s department and engineering.
     Commissioner Andrews expressed concern about the loss of quality people from the county employment list.  His concern was the recent loss of Ms. Harrison’s departure from the revenue office and the gap it would leave there.  Mr. Andrew’s suggested the revenue office and county governing body should move as quickly as possible in expediting getting  Ms. Philyaw qualified to take the vacated position.  
     Commissioner Millender pointed out to Mr. Andrews that it was improper to put names to potentially opening positions prior to announcement of the position.  The county is on a merit system and as such they must advertise and fill positions based on that system.  Mr. Millender said the reputation of having pre-selected people to positions was already a stigma attached to them and it needed to be avoided.  Mr. Andrews tried to argue back that he was only looking at the overall wellbeing of the county and Ms. Philyaw was the prime consideration.
     Ms. Covan said she would take care of posting the job and getting things moving.

Claims Approval:

     There were no claims over the limit for approval.  All bills and invoices are approved.

Refinancing of Bond Issue:

     Mr. Barry Staples, attorney, and Mr. Ken Funderburk, Merchants Capitol, were on hand to discuss the refinancing of a 2006 series bond issues.  Currently approximately $3,200,000.00 of outstanding debt involving getting the Guyoung Tech corporation here is on the books at an interest rate of 4.25%.  Refinancing for 3.50% financing is available with an overall savings of $175,000.00 in interest payments is available.  This refinancing does not extend the debt payback date of 2036 for the county.
     For the county to be eligible to do this refinance it is necessary they pass 2 resolutions, one dealing with re-establishing the Cooperative District members to approve and oversee these actions.  Some of the original Cooperative District members were Mr. Andrews and Mr. Williams.  A motion to re-appoint these people to their former positions was made and approved although it was unclear if Mr. Williams would continue to serve.  
     Commissioner Andrews immediately made a motion that an alternate member be appointed in the event Mr. Williams did not desire to serve.  The county attorney, based on advice from Mr. Staples, ultimately told the commission body he was not sure that an alternate was permissible.  Mr. Andrews motion died due to like of a second.
     The 2nd resolution was to approve the refinancing of the bond issue.  This was approved by unanimous vote.


     EMA Director Johnny Brock said he had attended a conference dealing with safety compliance issues within the county.  He advised the commission they needed to establish a safety policy dealing with cell phones and seat belt usage in county vehicles, along with some other issues, if they desired to keep getting safety bonuses.  He stated again that there are 9 safety requirements that must be met and time is going by.  He also advised the commission there will be a safety meeting at 9 AM on Thursday morning.

County Engineer:

     Announced Mr. Shane Moore of Repton had been hired into the assistant engineers position.  Mr. Moore was with Mr. Foshee so everyone could see what the newest employee of the engineering department looked like.
     Mr. Foshee reminded everyone he is still conducting a monthly safety meeting at 6:30 on the 1st Monday of the month.  Commissioners please remember to let your employees know so they can attend.
     Mr. Andrews brought up a situation with Guyoung Tech and an access road there.  The drive going into the company has a road that goes behind Guyoung Tech and that road is being blocked by a gate and other items Guyoung Tech has stored there.  That road is an access way to 40 acres of land the county owns behind and north of the current building.  Mr. Foshee was tasked with talking with management to ensure they understood they could not block off that road, the county did need access.
     Commissioner Millender spoke next dealing with the “unit” system of governing the counties equipment and personnel.  Mr. Millender stated that due to Mr. Foshee not having an assistant in the past he had not wanted to saddle the engineer with more responsibility but now with the assistant engineer hiring, it may well be time for the county to look at going to the unit system.  Mr. Millender stated that it seems even thought our county has not gotten any larger, we were acquiring more and more equipment at a tremendous cost to the tax payers.  He said under a unit system both equipment and personnel would be the responsibility of the engineering office and would therefore bring about better management and utilization of current assets.  This would also prevent having equipment sitting all over the county in different districts rusting.  A reduction in equipment purchase would result in more money being made available for pay raises and incentives, perhaps encouraging people to remain with the county instead of seeking employment elsewhere.
     Mr. Foshee said he was not adverse to establishing a unit system and agreed with Commissioner Millender that it would be a money saving asset.
     No one seemed to desire to make any remarks about this proposed action with the exception of Mr. Cook who said he would want some time to examine this and make a decision.  (More to come on this).

County Administrator Report:

     Ms. Covan advised the commission she had 2 invoices from Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood dealing with the CDBG Brooklyn Water Grant.  They were in the amount of $5,352.00 and $2,676.30.  Payment authorized.
     Ms. Covan reported that Mr. Harper, maintenance man for the county, had prepared a bid packet for the DHR roof repair and it would be ready for release soon.
     Mr. Harper had also looked at the roof of the old Tri County Medical Services Admin building and stated that only minor repair was needed to put it in great shape.
     Commissioner Millender spoke on the amount of paperwork being generated now and how difficult it was to forge through it.  He offered the suggestion that a purchase of IPADs might be a way to get info to the commissioners sooner and be an easier thing to deal with.  Ms. Covan was tasked with investigating and see what she could find on cost factors.

County Attorney Report:
     Attorney Bishop reported that for all practicable purposes, the lease agreement with Franklin Primary Health Care was ready for action.  The commission voted to approve this lease unanimously.

Executive Session:   Yes, another one.
     Motion to go into executive session to discuss general reputation and character plus pending litigation was approved by unanimous vote at 6:05 PM.
I waited until 6:25 PM and left before executive session was completed.

Conecuh County Commission Work Session 25 August 2014

     Work session began at 3 P.M. with retired Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb in attendance.  Ms. Cobb was there on the behalf of the H.I.P.P.Y Organization, along with Ms. Nancy Caylor, local HIPPY Coordinator.
     Judge Cobb and Ms. Caylor were on hand to talk to the commissioners about the program and what an asset it is to the children and families of Alabama that participate in the program.  Due to cutbacks in funding on the state level ($8,000.00), the program is in jeopardy of failing.  Judge Cobb said they needed $12-15,000.00 just to remain solvent and over a long term period, she hoped for $75-100,000.00.
     It was noted these funds will help to reach around 100 children.  The parent educators in the program are only paid $8.50 per hour so the money invested is being spent on the children and improvement programs.
     The commission listened, thanked Ms. Cobb for her time and said they would consider.

     Next item for the work session was the county voting machines.  There is a school available to send county representatives that will teach them upkeep and maintenance on the counties voting machine.  It is a little unclear whether or not there is room for 3 or 4 persons to be able to attend.  Ms. Covan, County Administrator was tasked with finding out how many, when and where.
     It was briefly discussed how the voting machines would be moved from storage to the polling places.  It was also noted the Judge Rogene Booker is the Elections Officer for the county and he needed to be included in the discussion in the event he had someone he desired to attend this school.
     Commission Millender pointed out we have an election cycle coming in November and the sooner we can get people qualified, the better we will be.

     The next item for work session discussion is the Conecuh County EMS Ambulance Service.  Owner Michael Lambert has made it well known that he cannot continue to operate the ambulance service under current conditions.  Many of the clients transported by the ambulance service have no insurance service and cannot/will not pay the ambulance bill.  Like any other business, Mr. Lambert cannot afford to continue operating due to increasing cost factors.  
     Mr. Lambert had been before the commission body in the past to make them aware that his ambulance service, the only one in the county, was in jeopardy unless so type of help happens soon.
     The basics of the discussion, especially from the county attorney’s standpoint, it would be illegal for the county to assist Mr. Lambert because he is a private entity.  Commissioner Cook said he did not think things had arrived at the point where the service needed to be bid off.  Commissioner Andrews contradicted that statement by saying the services should be bid now before Mr. Lambert is placed in a position whereby he would lose his business and not be able to be a viable contender in the bid process.
     Commissioner Millender pointed out that several counties in Alabama do not have an ambulance service within their borders.  Commissioner Hildreth offered that, should it come down to a bidding process the county needed to contact some of the other counties that have contracted their ambulance services out, ask them about any pitfalls the encountered during the process.
     Chairman McCreary said they need to come to a decision.  Audience member Larry Ryland offered the observation that the county pay for other indigent dealings, why not do something to cover the indigent cost factor.

     City of Evergreen Mayor Pete Wolff was on hand for this work session.  Several commissioners had questions for the mayor.  He was asked about the city’s promise to pay a portion of the match money for the radio upgrade for emergency services.  The city had originally promised to pay 1/3 and there was some question as to whether they were going to abide by that promise.  Mayor Wolff assured everyone the city will keep its pledge on the radios.  The next order of business dealt with the safe room and grant monies for it.  Mayor Wolff advised the commission they could do with the safe room as they saw fit; the city has withdrawn from the project.
     Mayor Wolff assured the commission the city would work with them in any manner possible.  Mayor Wolff also advised the commission he was looking at the possibility of pulling city people and city monies out of the E-911 system, moving it all back to city hall and act as their own dispatcher.  
     Mayor Wolff also asked the commission to look into the cost of prisoner housing at the local jail.  He said the current cost is extremely high.

     Representatives from Merchants Capital were on hand to discuss re-financing the 2006 series B Bond issue for Guyoung Tech.  If the note is refinanced at current rates savings will be around $175,000.00 and a lower interest rate.  Also, there is approximately $268,000.00 of funds that comes back to both the city and county and may be spent on economic development.
     This will be an item for discussion in regular session.

     An operation manual for the Animal Shelter was the next item.  Chief Impounding Officer Sid Lambert had the original with some updates on hand for incorporating.  Mr. Lambert filled in some of the blanks in the manual.
     There was a reference in the manual that referred to the “Local Humane Society” which Mr. Lambert said the word local needed to be struck.
     At this point Commissioner Millender asked what was the status of the current situation with the humane society and the money debacle with the animal shelter.  Mr. Millender went on to say he had heard or read in the paper that the county was in receipt of a letter from the humane society withdrawing their support from the animal shelter.  He wanted to know if such a letter existed and, if so, where was it.  Mr. Lambert stated County Administrator Covan had a copy of the letter.  Ms. Covan said she did indeed have a copy of the letter and she thought it was dated 26 June.
     Commissioner Millender asked why that letter had not come before the commission body.  He further asked why nothing had come before the commission body about the humane society’s involvement in the shelter from the start.
     Commissioner Millender went to ask exactly what and who had authorized the humane society the basic free reign they’d enjoyed at the shelter, most especially who had authorized them to start meeting there and if they were still meeting there.  Mr. Lambert responded that he thought their last meeting was in April.  After a period of time Commissioner Cook admitted he had authorized the humane society to use the shelter as a meeting point (1) time.
     Commissioner Millender asked if a committee had been formed to go through the Operating Manual proposal.  It was determined Ms. Covan, Mr. Bishop and Mr. Lambert had met and discussed the contents.   Mr. Millender suggested a committee with some of the commissioners involved might be a better way to do things.
     Chairman McCreary assigned Mr. Millender to the committee to review the manual along with the afore named persons and approach the adoption of the manual at a later date.  Mr. McCreary said he would also be attending the meetings.

Work session ended and preparation for the scheduled meeting began.

Commission Meeting 11 August 2014

     Call to order at 9 AM by Chairman McCreary, prayer by Commissioner Hildreth followed by Pledge of Allegiance.

     Roll call showed all commissioners present.

     The minutes for the regular scheduled meeting of 28 July, the emergency call meeting of 10 July and the special called meeting of 7 July 2014 were all approved by unanimous vote.

Payroll/ personnel
    One new hire to the engineering department for an assistant engineer.  104.25 hours of overtime were reported.  The engineering department received the lion’s share with 44.75 hours.

     Under the general fund limit of $500.00 there were 3 claims over limit.
     Under the gasoline fund limit of $3,000.00 there were 3 claims over the limit.
     Questions were raised over an emergency tire purchase from McKinley Tires in Greenville.  This was made by the sheriff’s department under an emergency measure to purchase 24 tires but to date, only 6 tires have been installed.  It was questioned why we were giving our business to Butler County companies considering that it is in excessive of 60 mile round trip to get tires changed out.  It was also noted the sheriff’s department keeps what could be deemed an excess of extra tires on hand.  
     Chairman McCreary assigned Commissioner Andrews to look into this situation and report back next meeting.
     Claims were approved by unanimous vote.

Franklin Primary Health Care
     Mr. Charles White with Franklin Primary Health Care was next on the agenda.  Mr. White has been coming to Conecuh County Commission meetings since 29 April attempting to work toward putting his health care group to work in Evergreen.  They are primarily the replacements for the now defunct Tri-County Medical group.
     Mr. White has expressed more than once he is working on a government driven time frame to start his business in Evergreen.  Just like Tri-County Medical, Franklin Primary Health Care operates off government grants to provide health care.  Due to being unable to get Tri-County out of the spaces (the government has a $210,000.00 lien against Tri-County), time has become of the essence for some movement to take place.
     The plan in progress is to have the county supply the funding to renovate the old Tri-County Administration building into an acceptable clinic.  The clinic used by Tri-County was not sufficient to meet the needs of Franklin or the general public.
     Tri-County has been sent a vacate notice by the county attorney for failure to comply with their lease agreement on the building in question.  Based on today’s actions, perhaps Tri-County will be moved by 22 August.
     Mr. White informed the commission that he would work with the 22 August date but he would consider that his drop-dead date for action.  If the building is not vacated by then he will take action to find, fix and inhabit another building.
     In an attempt toward moving forward the commission body passed a motion to guarantee up to $160,000.00 of funds for renovation to the building and use Mr. White and his architect to bring the building into specifications.  Mr. White ensured he would use local contract labor as much as possible.  The entire county expenditure of $160,000.00 will be guaranteed in payback via a lease to Franklin Health Care.

EMA Director Report:
     Mr. Johnny Brock, EMA Director advised the commission he had received a cooperative agreement (annual thing) that will put $27,883.00 into the county coffers sometime after October.  The only thing required would be the chairman’s signature.  Motion made and passed to prepare a resolution allowing the chairman to sign.  
     Mr. Brock reported the safety incentive program is still ongoing.  There are a series of meetings that require attendance with one of them being a class for anyone but most especially any public official in a position to hire or terminate personnel.  For the month of October classes are offered on a variety of dates with the one most convenient being 16 October in Montgomery.  Class hours are 9 AM-4 PM.  Mr. Brock also stated the sheriff’s department needed to send a representative and he would check on that.

County Engineer:
     Mr. Foshee re-read an agreement from the state dealing with ATRIP.  The agreement had been received earlier but when it was opened and read, it contained misinformation.  Mr. Foshee had sent this back, had it redone and was read and approved today.
     Mr. Foshee spoke of some old, unused, worn out items crowding up the engineering space, asked for and received permission to declare them surplus and take appropriate action.
     Mr. Foshee had been tasked with looking at the DHR building and some problems there.  He gave his report today recommending a simple chain link fence be placed in the back area with the DHR Director had problems with an old pit.  Recommendation, prepare plan and submit for bids.  
     Mr. Foshee also commented on the roof for the building stating that, in his opinion it was in such terrible share it would be best to go with a new roof.
     Authorization to proceed forward with this was granted.  It was also noted the current roof is still under warranty and directions were given to contact the contractor and see what could be worked out toward making good on the bad roof or face possible legal action.

County Administrator Report:
     Ms. Covan reminded the commission that the local ambulance service had been before them asking for any type assistance available.  This will be a topic at the next work session. :

     Ms. Covan reminded the commission body that it was time to start holding hearings with department heads on the upcoming budget.  Scheduled for 14 August at 9 AM until……..   
     The voting machine assistant will be addressed at the next working session.

County Attorney:
     No remarks from Attorney Bishop.

Chairman’s Remarks:
     Chairman McCreary had nothing to report.

Motion to go into executive session to discuss trade and commerce.
Approved by voice vote at 10:23 AM.
Reconvened in regular session at 11:19 AM

There were no comments from the news media.

Motion to adjourn made and approved at 11:20 AM.

City Council Meeting 5 August 2014

     Called to order at 6 PM by Mayor Wolff, invocation by Mr. Mike Lanier.
     Roll call showed Council Member Skinner absent, all others on hand.
     No visitors for the informal session.
     Agenda approved after amendment from Council Member Upton.  He wanted to add for discussion oil, filter and lube and possible contract letting for this issue.  Approved.
     Mayor Wolff had nothing to report other than Mediacom is making channel 148 available for subscribers.
     Review of Accounts Payable approved by unanimous vote as were previous minutes and accounts payable.
Old Business:
     Mr. Bobby McNeil brought forth 2 resolutions for property on Elizabeth Street.  One for unsafe structure and one for debris.  Both resolutions were approved.
     Another resolution for Magnolia Apartments was on the agenda but was to be held for executive session.
     Mr. McNeil asked for suggestions on how to convince people to take their trash cans off the roadway after pickup.  Some council members and the mayor stated that in other cities a $10.00 fee would be added to a utility bill for those not retrieving their cans.  
     It was suggested an advertisement be posted in the local paper encouraging people to remove their cans before a more stringent action may be taken.
     Loves payment of $41,402.25 approved by unanimous vote.
     Ms. Michelle Conway brought the bids for the runway extension, improvement before the council.  She advised that Grady Ralls and Sons were the low bidders and recommended the city go with them.
     The yearly appropriation of $1,000.00 for the Jaguar Football team was approved unanimously.
Committee Reports:
     Council Person Harris asked about the debris that was on Factory Street.  It was announced it had been sold and at a higher price than expected.  The city was able to cover their cost factor and turn over $4,000.00 to the land owner.
     A discussion about putting speed bumps on S. Main St. resulted in Mr. Sullivan being tasked with looking into it.
New Business:
     ALDOT memo agreement for storm debris removal on state right of way was approved.  Basically should a storm come through, after a set period of time, ALDOT will make a one-time no charge pass to pick it up, any removal after that becomes the responsibility of the city.
     A pre-disaster debris removal contract with Crowder Gulf Recovery and debris management was approved.
     A request for Superintendents Sullivan and Adams to attend the Alabama Urban Forestry Conference 8-10 October was approved.  No cost to the city.  They will receive instructions in how to properly handle and remove damaged/threating trees as well as how to establish procedures to save some damaged trees.
     Ms. Cara Stallman, Grant Writer addressed the council on outstanding invoices for 2 separate sewer grants.  She advised the next step was to approve the bids and specs then start advertising.  Total invoice on first grant is $22,843.00.  Approved.  Then next grant is a $450,000.00 grant to which the city must commit 10% cash.  She requested the grant writer/engineer invoice for this grant be approved tonight.  There was some discussion as to how long this grant could be kept in a low profile preventing the city from having to start putting out funds immediately.  Ms. Stallman told the council the monies for the grant writer and engineer came out of the grant itself and required no money from the city.  Motion made to pay invoices passed unanimously.
     Ms. Stallman also told the council she was receiving pressure on the city’s safe room grant.  She said she had offered it to the county at the last commission meeting and reported the commission would take action if the mayor and council voted to allow them to take it.  Unanimous vote.
     Mayor Wolff announced that he’d forgotten to cover one item in committee reports and wished to go back to it.
     The Mayor said the current fire rating for the city is a A5.  If our rating improve to a lower number the savings on insurance would be quiet noticeable.  
     Fire Chief Ricky Nobles picked up from there saying there were several things that could be done to help lower the fire rating.  One of the quickest and easiest would be to get PROPER building number of commercial buildings within Evergreen.  Chief Nobles said a data base of buildings, their numbers, their locations and who to use as a point of contact for emergencies would be a big help and also work to lower our fire rating.  A portion of the data base also needs to be a physical description, to include dimensions of the buildings, entrance, exit areas, major electrical distribution areas and any other pertinent information.
     Discussion of wrong, improper, incorrect or completely missing street names hamper emergency responds when called.  
     It was discussed how our surrounding cities employ a qualified person to do the necessary “mapping” procedures to compile this information.  Mr. Nobles stated he had talked to a person from Monroeville who had the credentials to perform the work and would do so for $12.00 per hour wage.
     Mr. Larry Ryland, who has extensive experience with E 911 systems, offered helpful comments and directions during the discussion.
     Council person Harris was interested in getting this program in operation but wanted to know why we weren’t advertising for someone local.  Bottom line, a list of qualifications needed will be put together and the city will advertise the position.
     Council Person Upton addressed the issue he had placed on the agenda.  He questioned as to where a memorandum circulated among city departments directing all oil/filter/lube jobs be taken to Hawsey Automotive had originated from?  
     Superintendent Sullivan stated he had disturbed the memo.  Mr. Upton asked as to whose authority Mr. Sullivan acted upon.  Mr. Sullivan responded that he would never undertake to make a decision such as that without direction.  Mayor Wolff spoke up and admitted he had directed Mr. Sullivan to take that action.  The Mayor noted that vehicles needed for emergency response were often unavailable for several hours due to a simply oil/filter change.  The mayor had talked with Mr. Hawsey who guaranteed a 1 hour start to finish time for $24.95 hence the mayor elected to go this routine.
     After further discussion, it was determined a bid list would be sent out to each licensed contractor within the city allowing them the opportunity to qualify for this work too.
     Mayor Wolff asked for a motion to go into executive session.  Passed and executive session started.
     Reconvened to regular session at 7:35. 
Motion to adjourn approved.

Inspection Results for the Old Poole Truck Line Property

     Although I was unable to attend the inspection I did receive a full report on it and the results.

     A young lady from PPM in Bay Minnette came up to do what is known as a Phase 1 inspection of the property.  This inspection is being paid for by the county tax payers and is being done as a precaution to purchasing a “pig in a poke.”

     This inspection was the main point for the emergency call meeting of Friday, 30 May 2014.  It was discussed and voted at that meeting to, at a minimum, do this inspection.  It was also discussed by some of the commissioners at that meeting that the county should have some type of earth digging equipment on hand in the event soil samples could be pulled.  The first clue something might be wrong came when the sellers, S & S Properties of Alabama, refused to allow any digging on the property.

     It seems Commissioners Cook, Hildreth and McCreary were interested enough to make it to the site for the inspection.  They were accompanied by County Engineer Winston Foshee and District 4 Foreman Eugene Hooks.  Mr. Hildreth did have to depart before the inspection was completed.

     Commissioner Millender is in class in Mobile this week and was not on hand.  No report as to why Commissioner Andrews could not be there.  Also, Dr. John Johnson with Costal Gateway who had shown great interest in this project and had been the point of contact with the owners about doing the digging and also was the contact for PPM failed to come to the site during the inspection.

     The inspector went about the area with due diligence, making notes and asking questions of Mr. Hooks who walked with her. 

     At the completion of her inspection she advised the 2 remaining commissioners, Mr. Foshee and Mr. Hooks that she intended to write in her report that, based on what she had seen from this walkthrough, she would recommend at a minimum doing a Phase II more in-depth inspection.

     There’s our $2,900.00 answer to question #1.  Let’s take a break and see where this leads to now.  Are we going to continue rushing into possibly buying land that may be contaminated, are we going to pick up our marbles and go home, are we going to spend more tax dollars to “see” what we’re going to get or do we tell the seller anything left is on you bud. 

     Why are certain commissioners so set on buying this land, most especially at double the original purchase price and 4 acres less.?  Why is there nothing being publicly published or discussed about this deal?  When do the back room antics stop and the people be made aware?  Is there someone forgetting whose money they are dealing with?

Commission Meeting 28 July 2014

     Called to order at 5 PM by Chairman McCreary.  Commissioner Hildreth gave the invocation followed by the pledge of Allegiance.

     All commissioners were present for roll call.  The agenda and minutes from 2 previous meetings meet with unanimous approval.

 Payroll/Personnel report:
     One separation from the jail noted.
     There were 86.5 hours of overtime submitted.  Approved by unanimous vote.

     There were no claims over the board limit in either the gasoline or general fund.

     Ms. Tena Moten, DHR was next on the agenda but had completed her business during the work session.

     Ms. Du Ann Brown, Humane Society was to give an update on services provided but she did not show either.

     EMA Director Johnny Brock stated he didn’t really have anything to report other than he was continuing on with the Safety Committee.  The policies must be completed by 31 October and there is a required for 2 classes to be held involving 4 people only.

     Mr. Winston Foshee, County Engineer reminded the commission that the last round of ATRIP monies will be spent in the scheduled projects.  Mr. Foshee reminded the commission body that the counties match portion for this project would be more than those in the past because of cost overruns and increases.  This had been noted, discussed and determined to be no problem at a previous meeting.  Mr. Foshee informed the commission he would have to contact ATRIP about a mistake in the wording of a resolution and would have it ready for the next meeting.

     Commissioner Hildreth asked about the bridge on C. R. 52.  Mr. Foshee stated he expects, weather permitting, that bridge will reopen around the end of August.

     County Administrator Covan was next and asked the commission if they had completed a review of the newly written Animal Shelter Operations Manual.  No action forthcoming for this upgrade in procedures.

     Bridge Inspector Grooms with the engineering department will be retiring next month.  Ms. Covan said she had been in contact with Ms. Grooms and, should the commission desire to recognize her, she would be available for the 25 August meeting.

     Commissioner Andrews asked about the progress in getting Mr. Dudley Godwin some assistance in putting out voting machines.  Commissioner Millender said he had checked with other counties as to the manner in which they got out their voting machines.  Seems they have some of their county employees trained and they handle putting the machines out and gathering them up.  Mr. Millender advised that for $1,500.00 for the instructor, we too could have some of our people certified.

     Commissioner Millender asked why the vehicles that had been declared surplus had not been placed on the Gov. Deals list.  Ms. Covan said she would get on top of that.

     Commissioner Millender then asked why he had not been provided the receipt book used at the animal shelter.  He said it had been a long period of time and his request had been made more than once.  He stated that if the book was maintained in a county facility it should be a county book and most especially available for the commission to review.  Also, the auditors had a need to see the money amounts for accounting purposes.

     Both Ms. Covan and County Attorney Bishop responded that it appeared the receipt book in question was a receipt book for the Humane Society and they refuse access.  It seems the county employees have been acting as agents for the humane society, taking in donations to the animal shelter and issuing a humane society receipt then passing the money along to the humane society.

     County Attorney Bishop reported Tri-County Medical has not vacated the Tri-County building due to liens put against the building by HRRSA.  This is preventing Franklin Primary Health care from moving in and continuing low cost medical care to our residents.  Mr. Bishop said he had sent Tri-County a letter advising them they were in violation of their lease agreement and they had 30 days to vacate.  As of now there has been no response.

     Mr. Bishop also stated he had looked into the request of helping the local Conecuh County Ambulance Service out and there is no way the county can legally monetarily subsidize any private entity.  

     Chairman McCreary had no announcements or comments.

     Under media comments I expressed my concern that books and ledgers were missing from county control.  I asked why the humane society and county employees had interacted together dealing with money coming into the animal shelter.  I also asked who had authorized that to happen in the first place.  Needless to say, there were no answers forthcoming.

     I also reminded the commission that Mr. John Crutchfield, Vice-President of the Humane Society had appeared before the commission body in March explaining why the adoption fee was being given to the humane society for them to pay the vet bills for spay/neuter.  Mr. Crutchfield had also stated that the humane society books were available to the commission or the public for review.  Based on current statements and status I must assume that policy of alleged openness no longer exist.

Meeting adjourned 5:58 PM.

Commission Work Session  28 July 2014
     The work session was called to order by Commission Chairman McCreary at 4 PM.
     Grant Writer Cara Stallman was recognized first.  She reported the Brooklyn water grant work was progressing.  Mr. Bob Carter of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood was overseeing the engineering portion of the project.  She stated that all residents of low to moderate income would have water made available right up to their houses at no cost.
     Ms. Stallman said the safe room grants were approximately 50% completed.
     Ms. Stallman advised the commission that in 2010 a grant for a large municipal safe room for the city of Evergreen had been applied for and was awarded in 2012.  This was a match project (75%-25%) with a part of the cities match being done as “in kind.”  She told the commission that Mayor Wolff’s priority had changed between the application and now and he no longer wants to participate.  She went on to say that it would be no problem to swing that grant over to the county if they so desire.
     She had pictures of the safe building to provide the commissioners so they would get a look at the appearance upon completion.  The grant was honored for the construction to take place in the area of the Evergreen Fire Station.  A question arose as to what other uses could the building have.  Ms. Stallman said that the only FEMA requirement was, should a tornado warning occur, the doors must be opened.
     The building will be 3,500 square feet with bathrooms and kitchen available.  It is designed to withstand winds up to 250 MPH.  It was noted that other cities had applied for and received grants for safe rooms and used their buildings for a variety of functions to include weddings, senior citizens center, family reunions, etc.
     After discussion Commissioner Millender suggested the commissioners get with Mayor Wolff for further discussion before making any commitment. 
     Ms. Covan, County Administrator, said County Maintenance Man Harper be allowed to give a brief presentation of the status of the animal shelter fencing
     Mr. Harper informed the commission that he still needed to stretch and complete the wiring across the front but due to other maintenance problems he had been unable to work on it today.  He told the commission 3 rolls of used fencing had been donated along with some top rail.  Commissioner Cook told him to let him know if he needed anymore top rail as he had several 100 feet he was willing to donate.
     Ms. Moten, DHR Director, spoke to the commission about the condition of the DHR building and grounds.  She stated they had actually found a snake in the DHR building in May.  She went on to talk about condition of the area around the building.  There is a visiting area in the back of the building for a parent to have time with their child for supervised meetings.  A deep ravine borders this area and, in her opinion, creates a danger zone.  She suggested a wooden fence currently in place be extended to prevent someone from falling into the hole.  She also expressed concern about wasp nest around the building.
     Ms. Moten’s major concern was the condition of the building, especially the roof.  She said staff members are actually having to put plastic over their desk when the leave for the day to prevent water from leaking in and ruining paperwork in their work area.  After discussion it was determined that the maintenance personnel take a look, report to Ms. Covan and see about getting a contractor involved for estimates.
     Mr. Thad House, Lyeffion VFD, came before the commission.  Mr. House was instrumental in getting the large grant to upgrade radios for the county but has encountered a few snags.
     Mr. House said went the project had first been undertaken the City of Evergreen had pledged 1/3 of the matching funds and the county had pledged 2/3.  He said that Mayor Wolff had informed him the city had paid out all the funds they intended to for this project and would no longer support it. 
     Mr. House said that the grant had to be amended due to a reduction in scope and FEMA needed a resolution passed acknowledging the grant match.  Also, all VFD and others involved in getting the upgraded communications system must submit a memo of understanding.  Mr. House said grant money was in a hold status due to a lack of payments but everything could be back on track provided some money was forth coming.

     Commissioner Millender suggested meeting with the city about these projects that the city seems to be withdrawing from and see what “washes out.”

Work Session Adjourned  4:58 PM

City Advisory Board

     The Evergreen City Advisory Board met at 6 PM Tuesday, 22 July at the Depot with 18 people in attendance.  At the previous (initial) meeting there were 19 people present, by maintaining this number it shows there is interest in Evergreen succeeding.

     Mr. Michael Riley opened the conversational meeting with a prepared handout and brief statement.  He said he had been in contact with other cities in the local area and has arranged for members of groups such as the YMCA to come and make a presentation to the board on how to organize and form so we too can possible acquire our own drawing cards to entice others to come to Evergreen.

     Mr. Riley’s handout was a thank you to those in attendance and laid out some pointers and directions he felt the board should adopt and move toward.  He asks that people bring ideas to the meetings and along with these ideas, bring solutions or ways to implement them.  Everyone is encouraged to write their ideas and proposals down for submission.  By doing so it keeps them from being just a fleeting thought.  He also points out that to build a better community, this group must work toward accountability and trust.

     Local businessman Jessie Lett spoke on trust issues.  He reiterated what Mr. Riley said about trust being the major tool for any organization to move forward.  We must use what is available to us to advance, said Lett.  We have a variety of cultural problems that must be overcome; our young people need examples, teaching and training to move forward.  The issues of young men and women in school facing peer pressure to “fall into the routine” and do as the others is a massive tool that must be worked on to overcome and establish a prosperous community.

     Luther Upton, City Council member announced that as of today a black business man and owner of 4 Shoney’s restaurants had committed to build a Shoney’s in the new Evergreen Gateway area.  Mr. Upton went on to share that as of now a Wendy’s, Zack’s and Sporting Goods store owners have committed or signed letters of intent to build.

     One board member in the audience stated that she had driven by Carver Recreation Center today and approximately 15 children, all black, were there.  She said the Carver building is in bad shape and it is a shame to see such a resource not being used to its fullest.  It is incumbent on us to cultivate the children, provide them with needed items and help shape them into good and useful citizens.

     Ms. Ginger Caylor, coordinator of the HIPPY program spoke of help and programs available through her organization.  She had several success stories she pointed to, including a piano teaching program that was available along with others.

     She spoke of the looks of many of the downtown buildings and how hard it would be for an Evergreen visitor to grasp the worth of our city and be encouraged to move here when presented with such dilapidated appearances.  A suggestion to possible use those buildings as an advertisement for community involvement by putting up canvass’s or paper sidings and allowing our children to paint tasteful murals on them.  Granted the canvas or paper may not last long but it can be replaced and the paintings redone.

     Another member of the board representing District 4 prepared a typed impact statement that he presented to the board.  It contained thoughts, suggestions and ideas on how to implement and better use the resources of the city, where to best locate social services and facilities for citizens of all ages, to ensure that non-biased, multicultural advisory boards such as this one continue to flourish, and suggested the city make every attempt to ensure these programs move forward.  This would enable Evergreen to put forth a more beautified city appearance showing visitors traveling through the city that the residents did take pride in “their place.”

     There were other recommendations and suggestions contained within this statement recommending that the city update and do extensive repairs to Caver Rec. Center then establish a professional director of the facility.  Establish an agenda of activities available to the public to include certified life guards, swimming lessons and a variety of other game activities.  Not to be left out, establish a program of continuing educational aspects, i.e., painting, landscaping, flower arraignments to name a few.  It would necessitate hiring some part-time staff to oversee and teach these classes.

     A need for security was also recognized with the suggestion of hiring off-duty police officers (to be paid by the citizens using the facility).  An offshoot of this would be for the Evergreen High School gymnasium and weight room to become an extended part of this project.

     Mr. Upton asked for proposals on how to pay for these upgrades.  Mr. Moore responded with the suggestion that a priority list be established and start working toward these improvements in steps.
     It was pointed out that an abundance of ideas have been forwarded for the younger generation but we also have people at the other end of the spectrum that have desires and needs too.  Some suggestions were, start bingo games or similar programs that would encourage our senior citizens to get out of their homes, mingle and interact.  Believe it or not, that’s a group of knowledge that is not being taped into and everyone knows that knowledge is always subject of being taken from us.

     Several suggestions about the current Cultural Center came up, most especially how to motivate people to help get it off the ground and make it a focal point of the advisory board’s recommendations.  It seems it’s much like the elephant in the living room, ignored.
     Meeting adjourned at 7:05 PM with the next meeting scheduled in 2 weeks.

Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Wolff, Commission Chairman McCreary, Doctor John Johnson and others, BIOTAP will be coming to Conecuh.
Pictured above officials from the city, county, BIOTAP and Coastal Gateway looking on as the commitment contact is signed.

See BIOTAP press release below.

Commission Meeting 17 July 2014

     The Conecuh County Commission held its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday 17 July vice the normal meeting day of Monday.

     Meeting called to order by Chairman McCreary at 9 AM.  Prayer offered by Commissioner Hildreth, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

     All commissioners present for roll call.

     The agenda and minutes from the meeting of 23 June were approved by unanimous vote.

     Payroll/Personnel report shows one new hire in the probate judge office.  There were 47 hours of overtime requiring approval.

     Claims requiring approval:  General fund (over $500.00) 5 separate claims.  Gasoline Fund (over $3,000.00) 1 claim.  Ms. Covan, County Administrator, pointed out that there was one more outstanding bill dealing with cleaning the exterior of the Government Center however she desired a county maintenance person to be on hand.  There was general discussion of how the building looked much better but one of the requests in the contract called for sealing the gutter system.  That was not and cannot be accomplished until damage to the west side gutter system by Hurricane Ivan can be repaired.  County Maintenance person Ben Harper arrived and talked to the commission about the work done and getting the gutter system repaired.
     After discussion, Commissioner Andrews moved to pay the contractor.  The motion was seconded by Commissioner Cook and passed by unanimous vote.

     It is scheduled rotation time for the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission.  As per rules established by the commission body, Commission Millender became the ALATOM representative replacing Mr. McCreary.

     Next item on the agenda was to consider an assistant for the voting machine custodian.  Mr. Dudley Godwin is the current custodian and on more than one occasion a need for help for him has risen.  
     Some suggestions offered by various members of the commission were to see if they could find a company to contract the task of getting the voting machines in place, programming them, servicing them and storing them.
     Commissioner Millender said he had checked into other counties and a large portion of them use staff employees to handle this work.  
     Mayor Terri Carter was recognized and asked who Mr. Godwin reports to.  She spoke of the cost of getting a voting machine installed at the Repton polling place.  She said this was for municipal voting and involved having one machine set up in Repton, either 2 or 3 in Castleberry and 4 or 5 in Evergreen.  She stated Repton paid 1/3 of Mr. Godwin’s bill even though Repton did not get the number of machines that Castleberry and Evergreen received.  Commissioner Millender informed Mayor Carter that Mr. Godwin works for and represents the county in general elections, as to the municipal elections, the commission did not get involved.  Mr. Millender suggested Ms. Carter may want to discuss her situation with the Probate Judge.
     End note, Chairman McCreary assigned Commissioners Hildreth and Millender to work toward a solution on handling the voting machines and report on its next meeting.

     Mr. Thad House with Lyeffion VFD was next on the schedule but was unavailable.  He will be at the next work session to talk to the commission body.

     EMA Director Johnny Brock reported he had some checks to turn in totaling almost $1,000.00.  He said the Safety Audit had been completed.  He also told the commission that ACCA offers a safety inspection incentive discount if certain safety aspects are met.  There are a total of 9 requirements that must be met.  Some of the policies and procedures that must be addressed and adhered to are seat belt/cell phone policy when operating a county vehicle.  These are but 2 of the requirements that must be addressed with the reward from ACCA being workman’s comp increases for personnel and insurance payment decreases for vehicles.
     The auditor, Mr. True, suggested the county install cameras at the animal shelter.
     Mr. Brock informed the commission that, in the past, there have been some grant monies available from Homeland Security.  At this time, there will be no more grants this year.
     Mr. True also said the county needed to appoint safety coordination.  The commission took action and appointed Mr. Brock to the position of “Safety Coordinator.” 
     Mr. Brock spoke once more on evacuation training.  He told the commission he intended to work with the people in the Government Center to bring everyone up to speed on what is expected of them in the event of an emergency.

     County Engineer Foshee reported that the CDBG grant for the water extension from Brooklyn to Covington County line was available.  This is an 80-20% match.  The total amount of money available to complete this project is $420,000.00.  When asked if the water line would be able to tie into the Covington County water lines it was noted that Covington only has 3” line and the county will be running 6” line.  Perhaps with upgrades the water may be able to tie in.
     Mr. Foshee said the ATRIP projects for this year have all been accepted and funded.  County Roads 21, 30 and 15 will receive the much needed upgrades soon.  The total amount awarded for these projects is $525,000.00 and the contract has been awarded to Midsouth Paving.
     Mr. Foshee advised the commission that as he was putting together the cost packages for these ATRIP projects he had made a few mistakes and there may well be cost overruns on the matching funds needed but the cost should be minimal.

     County Administrator Judy Covan told the commission she had received a letter from Conecuh County Ambulance Service requesting the county to check into some form of finical assistance.  With the current number of indigent transports they have to make, the cost of fuel and vehicle upkeep, they will not be able to continue the quality of Ambulance service as in the past.  Furthermore, it seems a non-confirmed rumor about the Evergreen Hospital closing.  If this happens it will necessitate them driving additional miles to deliver patients plus having to purchase additional equipment and employ additional workers to provide coverage.  The commission is aware of the problem and is looking for a solution.
     Ms. Covan told the commissioners that a thank you from Sparta Academy for the commission’s participation of purchasing an advertisement in their football program had been received.  She also asked if the commission planned to purchase an ad for Hillcrest High Schools football program would be forthcoming.  Commissioner Hildreth made a motion to pay for an advertisement in the Hillcrest program also.  Approved by unanimous vote.
     Ms. Covan stated she was in receipt of a letter from Mr. Jim Allen, owner and publisher of “The Monthly View.”  Mr. Allen had spoken to the commission in the past about the county purchasing advertising with his newspaper.  He requested that today a vote be taken on his request.
     After discussion about the counties need for advertising and noting that Mr. Allen also maintains an active web site, a motion was made to purchase advertising with “The Monthly View.”  

     County Attorney Anthony Bishop told the commission he had been in negotiation with Franklin Primary Health Care’s attorney in an attempt to finalize a contract agreement dealing with the old Tri-County spaces.  The hang—up issues now center on insurance and major structural repairs.  Mr. Bishop indicated he feels an agreement will be forthcoming soon but there is one other problem that must be faced.
The federal government has a $360,000.00 lien against Tri-County with $210,000.00 centering on the building being discussed.   Mr. Bishop is unsure exactly what will happen with the lien but said he would continue working on the agreement.

     Chairman McCreary said he had attended a NACCO meeting recently.  He said while there he had become aware of a website that list grants available or coming available.  He said anyone interested he would gladly share the web address with them.  He also spoke on training and information he had received about economic development and county demographics.

There was no further business to be conducted and a motion to adjourn was approved at 10:38 AM


     Well, this election cycle brought some surprises to Conecuh County, most especially in the Sheriff’s race.  Incumbent Edwin Booker lost in a runoff election.  In fact he lost by a healthy margin, 513 votes.

     Lots of people have expressed pleasure in Sheriff Bookers defeat and talk has run rampant.

     Before going any further let me say that I did not support Mr. Booker in his re-election bid nor did I support him last time.  It was time for him to go.

     With that said let’s take a look at what Edwin Booker has been and has done.

     His first election to the position placed him in office in 1974.  Edwin Booker won every election from then until he opted not to run in 1994, a 20 year span as sheriff.

     After shying away for 2 election cycles Booker decided he would run for re-election and try it all again.  In fact I supported him in that first effort.  I can clearly recall him sitting here at the house on the couch talking with my wife and me for more than 1 ½ hours.  He won the sheriff’s office back and was actually put in office early when the incumbent sheriff suddenly decided to give it up and move away.  

     When Edwin talked to us for so long he plainly stated he only wanted the office “one more time” to straighten things out.  Well, at the end of that term Edwin announced he would seek re-election.  I had no real problem with Mr. Booker but his age factor and some of the ways he’d ran his office did concern me, besides, he’d plainly stated “one more term” during the last election cycle.

     Edwin won his re-election bid but all during his campaign he continually repeated the statement he just wanted it “one more time.”

     As we moved into this election cycle, Mr. Booker opted to run once more even though his health was obviously deteriorating as age was taking its toll.  Again he used the “one more time” statement in his election bid.

     I don’t consider Mr. Booker and I as having a bad relationship even though we’ve exchanged words on occasions, even going to the point where he kind of lost it with me in a local restaurant and said some despairing things to me and about me in public.  I even told Sheriff Booker that he needed to get out of that office and enjoy a little life with his spouse while he still could.  That suggestion fell on deaf ears.

     I’m not glad to see Mr. Booker go out in a defeated mode, for 28 years he was “The Sheriff” and did what he thought was best for the citizens of Conecuh County.

     I can truthfully say that on more than one occasion both my wife and I have had reason to call the sheriff’s department requesting help for whatever reason.  Never have our calls for help been ignored.  There was always a response with over 90% of them being the Sheriff himself coming.  Always the utmost seriousness applied to the situation with the Sheriff and his department working to resolve problems.

     Edwin Booker was an institution to Conecuh County, whether good or bad will be determined in the future.  I for one believe there is more good in him than bad.  I for one hope him the very best as he moves back into the civilian sector.

     My only wish is, time could be turned back and Edwin would have opted to leave the office under his own choosing and done so gracefully rather than have suffered a loss at the ballot box.

     Good, bad, indifferent Edwin Booker will be linked with Conecuh County forever.

     In closing let me say this; in all sincerity I want to thank Edwin Booker for what he’s done in the past and wish both his wife and him the very best as they seek to find their niche in life.

     Thank you Edwin and take care. 

James Leon Windham

City Council 15 July 2014
     Call to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 PM.  Invocation offered by Mr. Mike Lanier.  All members present for roll call.
     There were no visitors for the informal session.
     Council person Upton offered a motion to amend the agenda to include discussion on a one time pay bonus.  Motion to amend approved by unanimous vote.
     Under the Mayors remarks, Mayor Wolff announced the city had completed its audit with all areas looking to be well kept.  Recommendation by auditors that the city hire an accountant to manage the books considering the city is now handling the amount of money taken in.
     The review of accounts payable was approved by unanimous vote.  The income and expense report met with the same vote.
 Old Business:
     Bobby McNeil reported the property in Smithwood has been mowed and cleaned up.
     The house on South Main Street is being ignored again.  Attorney Hartley has received no response from the attorney representing the resident there and directed Mr. McNeil to take action as outlined in the city ordnance.
     Mr. McNeil advised the council that the area around the apartments on Magnolia had been bush-hogged.
     Mr. McNeil announced that a non-occupied house on Elizabeth Street has a pool in the back yard that is acting as a mosquito breeding ground and mold is forming in the pool.  He has notified the mortgage company.  Attorney Hartley advised him to give them an opportunity to respond and if then deemed necessary, take action and send bill.
     Council person Upton offered a motion the city approve a one-time bonus payment of $15,578.00 to be paid into the retirement system.  This money will be forwarded on to the retired employees at a rate of $2.00 per month of service.  This is not a continuing program; the retirees will receive the one payment from this action only.
Committee Reports:
     There were no committee reports.
New Business:
     The payment by vendor report was approved by unanimous vote.
     A cost overrun on the new police Tahoe’s in the amount of $5,623.04 was approved.
     Sewer Hauler’s Contract was to be presented by Superintendent Davis however he was unavailable.  Attorney Hartley said he had reviewed the contact and recommended the council approve it.  This deals with who will be allowed to dump refuse in the lagoons.
     Electrical Supervisor Adams brought a cost factor sheet dealing with the request for purchasing a Polaris ATV for use in upkeep on the right of way maintenance.  Mr. Adams described the primary and secondary uses for the ATV.  Motion to purchase met with unanimous approval.
     Mr. Adams also addressed a problem he is having with home/property owners dealing with keeping the power wire areas clean and clear of debris.  He stated numerous home/property owners were denying city employee’s access to clean/clear the area around the power lines.
     Motion was made to follow the auditors recommendation of employing an accountant.  Permission to advertise for the job was approved.

With no further business a motion to adjourn was offered and passed at 6:20 PM.

     Primary Run-Off Results July 2014

     The people have spoken and here are the results. 
Congratulations to all, political office is not for wimps.

Evergreen Advisory Board Meets

     The newly formed Evergreen Advisory Board met for the first time yesterday, 8 July 2014.  The meeting was held at the Depot and started at 6 PM.  There were 19 people on hand showing that this program may well develop into something worthwhile.

     Council person Upton chaired the newly formed committee and established certain ground rules for the meeting.  
Firstly each speaker was asked to limit their remarks to 5 minutes.  Their time was to be uninterrupted by others.
There were to be no personal attacks toward anyone.
Everyone knows problems exist, please try to respond with a solution too.

     With that said the program was launched.

     It seems everyone had come with a complaint but with very few solutions.  To me this was not an unexpected thing to occur.  Like all programs in their infancy, this one will develop and hopefully grow into a viable group with positive inputs and positive solutions.

     I’ll list the complaints first and then move into some of the areas where ideas came forward for possible help:
1. Utilities have skyrocketed and there is a large concern for the residents living on a fixed income.
2.  Concern for children ranked high on the totem pole.  A main complaint was, there’s nothing for the children to do and the old statement about idle hands and the Devil’s workshop came out.  
3.  Complaints about vehicles racing side by side on Martin Luther King Blvd. were voiced.  Normally a night time activity, offenders show no respect for stop signs or others that may be sharing the streets.  A general lack of respect for laws and law enforcement is prevalent.
4.  Drainage problems within the city, especially on Brunner avenue.
5.  The old abandon Magnolia Apartments project has become nothing more than an eyesore and a den for drug deals.
6.  One business owner asked to delay his remarks until moving toward the end.  He did state that a more positive business environment needed to be portrayed.
7.  Another business owner that was instrumental in starting this group made remarks about attempts to bring everyone together for the general betterment of the city.  He suggested all residents and citizens should have the goals of a better Evergreen in mind and attempt to help and advise the elected officials.  He addressed issued he deemed prevalent in other towns that promoted shoppers and citizens to use local facilities more such as the Andy Bucks program in Andalusia.
8.   Drugs and drug deals were a major topic and complaint.
9.   One citizen expressed concern that the large trees on Main Street seemed to be dying out and is interested in what may be causing this.  This citizen also remarked that planning groups such as this one normally started out with good ideas initially but then seemed to wither and die out.  They have hopes this will not be the same.

     Everyone had an opportunity to speak and at this point Mr. Upton resumed his role in this deliberative body by starting to respond to the questions raised.

     Mayor Wolff was on hand and was asked to respond to the higher utility bills.  The mayor stated the city had not gone up on their electric rates, that any increases in bills were the result of Alabama Power (they supply the city) and increases made by them.
     Some discussion matters on this subject were offered, one being the city or Southern Pine go to an income averaging situation whereby a nominal monthly electric bill could be put in place so a citizen living on a fixed income would know how much to program for expenditures per month.  Ms. Mary Skipper, City Clerk, was asked to respond to this suggestion.  Ms. Skipper stated she had already been in contact with Southern Pine in an attempt to establish just such a program and she was waiting for the supervisor of Southern Pine to respond.  It is anticipated he will make an appearance soon at a city council meeting and address this issue.

     The issue of establishing some activities for the children came to the forefront with the swimming pool at Carver being mentioned several times.  It was suggested the city start some type of program to teach children how to swim.  
     A strong recommendation that the city consider trying to establish a YMCA program in Evergreen was offered.  Examples of surrounding cities and their YMCA success programs was offered.

     The lawless factors of racing and loud noises in the wee hours of the morning was discussed further with no real resolution at hand.  A suggestion of having the police radios taken off the scanners so the lawbreakers would not be able to track law enforcement where-a-bouts was offered.  This would help law enforcement to be able to respond to calls without advertising their intentions.

     The situation with drainage problems was also addressed by Mayor Wolff.  He suggested the resident with the problems come by City Hall and fill out a complaint form so he could then assign someone to look into it.

     Mr. Jessie Lett spoke on the new business venture he is involved in.  He stated that as a black business owner, had the city not backed him it would have been virtually impossible to acquire the finances necessary to start.  Mr. Lett stated that most black businesses suffer a high failure rate and this is the reason it’s difficult to get start-up capital.  He went on to state that the skill level of local people is well under par.  He said it was difficult to communicate with the local younger population and it seems the education system had not been successful in teaching/training them.

     The meeting moved toward a wrap up and another meeting was scheduled to be held in 2 weeks.  Next meeting members are to bring both complaints and ideas on how to fix them.  Hopefully this group will not turn into what has been seen some much in the past.  One cannot come with all complaints, one must bring solutions and ideas to make Evergreen a better place.

     Next meeting, 22 July 2014 at 6 PM.  Be there to help create a better Evergreen so we can perhaps stop the bleeding off of our youth.

County IDB Organizational Meeting 7 July 2014

     The Conecuh County Industrial Development Board met at 1 PM on 7 July 2014 with County Attorney Anthony Bishop acting as chairman for this initial meeting.

     Mr. Bishop discussed items needing attention immediately.  Articles of Incorporation must be completed and approved by the commission body.  He also advised that by statue the IDB must have the following officers.  A chairman, vice-chairman, secretary and treasury.  The position of secretary/treasurer may be combined.  Those positions are not required to be members of the board but they have no voting rights.  Mr. Bishop did inform the members that there were Articles of Incorporation from a previous body from years back and these articles are in effect and will remain so until new ones are submitted and approved.

     He advised the members that the IDB is governed by the Alabama Open Meetings Law and all meetings must be open to the public.

     Mr. Bishop said that the past IDB had used the county administrator as the secretary and suggested this body consider the same provided Ms. Covan would accept the responsibility.  This would provide and ensure continuity at the meetings and have a repository for keeping the minutes.

     Mr. Bishop told the board that each district was allowed to appoint a person whose term would be five (5) years but the terms must be set up whereby each year there would be a new person or continuing appointment to the board.  He and Ms. Covan had determined by past records that district one (1) member would be appointed to a full five year term.  Each district, in numerical order would be eligible for a new appointment each year thereafter.
     Mr. Bishop told the members that he felt it was time for them to elect a chairperson to head up the group and move forward from there.  Ms. Pat Fowler nominated Dr. Don Smith district three (3), to be the chair, this was seconded by Mr. Charles Grant.  During the course of discussion Mr. Jimmy Taylor suggested the chair position be set on a rotational basis each year going by district number.  This is much as the county commission chairmanship had adopted and followed. 

     Doctor Smith received a unanimous vote to be the first chairperson took the position to preside over the remaining aspects of the meeting.  A motion was then made to adopt the suggested pattern of chair rotation offered by Mr. Taylor.  This motion carried by unanimous vote also.

     Discussion among the board and County Administrator Judy Covan resulted in Ms. Covan accepting the position of secretary.  Mr. Taylor posed the question asking if anyone had finical experience.  Ms. Fowler stated she worked for the Bank of Evergreen.  Mr. Grant made a motion Ms. Fowler be elected to the position of treasury.  This met with unanimous approval.

     After further discussion about the duties and task for the group it was determined the best direction they could move in would involve working on bylaws.  It was determined everyone had an email address and Doctor Smith suggested each member review the sample bylaws Mr. Bishop had furnished them with, correspond by email with the other members and reconvene at a new meeting for discussion and finalization of the bylaws.  New meeting set for Friday, 11 July 2014, at 10 AM.

     Prior to a motion to adjourn Ms. Booker to the commissioner on hand she appreciated the opportunity she and the other IDB members had been given in assisting Conecuh County to move forward.
     Motion to adjourn passed at 1:55 PM.

Special Call Commission Meeting 7 July 2014

     The Conecuh County Commission convened in a special call meeting at 10 AM, 7 July 2014 to discuss a lease proposal from Franklin Primary Health Center.  The meeting was held in the government center commission chambers.

     Call to order at 10 AM with prayer by Commissioner Hildreth followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.  Roll call showed all members present.

     Chairman McCreary requested a motion to approve the agenda which was done and properly seconded followed by a unanimous vote.

     Chairman McCreary introduced and recognized Mr. Charles White, CEO of Franklin Primary Health Care.

     Mr. White was on hand to talk once more with the commission about the renovation of the old Tri-County Medical staff building being converted into a workable clinic.  The facilities used for medical treatment in the past were horribly inadequate and totally unusable with no handicap access and a situation with sewer smell backing up on rainy days.  
     Mr. White had been before the commission several times with suggestions and recommendations on what and how to place the old staff building into a viable medical center for Franklin.  He had, on recommendation of the commission, an architect exam the building and established the work needing to be done as well as a cost factor.

     The primary stumbling block at this time was, who’s going to finance the project.  The county attorney and Mr. White’s attorney have been working on a lease agreement and are close to cementing a finale plan.  The commission had offered to allow Mr. White a $1.00 per year lease and his company covers the cost of the renovations, a total estimated cost of $160,000.00.  Mr. White had counter offered to the commission a five (5) year lease agreement whereby the lease payments would cover the cost of the repairs.

     During Mr. White’s report to the commissioners he emphasized that the federal grant monies he had received were not designed for building repairs or construction.  He told the commission body that, with the upgrade to the property, it would be a most ideal situation due to its location near the hospital and the items available there, i.e. X-rays, MRI’s, etc.

     Mr. White told the commissioners he could not secure a loan to do the necessary renovation simply because he did not own the building therefore no one would lend the money.  He offered to buy the building or, if the commission would, accept a donation of the building and then he would have the tools necessary for him to move forward.  He told the commissioners that it was not an unusual move for a governmental body to donate a facility for his corporations use.

     Mr. White told the commission that HSSA and the Federal Government had assigned certain time constraints to the grant award with one of them being his company be in operation within 120 days which equated to a 1 August date.  He readily admitted he would be unable to meet that time constraint now because of the inability to come to an agreement on the renovation of this building.  He informed the commission that should the county not agree to do this work he would be forced to seek an alternate building to house his medical facility.  He stated he is already going to be forced to request an extension on time from the government and, without some showing of headway toward acquiring a facility, the government would not approve any extension and he could lose the grant and not be able to bring the much needed medical care to the Evergreen area.

     The commission continued to question Mr. White about how many employees he expected to utilize at this facility.  He advised them he anticipated 5-6 people would be employed, a doctor, nurse, medical assistants and other staff.

     Another stigmatism attached to the controversy is a $356,000.00 Federal Lien against Tri-County centering on that building.  Mr. White explained that the lien was against Tri-County Medical and was not a lien the county bore any responsibility for.

     The commissioners were somewhat aware of the Board of Directors Tri-County had and asked Mr. White if his operation was similar.  He told the commission body that he had a 15 member BOD and a person from the Evergreen area would be placed on that board to ensure representation was available.  This board meets in Mobile on a monthly basis.

     The meeting continued on and on with a plethora of questions going well beyond the scope of what the meeting was about.  (My opinion).

     In fact at one time Chairman McCreary had to remind Commissioner Andrews of protocol procedures involving meetings.  He actually called him down for interrupting and interjecting statements without being recognized by the chair.  Just good manners.

     After approximately an hour of dialog Commissioner Millender expressed that the money being spent was to refurbish a county building and it was well within the authority of the commission body to approve these upgrades.  He went on to make a motion the county authorize and cover the cost of these repairs.  Commissioner Cook seconded the motion and a minor bit more discussion ensued.

     Finally Chairman McCreary called for the vote.  It appeared that everyone voted with the exception of Commissioner Andrews.  I asked if the motion had passed unanimously and, when questioned by the chair, Mr. Andrews evaded giving a direct answer as to how he voted.  I asked the chair to please call for a voice vote so I would know how to list the outcome in my report.  Finally Mr. Andrews acknowledged he voted in favor of the motion.

A motion for adjournment was approved at 11:07 AM.

City Council 1 July 2014


Call to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 P.M.  Invocation offered by Mr. Mike Lanier.


Roll call showed all members to be present.


Informal session:

     Ms. Harriet Hyde came before the group asking for help in stopping or controlling the loitering in “No Man’s Land” late at night.  Ms. Hyde pointed out Evergreen is in the process of making a comeback in business interest and she correctly pointed out that the crowds gathering in the late, late night and early, early morning hours is not the image we need to project to get new businesses and merchants in. 

     Ms. Hyde told the council about an incident that occurred on 21 June where someone wound up breaking the glass in her Studio 501 front door.  She told of a phone call she received from the Evergreen Police department asking her to come to the shop. 

     Ms. Hyde gave high praise to the EPD for their handling of the situation.  She did say she had to spend $500.00 out of pocket to replace the broken door.

     One of the council members asked if Evergreen had a curfew.  Ms. Hyde stated she did not know about Evergreen but both Monroeville and Andalusia had curfews in effect.

     This issue will be addressed at a future meeting.


Mayor’s Report:

     Mayor Wolff announced that mandatory drug screenings were coming back.  He asked for assistance in finding the most reasonably priced facility that could perform these checks.

     Mayor Wolff also announced Thursday, 3 July was the scheduled day for the Evergreen fireworks display at the Evergreen Ever Fun Park, everyone is invited.


Review of Accounts Payable…Approved by unanimous vote.


The minutes of the regular scheduled meeting 17 June 2014 and the minutes of the Special meeting of 23 June 2014 were approved by unanimous vote.


Old Business:

     Ms. Michelle Conway came before the council to announce the bids for the runway extension project of 1000 feet were to be let next week.  This is being done with grant money but the city does have to do a 10% match of funds.


Committee Reports:

     Council Person Skinner spoke of the city furnishing music in conjunction with the fireworks show.  Ms. Jonet Jones with Sagitarius Entertainment offered her company’s service for a fee of $150.00.  A motion was made for Saitarus Entertainment to furnish the music, seconded and passed by unanimous vote.


     Council Person Harris asked about the status of situation on Factory Street.  Attorney Hartley advised Ms. Harris and the council that he had already made two (2) appointments with the attorney representing the property owner and at both appointments, the attorney was a no show.  Mr. Hartley stated he was sending a letter immediately attempting to schedule one more appointment and, if the attorney did not show for it the city would proceed.


New Business:

     The closing of City Hall for 4 July was approved by unanimous vote.


     Ms. Ginger Caylor spoke to the council on using the park for a HIPPY Forestry program in August.  She said she would need to use the area around the cabin.  This request was approved by unanimous vote also.


     Resolution 2014-070101 dealing with forming a new bank account for Personal Services-Payroll Accounts was approved.


     City clerk training for 12 July and 27-29 August met with approval also.


Motion to adjourn made and passed at 6:20 PM.

Busy day on the phone today.  Please take note of the following:

For the city:
Tuesday, 31 June.  There will be a public hearing held at 5:45 PM, 15 minutes prior to the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

For the county:
There will be a special call meeting of the County Commission at 10 AM on 7 July to discuss lease agreements with Franklin Primary Health Care.

There will be a meeting of the County IDB board at 1 PM on 7 July.  This is an organizational meeting.

The regularly scheduled County Commission meeting that was scheduled for 14 July is delayed.  It is rescheduled for 17 July at 9 AM. 

Commission Spec. Mtg. 23 June 2014
     Call to order by Chairman McCreary at 4 PM.  Prayer offered by Reverend Jimmy Taylor.
     All commissioners on hand for roll call.  The agenda was approved by unanimous vote.
     It was announced the meeting was called for matters of commerce or trade and was lead off by Doc. John Johnson of Gateway Coastal.  Mr. Johnson announced that BIOTAP South was coming to Conecuh County.  An agreement in place showed there were 5 article contained within the agreement.  Article 1 contains definitions, #2 a list of approved incentives. 
     Articles 3 and 4 basically stated the commitment of the county to provide a site for the BIOTAP work force and other tax style incentives.  BIOTAP has a commitment to furnish 35 jobs for the first year and to have 75 jobs in place within 5 years.
     Mr. Scott Hoffman, a member of the Board of Directors of BIOTAP, spoke on the company’s excitement in coming to Evergreen.  He stated that the company was looking forward to employing as many local residents as possible.  The pay scale for non-salaried employees will be a minimum of $12.85 per hour. 
     The Conecuh location will be the hub area for 19 counties within Alabama and provides a place for processing and managing a variety of diagnostic laboratory analyses works.
     When the opportunity for questions offered itself Mr. Jim Allen, The Monthly View Newspaper, asked about any potential bio-hazards that might be coming into the county.  Mr. Hoffman assured Mr. Allen there were no dangers to the county from any of the materials that will be sent to them for analyses.
     A requirement to today’s meeting was the commission passes a project agreement resolution.  A motion was called for and made by Commissioner Millender and seconded by Commissioner Andrews.  Passed by unanimous vote.
     The Mayor and Evergreen City Councilmembers were also on hand and called a special meeting to order so they could also approve the tax abatement portion of the agreement.  This was put into motion format and passed by unanimous vote.

     I discussed the anticipated start-up date with Mr. Hoffman.  He hopes the company will be in position to do start-up in 60-90 days.

Evergreen City Council Meeting 17 June 2014

Meeting called to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 PM, invocation offered by Mr. Mike Lanier.

Roll call showed all council members present.

     Under the informal session Mr. Johnny Dees approached the council about using the airport for a bike show/ride to benefit the Quarter Back Club.  Event to last 1 day.  Attorney Hartley pointed out insurance must be purchased for that day.  Council approved by unanimous vote to allow Mr. Dees to use the airport on 2 August 2014.
     Mr. and Ms. Stanton, local residents, approached the council about getting re-imbursement for the cost of a cutter pump they had to replace with their sewer system.  They stated the city had initially installed this pump on their property and they had been told the city would assume responsibility for maintenance and upkeep.  Attorney Hartley stated that, according to Code of Alabama, it is illegal for the city to pay to have items such as this repaired/replaced on private property.  After discussion the Stanton’s left the chambers.
     Ms. Janelle Riley asked the city to ensure the impending “Fun Day” announcement gets posted on the marquee on Main Street.  She was assured it would be taken care of.
     It was announced the Conecuh-Old Town Black Belt Heritage Association is sponsoring a fund raising fish fry this Friday (20 June) at the Veterans Monument to start at 10:30 AM.

Mayor Wolff had no report or comments for this meeting.

review of accounts payable, income/expense report for May and the minutes of the previous meeting were all approved by unanimous vote.

Old Business:
     Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil reported that he had received several complaints about the Twilly property in Smithwood.  It seems no maintenance or housekeeping is being done and the grounds have become an “eyesore.”  Mr. McNeil said he had been unable to get the property owner to respond to any communications.  A motion was made that the city move on to the next step in the process of getting the area cleaned up.  Motion passed unanimously.
     Ms. Cara Stallman with Grant management, LLC presented 4 invoices for payment from the sewer grant awarded the city.  All monies will come from the grant.  Invoice payment was approved by unanimous vote.

Committee Reports:

     Council person Skinner advised the council that our Cal Ripken Baseball group has made it to the state championship levels.  These are our 12 and under youngsters.  The cost of sending them to represent us in these championship playoffs is around $3,500.00.  The city cannot contribute to this cause but a fund raiser has been undertaken to cover the cost.  In one day alone almost $2,000.00 has been raised.  If anyone cares to contribute they may do so by going by City Hall and making their donation.
     The Carver Roof replacement was also brought up at this time.  It was revealed that 2 bids for the job had been received.  After opening and reviewing the bids the job was awarded to Mr. Willie Holder.  Total cost to the city, $11,000.00. 

New Business:
     Payment by vendor report approved and signed for May.
     Fireworks contract for 3 July approved, rain date, 5 July.  Cost $4,975.00.  Approved.
     The Fire Department needs a new piece of equipment at a cost of approximately $10,000.00.  This money will come out of the fire fund.  Approved.
     Mr. Virgil Adams, Electrical Superintendent requests the city re-join the Electrical Cities of Alabama coalition.  This will provide a more rapid response in getting help in the event of storm damage.  The city had been a member but somehow it appears the renewal had fallen by the wayside.  Cost to the city, $1,900.00.  Passed unanimously.

Call for Executive Session to discuss matters of trade and commerce, pending litigation and good name and character was introduced.  Passed by unanimous vote.

Executive session starts 6:22 PM.
Executive session ends 7:05 PM.

Motion to adjourn approved unanimously.
Next meeting scheduled for 1 July 2014 6 PM. 

     The Conecuh-Old Town Black Belt Heritage Association is sponsoring a fish fry on Friday, 20 June.
     Both catfish and mullet will be available, your choice.  You get all the following; fish, potato salad, baked beans, bread, desert and drink, for $7.00.
Please come to the Veterans Monument, show your support for the Black Belt Heritage Association and enjoy a good meal.  Serving time starts at 10:30 AM.

Commission Meeting 9 June 2014

     Call to order at 9 AM by Chairman Andrews, invocation by Commissioner Millender followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

     Roll call revealed everyone present.  The agenda was approved as published.  Minutes for both the regular meeting of 27 May and the special call meeting of 30 May were approved as read.

     Payroll/personnel report showed no near hires or dismissals.  There were 118 ½ hours of overtime with the lions share going to District One with 54 hours and District 2 at 33 hours.

     Under claim approvals there were two claims over the limit in the general fund.  There were two invoices over the limit in the gasoline fund.  Unanimous vote to approve payment of all bills.

     Revenue Commissioner Jimmy Bell addressed the commission on the annual report he is required to provide each year.  A motion was made to accept the report and passed by unanimous vote.

     Mr. Raymond Bruce came before the commission body with a petition from the Indian Hills Community in Owassa requesting consideration be given to pave approximately ½ mile of road in that area.  Mr. Bruce brought three young people with him today so they could get a firsthand taste of government in action.  The commission is to take the consideration under advisement.

     Mr. Charles White with Franklin Primary Health Care came before the commission body to request they cover the cost of remodeling what is the current Tri-County Medical Administration building.  Mr. White desires turning this building into the Evergreen Health Clinic.  Mr. White was questioned about the hiring status of what are/were Tri-County employees.  Mr. White said he had a lead person in the Evergreen clinic and they were accepting applications.  He made no guarantees of keeping the current health care employees on the payroll.
     Commissioner Millender suggested the county attorney and Franklin’s attorney get together and come up with a proposal to cover the cost of the needed repairs/remodel.  This is to be completed ASAP.

     EMA Director Johnny Brock spoke of nearing completion of the safety requirements he was tasked with earlier.  He said there were only two more items to be done and he would be 100% complete.  These are a chainsaw safety course and a tornado/fire drill for the Government Center.  Mr. Brock attempted to establish a date and time to conduct the drill at the Government Center.  This is up for further discussion.  Based on input from county Engineer Foshee, the chainsaw course is coming soon.
     Mr. Brock said CPR/First Aid cards have been handed out to those completing those courses.  
     Mr. Brock asked the commission to consider keeping the old E911 vehicle instead of putting it on the Gov. Deals site.  After discussion it was determined the commission had voted to put it on after agreeing to purchase the new vehicle.

     County Engineer Foshee stated he had 2 invoices needing approval dealing with the CDBG water grant for the Brooklyn project.  They are for engineering group Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood and for grant writer/monitor Cara Stallman.  Total invoice $10,080.00.  These monies will come out of the grant.
     Almost all county vehicles are now equipped with fire extinguishers.  The few that are not now covered will be prior to the end of the week.
     Mr. Foshee suggested that a monthly safety meeting be conducted on the first Monday of each month at 7 AM in his office spaces.  This met with unanimous approval.
     Mr. Foshee asked that only one week of vacation be given this 4th of July time frame.  The county normally takes 2 weeks off but because of weather conditions as of late, only one week shutdown will be done this year.
     There will be bid openings in the engineer’s office on 20 June, this is dealing with the washed out bridge.

     County Administrator Covan advised the commission that insurance coverage for the newly formed IDB will cost the county $5,000.00 per year for the 5 members.
     School tax break for 1-3 August was approved by unanimous vote.
     Ms. Covan asked to the commission if they desired to take action on a one time retiree’s bonus as addressed by Mr. Billy Mims at the last meeting.  Motion made to approve followed by unanimous vote to approve.  Ms. Covan said this would be a $14,810.00 onetime expense.

     County Attorney Bishop had nothing for open meeting.

     Call for motion to go into executive session for matters of commerce or trade made and done.  Passed unanimously.

     Resumed regular meeting:

     Discussion on bond refinance issue presented by Mr. Walter Lewis at previous meeting discussed and decided to allow Benchmark to monitor interest rates and, should an adequate drop occur, Mr. Lewis will advise the commission.

     Chairman Andrews announced his time as chairman is up.  Commissioner McCreary will accept the chairman position at the next regular meeting.

     Motion to adjourn at 11:23 approved unanimously.

City Council 3 June 2014

     Call to order at 6 PM by Mayor Wolff.  Invocation by Mr. Mike Lanier.  Roll call showed all members present.

     There were no visitors for the informal session tonight however, Mr. & Ms. Stanton were there to talk about problems with their sewer pump.  Mayor Wolff spoke to them prior to calling the meeting to order and they agreed to return at the next meeting when Attorney Hartley will be on hand to advise of the legal standing of what the city can or cannot do.

     The agenda was approved as printed.

Mayor’s report and comments:
     Mayor Wolff reported the construction work in the cooperative district at exit 96 is coming along just fine.  That’s both the grocery store and Weaver’s Clothing.  Mayor Wolff also said there had been other inquiries from potential businesses coming in.
Review of Accounts Payable approved unanimously.

     The minutes of the previous meeting were approved by unanimous vote.

Old Business:
     Council person Skinner advised there was a problem with a citizens sewer system.  Mr. Skinner stated the city had poured concrete into an adjoining pipe and some of the concrete had spilled over into the resident’s sewer pipe creating a partial blockage.  Mr. Skinner asked if the city could correct this problem they created.  Mayor Wolff told Mr. Skinner action would be taken tomorrow.

     Council person Upton reported he and Mayor Wolff had met with Mr. Roger Webb.  Mr. Webb is the owner of approximately 39 Wendy franchises thought south Alabama.  He has expressed an interest in putting in a Wendy at exit 96.  If this goes through it should create between 20-40 jobs.

Committee Reports:
     Council person Upton stated a citizen had spoken to him about an electric meter being pulled and bad check notification.  Mr. Upton asked what was the length of time an individual had to make good on a bad check according to Alabama Law.  Attorney Ward will take for action.
     A question was asked about the newly approved citizen’s committee to act as advisors to the council.  It seems the committee is getting on track with some of the council members announcing their appointees.  There should be a meeting forthcoming soon.

New Business:
     A back to school tax holiday Is set for 1-3 August 2014.  Motion to accept passed unanimously.
     A resolution approving the changing of clerk duties from Ms. Becky Robinson to Ms. Mary Jackson Skipper was approved.  Swearing in ceremony will be tomorrow AM.

     Council person Skinner thanked Ms. Robinson for her service.

Motion to adjourn approved at 6:17 PM.

Commission Spc. Mtg. 30 May 14

     Meeting called to order at 9 AM by Chairman Andrews.  Prayer offered by Commissioner Hildreth followed by the pledge of Allegiance.
     The agenda consisted of one item; Environmental Impact Inspection for what is known as the old Poole Property on Ted Bates Road.  Agenda approved.
     Mr. John Johnson of Coastal Gateway was asked to lead off the discussion.  Mr. Johnson stated the property in question had been inspected by ADEM and had received a clean bill of health.  He went on to state that there were some buried fuel tanks on the property.  There has been no sign of leakage from these tanks but they are required to be monitored and checked by ADEM every 3 years.  Mr. Johnson went on to state a company out of Bay Minnette, PPM, could start an inspection on the area as early as Monday morning if the commission so desired.
     Commissioners McCreary and Millender have expressed that contamination checks of the property has not included a lot of area contained within the 20 acres and it was their concern that, should the county purchase this property without a full and complete check, the county could possible face extreme expense in the event of contamination and clean up.
     One of the prime items dealing with the inspection is the seller’s stance that they have furnished the county (perspective buyers) with all the paperwork necessary on their part to complete the sale and, should the county insist on moving forward with an inspection, it will be at county expense.  Current cost estimate is $2,900.00.
     Commissioner Millender stated that he did not feel it was the county’s responsibility to pay for this inspection, that it should be the responsibility of the seller if they are interested in selling the property.
     Several questions were asked about how in-depth an inspection PPM would do.  Primary concern seems to be that the inspection will be nothing more than a walk-through look at what’s on top of the ground and only if something is suspect will any further investigation take place.  Commissioner McCreary asked if the county could bring some type of digging equipment such as a backhoe so something other than the top of the ground could be examined.
     Remarks about truck cabs, tires and other items being buried on the property were discussed as prime points of possible contamination issues.
     Mr. Johnson stated that care should be taken as to how these issues were being discussed, that there could be the possibility of something of a slanderous nature toward the current owners construed.  County Attorney Bishop stated he did not think anything said to this time would rise to this point.
     Again the point of who should pay is brought to the forefront by Commissioner Millender.  He suggested that, should the county foot the bill for the inspection and something is discovered to be improper, the county should at least get its money back.
     A motion to accept the guidelines of PPM doing the inspection had been made early in the meeting by Commissioner Cook, 2nd by Commissioner Hildreth.  Commissioner Cook stated he felt that ample discussion had been achieved, therefore he “called for the question.”
     The motion passed by 3 ayes with Commissioners McCreary and Millender voting no.
     Commissioner McCreary then made a motion that the county has some type of earth moving machinery on hand for the inspection in the event an area may need digging into.  Mr. Johnson cautioned that it would be necessary to get permission from the owners before digging into their property.
     Commissioner McCreary’s motion passed by unanimous vote.
     Call to adjourn.
Post script:
     Everything seems to revolve around pleasing the sellers of this property.  It’s on the county to pay for contamination check, one must be cautious how they speak of items known to be buried on the property and finally, don’t move any dirt during your check so the possibility of finding anything wrong will be limited.
     I compare this to buying a house.  If you are the buyer do you feel it’s your responsibility to pay for a termite check?  It’s in your best interest but, if the seller truly wants to sell, they’re going to pay for that check, especially if they’re making a big profit. 
     What position does the county have in this instance?  Are we so desperate to buy this piece of property that we throw caution to the wind?  
     Research I’ve done show the current owners purchased this property roughly 2 years ago and it consisted of a 20 acre purchase for (round figures) $300,000.00.
     Although our governing body is holding back information from us as if this is the key to Fort Knox, it has slipped out that the sellers wish to retain 4 acres of the property from this purchase making it roughly 16 acres.  What is their selling price for this treasure?  $600,000.00.  
     So now the county is going to spend additional money to acquire this magnificent boon?  Just how long has that piece of land sat idle without any interest shown in it?  What shape are the buildings in?  I’ve heard rumors they have been stripped of anything of value inside.  
     I remember one of our commissioners presenting an impassioned speech to a church group a few months back about how an inbound business was the best thing since ice cream and then he swapped horses in mid-streaming and slammed the business as basically evil incarnate.  Guess who’s leading this headlong charge to Gotta Buy It Now?

Gotta Buy It Now

     Well, it appears we’re off to the races again with our county commission in a mad rush to spend money.  By all given appearances some of them are hell bent for leather to purchase the old Poole Truck Line property on Ted Bates Road.

     I’ve heard rumors that a special meeting is scheduled for Friday to push through this purchase.

     What do we know about this whole thing?  Not a lot and a great portion of it is speculation.  I don’t really like speculation but I don’t really like secret, behind closed doors deals, most especially ones that cost our tax payers dollars. 

     That property is, based on GIS information, almost 20 acres in size.  As I understand it, the sellers, S & S Properties of Alabama, LLC, plan to hold back 4 acres of the land.  S & S Properties was incorporated in January 2012 with the initial members consisting of Mr. Jason Smith of Andalusia as registered agent and Mr. Andrew Skipper of Evergreen as member.  In September of 2013 Mr. Skipper was removed from the corporation and Mr. John W. Tisdale, Jr. of Fort Walton Beach, Florida was added. 
    Again, as I understand it and please realize I’m doing something I don’t really like to do and that is make a statement that is not fully substantiated but because of the amount of money involved I believe the citizens need to know.

     It appears that S & S purchased this property roughly 2 years ago for (rounded figures) $300,000.00.  All information I can latch onto shows the selling price (rounded figures again) to be $600,000.00.  I for one find it difficult to believe that piece of land could double in price in that short of a period and not only that, its 4 acres short on land.  Basic figures show S & S purchased 20 acres for $15,000.00 per acre and our money conscience group is purchasing it for $37,500.00 per acre.

     What do we know about that property?  We know more than one trucking operation owned it at one time.  Has it been checked for any possible contamination?  I can’t seem to find anything more current than a 1994 report from ADEM.  There were some minor problems of no great importance but that was 20 years ago.  Is there a more recent inspection?  Should the property be contaminated the county will be on the hook for millions in clean up and probably never be able to use it.  If there is a more recent inspection and everything looks good, where is the paperwork?

     What shape are the buildings on the property in?  I’ve heard they have been stripped of all copper and other (valuable) fixtures and items.

     I know Mr. Smith and Mr. Tisdale were at the last county commission meeting and had a part in the called executive session.  I’m a little unsure whether this land purchase discussion would qualify for executive session but evidently it does in someone’s eyes.  Speaking of executive sessions sure seems as if we can’t get through a meeting without one.  Do I remember some of the now commissioners complaining about executive sessions when the previous commission was in office?
    I’m a little interested in why the mad rush to purchase this property.  Why the mad rush to pay twice as much for it as it originally sold for?  Who negotiated this deal?  Is there no oversight to be had?    
     I know the typical 3-2 block of commissioners will vote to make this thing come true but we the citizens need to ask our commissioners why the rush, why so much.  I don’t want to cast dispersions but is there some type hanky-panky going on with this?  Something about this whole deal does not pass the smell test.

Commission Work Session 27 May 2014

     Mr. Benton Harper Jr., County Maintenance department, was first on the schedule.  Mr. Harper talked about the bid for cleaning the exterior of the Government Center.  Total cost for the exterior cleaning part is $16,300.00, which works out to approximately $0.65 per foot.  This would be to pressure wash the sides.
     Some discussion came forth about the fact that is stucco material to be pressure washed and what happens if to much pressure is used.  It was finally determined the company had met all bid requirements which means they have insurance coverage so……
     It was further discussed about the cleaning of the gutters and resealing joints.  For this additional work to be done, the cost increases to a total of $23,510.00.

     Mr. Harper also stated the fence at the animal shelter will be up soon.  They need 6 post across the front and about 200 feet of top rail.  Hopefully it will be in this week.

     Greg Griffin, interim director of the now defunct Tri-County Medical approached the commission.  The discussion centered around the administrative spaces of Tri-County.  Griffin informed the commission that Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a government entity primarily helping and overseeing grant monies to companies such as Tri-County, had informed Tri-County that, due to improper bid actions in the construction of that building, they wanted $210,000.00 of grant money returned on it. 
     By all appearances there was only one bid solicited for the construction and it appears the company submitting the bid may have been related to the Tri-County Director at that time. 
     Some other items purchased from those grant funds are also being questioned as wrongful purchases bringing the total amount wanted back by the government to $356,000.00.
     Another health care company was awarded the annual grant money that normally came to Tri-County when Tri-County failed to properly submit and answer questions about the grant request.  The new company needs to gain access to the current administration building, refurbish it and turn it into a clinic for patients.  The old building next door used as a clinic building by Tri-County was found to be unacceptable by the new company.
     Basic response from the commission to Griffin, so sorry, so sad, not our problem.

     Mr. Jimmy Bell, Revenue Commissioner, came before the body requesting the current real property appraiser’s contract be extended for another year.  There is a person in training to take this position but they are not yet prepared.  
     Will be addressed during regular meeting.

     Security Chief Tony Harrison addressed the commission on an issue dealing with security cameras or a lack thereof.  Mr. Harrison advised the commission body that several areas, in his opinion, did not have security cameras and for safeties sake, needed some installed.  The commission body told Mr. Harrison to work up a list of where cameras were needed and submit for consideration.
     Work session ended at 4:55 PM.  Commission meeting to follow. 

Commission mtg. 27 May 2014

     Meeting called to order by Chairman Johnny Andrews at 5 PM.  Prayer offered by Commissioner David Cook, followed by the pledge of allegiance.

     All commissioners were present for roll call.

     The agenda and previous minutes were approved with no corrections.

     The payroll/personnel report reflected one separation from the jail department.  There were 88.25 hours of overtime.  Report approved.

     There was 1 claim over the limit in the general fund and 1 claim over the limit in the gasoline fund.  All claims were approved.  Minor discussion over claims from the sheriff.  A review by state examiners showed one claim was improperly signed by a non-county employee.  The examiner explained that there was a policy in place and it needed to be followed.

     City employees Jeff Sullivan and Brian Martin were on hand to give an update on the ball fields progress.  Things are moving along nicely.  The county advised that they would help with the asphalt that would be needed.

     Mr. Billy Mims advised the commission an opportunity for a one-time bonus for retired employees was in effect but action needed to be taken before the window of opportunity closed.  Commission will take under advisement.

     Sheriff Booker was on hand with deputy Carraway.  It was explained that recently (8 April) updates for Windows XP security were no longer available and procedures needed to be done to provide protection.  Carraway advised that a “key” was available and she had already installed it on three computers.  There is a cost to this fix and more computers are in need of the update.  A request was made that the county pick up the cost to purchase these “keys.”  Commission agreed to handle the cost.

     EMA Director Johnny Brock advised that a fuel spill had occurred last week and required cleanup efforts which are being taken care of.  
     Mr. Brock said the signature of the chairman was needed on some paperwork to ensure the cooperative agreement grant funds were available.  To date, $7,094 has been received.
     Mr. Brock advised he would be attending a conference in Prattville on 17, 18 and 19 June.

     County Engineer Foshee told the commission we are entering into the 3rd round of ATRIP projects which will include 24 miles of resurfacing on county road 6.  This is a share project with the county having to put in 20%.  Also, a resolution needed to be approved to move forward.  Motion to approve resolution made and passed.
     Mr. Foshee advised that 2 weeks ago the bad rain had washed out a bridge in district one on county road 54.  This road is now closed until the bridge is repaired.  Mr. Foshee asked for permission to bid out the job.  Permission granted.
     Mr. Foshee stated he had meet with Genesis, a trucking company involved in moving oil products in the county.  The heavy truck traffic is taking a toll on several of our roads.  Mr. Foshee has asked that those wells using the trucking method investigate and see if they could hook up on some of the oil pipelines running through the county.

     It was also discussed about individuals placing obstructions on highway right-of-way.  The primary obstruction being mailboxes encased in brick.  This is a hazard in the event someone hits it.  It appears that should an accident happen both the owner and the county will have liability issues in the event someone sues.  These obstructions will also interfere with and prevent getting ATRIP grants.  They are very strict in the fact that right-of-ways must be unobstructed.  
     It was discussed as to who should bear the cost of removal of these obstructions and the determination was, it was the responsibility of the person owning the mailbox.
     Folks, if you have something obstructing the right-of-way, be a champ and remove it so the county can continue to get those ATRIP funds and keep our roads in good shape.

     County Administrator Covan reminded the commission of items that came up during the work session to see if any action were to be taken on them.  The issue of the exterior cleaning of the court house was approved.  The property appraisers contract renewal was approved.  
     The CDBG for the water extension out C. R. 42 to Covington County is on track.
     Cameras for Government Center.  Provide camera placement and get prices for review.
     County Attorney Bishop addressed the Tri-County situation by re-stating that the grant money had been used illegally and there is a lien on the building.  Unsure if this would have any impact on Franklin Health Care moving in.

     Mr. Bishop then announced that everything else he had would be an item for executive session.

     Chairman Andrews called for a motion to go into executive session.  Motion approved at 6:10 PM.

     It appeared the executive session would be another marathon meeting so I left.

     I received a phone call update on what happened after executive session.
     I was told there were actually 4 different executive session covered.
     The first dealt with Benchmark Security.
     The second with Mr. Randy Rushton who represents an investment company.
     The third was with Mr.’s Tisdale and Smith, owners of the property known as the Old Poole Truck line area on Ted Bates Road.
     The fourth was with Mr. John Johnson of Coastal Gateway.

     The other items covered after the executive session was a vote to exercise a $1.00 lease option on 700 acres of land near the airport.  Not sure where we go from there but….

     It was announced the new E911 vehicle was in and had arrived in the counties name vice 911.  The commission voted to take all measures necessary to tag  and register the vehicle and turn it over to the E911 department.  They also declared the old vehicle surplus property and placed it on gov. deals for sale.

     Meeting adjourned.  Unsure of time but was around 8 PM timeframe.

                                 Memorial Day 2014

     Today, the 26th day of May, 2014, the Andrew G. Faulk, D. A. V. Chapter 72 gathered  to remember and celebrate the lives and sacrifices of those brave service members who gave their all that America might enjoy the rights and benefits we have.

     Thanks to Constable Hillary Harper and a Brother Mason, Robert Mayer, what seemed to be starting out as a disaster turned into a good thing.  Upon arriving at the ceremony site, naturally at the Veterans Monument, not one chair was to be seen, neither a podium nor table was around and some of the Red Hat ladies were starting to arrive.  What a dilemma in the making.  No way would the participants be able to survive standing for the program.  As stated above, Mr. Harper and Mr. Mayer took the bull by the horns and rounded up some chairs from a local church.  In conjunction with this, I called Councilman and fellow D. A. V. member Luther Upton and told him. Again a self-starter, Mr. Upton contacted our always friend and helper, Mr. David Thomas (Mookie) with the parks and recreation department.   Mr. Thomas arrived shortly with even more chairs to set up.  In one fail swoop, from disaster to sweet success.

     A special thank you to all involved in getting those accommodations to us, without that the program would have been shortened to something hardly meaningful.

     With that out of the way, folks began showing up and continued to come until we had a very nice crowd.  It’s a good thing to see people on this occasion, THEY REMEMBER what Memorial Day is about.

     There was a young man in Army uniform in the audience and he was invited forward to assist in posting the colors.  I know his last name was Bishop, or at least that’s what I remember from his name tag.  Whoever he was, God Bless him for his service and for his help.  

     CWO 3, USA (Ret.), Buddy M. Wilson from Montgomery was the guest speaker.  He bought a wonderful remembrance message which included a song about the birth of our great nation.

     As always, the  D. A. V. Chaplain, Reverend Michael Jackson was on hand to give the proper spiritual guidance needed and invoke the blessings of God.



     The casualty lists were read by D. A. V. members Lemon Jones, Luther Upton and Spencer Eugene Taylor.  We asked that should anyone hear the name of a relative read from the list to please stand.  We had two in attendance with relatives, Mr. Guy Johnson and Ms. Gloria Littles.  What an honor having them with us.  The legacy continues.

     A beautiful wreath, compliments of Cherries Blossoms and Blooms (as per usual) was laid at the center stone of the monument by the Purple Heart recipients of Conecuh County that were on hand. They were, Luther Upton, Ray Fleming, Mack Williams and Kenny Fountain.

     Ms. Jonet Jones of Sagitarius Entertainment provided the music for this years event AGAIN.  Thank you J. J.

     The elected officials on hand were recognized and consisted of, City Councilman Luther Upton, County Commissioner Ras McCreary, Board of Education member, Ms. Willene Whatley, Constable Hillary Harper and, although not an elected office, Castleberry Chief of Police, Tracy Hawsey was in attendance.  Thank you all for being there.

     Both Lee Peacock and Jim Allen were there with a camera, I’ll be mildly surprised if we don’t see some good pictures in our local papers.

     As with all good things, the ceremony came to an end and again we called upon the services of Reverend Jackson to dismiss us.

     May God Bless and keep us safe until we meet again next year.
    A grateful Thank You to all who came. 

Travel pay claimed by commissioners for April 2014.
Again, District 3 manages to get the most money.

Commission Meeting 12 May 2014

     I'm not going to be able to report very much about the meeting at this time.  I do have a recording and will be able to post more after I listen to it.
     I was out of town for this one doing something much more pleasant than sitting for 2 1/2 hours listening to some of these folks appreciate their own voice.
     I made a few phone calls and got the highlights of what transpired.  Seems the county now has it's own Industrial Development Board.  Seems as if there may have been some confusion in the commission body about what was going on. 
     Attorney Anthony Bishop made a report (as asked) about the IDB and appointments.  Seems a motion to appoint members was forthcoming virtually immediately.  Commissioners McCreary and Millender said they were under the impression membership on the board would not be made until after the attorney's report because they needed to hear what the attorney said prior to offering an appointment.
     When all the smoke cleared the motion to appoint passed on a 3-2 vote.  Commissioner Hildreth appointed Mr. Charles Grant, Commissioner Cook Ms. Patricia Fowler and Commissioner Andrews appointed Mr. Don Smith, recently resigned member of the Board of Education.  I understand Commissioners McCreary and Millender will make their appointments at the next meeting.
     These are 5 year appointments and once a person is put on the IDB they cannot be removed except by death or resignation.

     In another line of business it was voted to approve the refinancing of an old bond issue dealing with Guyoung Tech.  The original bond had been for 4.6 million.  The refinancing would get it to a lower interest rate saving approximately $120-130,000.00 in interest payments but the really big thing was it freed up $280,000.00 of monies left over from the old bond issue.  
     Both these savings will be divided in half with one portion going to the city and the other to the county.

     After I get my recording I'll be able to bring more if there's antything worthwhile. 
     Thanks for your patience and thanks for visiting Conecuh County News and Views.

Listed is an article relating to new names to be added to the Viet Nam Memorial.

As you scroll down, pay particular attention to Thomas Charles Littles.
That is one of Conecuh County's young men that gave his life in defense of his country.
He passed in 1971 as a result of wounds received in 1969, finally he gets the recognition he so richly deserves.


              Monthly Expense Report by District/Department

                  FEBRUARY TRAVEL PAY 2014


     Received the statements for January travel pay.  Chairman Johnny Andrews of District 3 continues to draw the largest amount of travel pay.  One item of interest to note, only 3 commissioners submitted travel pay request for the month.  


     Seems I remember a particular individual that accused the previous group of commissioners of spending all of the county's funds and wasting money.  In fact, as I remember it, that person was up at the Commission spaces on several occasions asking for reports of travel pay and other records.  This same person was going county wide telling everyone what terrible shape our county was in.  Well, let's do a little look back since that person is now a commissioner. 
     We'll start last Nov. and move forward.  I'm not going to try and list everything but will touch on the highlights.
   14 January:  Hired Harmon, Blackmon and Kilgore, P. C.'s to do reports the county administrator could cover with a few computer strokes.  Cost to the county, $23,000.00.
     11 February:  Bought 3 Tahoes for the Sheriff's department, $40,428.25 (Total to County, $121,284.75).  Sheriff Booker stated it would take approximately $3,000.00 more dollars to finish outfitting them.
     Approved the purchase of 7 new Dump Trucks.
     25 February:  Brush Guards for the 3 Tahoes, $2,050.00, 2 new Kenwood 110 watt radios, $1,858.00, cage partitions for Tahoes, $3,299.00, all approved.  Total bill $7,207.00
     8 April:  Sheriff Booker needs an additional $3,000.00 per car for lights/radios.
     22 April:  $10,000.00 to help Lyeffion water authority to pay for repair work.
     Received a bill for $144,742.84 for workmans comp overpayments to 2 long retired workers.
     24 June:  Voted to purchase a second motor grader for District 3.  Cost to County, $215,000.00.  Financed over 5 years.
     22 July:  Voted to allow County Engineer to order new trucks for the engineering department.  Cost fact unknown at this time.
     I wanted to post these expenditures to show people that a person running around the county telling everyone what bad shape the county was in from the previous administration could be blowing a touch of smoke.  If the county had been as bad off as they were stating, these guys are wizards at money management to be able to recover and do what they've done.
     As I stated once before, I don't think they've yet met a dollar they wouldn't like to spend.
     I told you all in another posting how they called in and made another police report on me.  I think it's becoming plain the reason why they do this. 
     I'd asked for certain PUBLIC RECORDS and I do believe it's making them nervous.  I'm going to put a couple of things on here that I've put together.  It's dealing with the amount of dirt WE are paying for and the amount of money it's costing us to get this fine representation.
Dirt Pit  The more money spent on dirt the better the odds are it's being diverted to personal use.  There goes your county funds.
     This represents the results of a monthly expense report the commissioners fill out.  The first amounts of money you see is the cost paid by the county for dirt hauled by that district for the month.  What this report can easily tell you is who's doing driveways and trailer pads.  Not exactly something legal.
     The next section shows monies paid to the commissioner of that district.
     The bottom line show a four month total of dirt and monies paid.  
     I'm real curious, perhaps District 3 Commissioner Andrews could explain why his dirt and payments are almost twice as much as the other Districts.
     I have the travel pay sheets for each Commissioner in each district but it would only bulk up the site if I put them on here.  If anyone is in need, I can furnish you with a copy of what I have.  I've only got three months of travel reports but here's how that shakes out.
Commissioner Travel Pay 1  
     I took the liberty of highlighting the most expensive cost to the county.  Again, it's Mr. Andrews who tops the charts.  Based on his travel expense sheet, if he fires his engine up, it cost us money.  We pay for every trip he make to Evergreen, in fact, there's two (2) trips from his home to Evergreen he claims in one day.  I do believe I may see some items in there that are not commissioner related business.  I know he went to that training that told him of the ethics part of his job. 
     I believe a commissioners pay is somewhere in the area of $21,000.00 per year.  How many of you have a job that pays $21,000.00 per year, oh yes, I almost forgot, the Chairman makes around $27,000.00 per year.  Do you receive travel pay to go to your job?   
     I just get sick and tired of hearing someone talk about how "bad" someone else is and how they are looking out for our well being.  I'll let the public be the judge of whether or not our well being is being looked out for.
     Just to throw one more thing in here, I'm going to post a copy of the request form that must be filled out to get PUBLIC DOCUMENTS.  I'll also post what the Code of Alabama says about that in the event anyone else wishes to get PUBLIC DOCUMENTS.
Public Documents Request Form County
      Please note the last sentence just above the colored area at the bottom.  I believe the Code of Alabama might just override that.
Section 36-12-40  Rights of citizens to inspect and copy public writings; exceptions.
Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. Provided however, registration and circulation records and information concerning the use of the public, public school or college and university libraries of this state shall be exempted from this section. Provided further, any parent of a minor child shall have the right to inspect the registration and circulation records of any school or public library that pertain to his or her child. Notwithstanding the foregoing, records concerning security plans, procedures, assessments, measures, or systems, and any other records relating to, or having an impact upon, the security or safety of persons, structures, facilities, or other infrastructures, including without limitation information concerning critical infrastructure (as defined at 42 U.S.C. §5195c(e) as amended) and critical energy infrastructure information (as defined at 18 C.F.R. §388.113(c)(1) as amended) the public disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be detrimental to the public safety or welfare, and records the disclosure of which would otherwise be detrimental to the best interests of the public shall be exempted from this section. Any public officer who receives a request for records that may appear to relate to critical infrastructure or critical energy infrastructure information, shall notify the owner of such infrastructure in writing of the request and provide the owner an opportunity to comment on the request and on the threats to public safety or welfare that could reasonably be expected from public disclosure on the records. 
Section 36-12-41  Public officers to provide certified copies of writings upon payment of fees therefor; admissibility in evidence of copies.
Every public officer having the custody of a public writing which a citizen has a right to inspect is bound to give him, on demand, a certified copy of it, on payment of the legal fees therefor, and such copy is admissible as evidence in like cases and with like effect as the original writing.
     Didn't see anywhere it said the Commission can deny access.
     I know it's a long read but I hope it helped everyone become more aware of what's going on in our county and who's taking advantage of the system.

Commissioners Travel Pay March 2014

Sorry it's taken so long but I think you will still find it interesting. 

If it wasn't so sad it would almost be funny.
4 of our 5 commissioners made trips outside the county and 1 of them actually made trips outside the state.
The only one that did not go outside the county managed to draw almost $350.00 from a little over 600 miles of travel.  
Virtually every day of the month we, the county tax payers, paid him to fire up his vehicle and come to Evergreen, some of those were just to attend meetings pertaining to the office he opted to run for.  I see no other elected official anywhere receiving travel pay just to go to their appointed place of work.
It should be quiet obvious who has the good of the county at heart and who's in it to make every penny they can. 

City Council Meeting 6 May 2014
Call to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 PM.
Opening prayer offered by Mr. Michael Lanier.
Roll call showed all members present.  This was followed by approval of the agenda.
Informal Session:
     Ms. Frances Floyd appeared during the visitor’s session.  Ms. Floyd advised the council she was there on behalf of the Conecuh County Black Belt Heritage Association.  Ms. Floyd told the council the county commission had agreed to recognize the first week in May as Conecuh’s Black Belt Heritage week.  She asked the council to do the same.  (Unanimously approved).
     Ms. Floyd also told the council that Friday, 9 May was to be a special day set aside for the people of our county to meet and share their heritage.  This meeting will occur at the Veterans Monument.  Everyone is welcome to come and anyone desiring to participate is welcome.  There will be tables set up for any displays.
    Under Mayor’s report and comments the mayor announced that something must be done on the roof at Carvers.  It was reviewed and agreed this had been an item of discussion at a previous meeting.  It was agreed to move forward with bids and repair.
     The mayor called on Mr. Lanier to give a report on how things are progressing with the Grocery Store.  Mr. Lanier stated the interior concrete slab has been poured.  Mr. Lanier also added framing was going up for Weaver’s clothing store.
     Mayor Wolff added that “Lil Caesar’s” Pizza place is scheduled to open on 15 April.
     Under review of accounts payable, Councilperson Miller had questions.  He was interested in how payments were being held out for new police vehicle yet the city had no new vehicles.  It was explained that the money was not going to pay for the ordered vehicle but was being placed in an escrow account to pay for them when they were received.  It was also noted the vehicles ordered are of high demand and that’s the reason they were not delivered.  Still waiting on the manufacture.
The income/expense report was approved as well as the previous minutes.
Old Business:
     Magnolia Apartments had been addressed in a public hearing prior to the meeting.  The only remarks made were from Attorney Hartley who expressed the city needed to give a 90 day stay allowing the new owner to come forward with his plans and cost to recover these apartments.  Motion to allow 90 day stay approved by unanimous vote.
     The maintenance or lack thereof on the Naval Aircraft at Middletown Field has come to a head.  The Naval Aviation Museum has notified the mayor and city that these aircraft were on loan to the city with the understanding they would be kept up in a manner to prevent embarrassment to both the Navy and the city.  Contained in this notification was a request for a scope of work plan as to how to properly restore these aircraft to include both paint and decals. 
     Mayor Wolff asked Councilperson Skinner if he could take a look at what needed to be done and furnish a cost estimate.  Discussion at next meeting.
Committee Reports:
     Councilperson Upton stated he had observed the splash pad in Brewton since the last council meeting.  He asked to city to consider installing one of these pads, provided he can negotiate with the Board of Education for property to put it on.  His suggested location is near the monument.
     Councilperson Skinner added he had spoken of trying to get one of these pads in the past for the park area. 
     After discussion it was determined a study be conducted in order to figure out cost, Mayor Wolff stated that, should the price be inexpensive enough, the possibility of putting a pad in both places may be possible.
     Superintendent Sullivan advised the council he had been working with EMA Director Johnny Brock dealing with the Hazard Mitigation Plan.  This would keep the city eligible for any money made available in the event of storm damages.
     Mr. Sullivan has also been working with Alabama Power and informed the council Alabama Power would be coming soon to present a check as a  payment for their partnership in the park.
     Economic Director Bobby Skipper asked the council to consider establishing an authority to act toward the park situation such as the group appointed to oversee the Liberty Hill project.  This authority would be able to cover financial situations concerning the park.  They would have the authority to issue debt to cover park associated cost.  After discussion, this proposal failed to gain any popularity.
New Business:
     Payment by Vendor Report approved by unanimous vote.
     Ken Funderburk with Merchants Capital Corporation was on hand to speak on refinancing a 2006 Conecuh Region Improvement Bond.  The original bond was issued as a part of the financing for Guyoung Tech.  Mr. Funderburk stated the original bond issue was for $4.3 million dollars at an interest rate of 4.19%.  He advised the council that he could get a refinance at 3.03%.  Should the council elect to accept this refinance, it will result in an overall savings of $120,000.00-130,000.00.
     The 2006 bond issue was a combined loan to both the county and the city so all figures mentioned for savings or refunds would be split between both entities.
There is $280,000.00 amount left over from the initial bond.  This money is in a very restrictive account as to how it can be spent.  With the refinance, it will also release this $280,000.00 to the city/county.
     This same issue must be presented to the county commission and they must agree to do the refinance.
     It was mentioned that the monies returned from the interest savings and the money in the escrow account could be used to pay down the debt or in some other manner.      Mayor Wolff said the primary intention, should the deal go through, was to pay off the outstanding debt owed on the Gerber building.  Please keep in mind any monies saved or returned must be shared with the county.
     Motion made and seconded to refinance.  Vote 4 Ayes, 1 Nay.  Councilperson Fountain objected.
     Mr. Bobby Skipper brought a recommendation that the council needs to update the city’s zoning map.  He had an example for their review.  He gave a strong recommendation to the council that each member should come by and review this plan, look for anything obviously wrong, needing change or adding items and be prepared to possibly take action at the next meeting.
     Mr. Brian Edwards came before the council asking them to approve the purchase of a 6” and 8” tap cutter.  This will assist in the use of the sewer camera and will be used to cut through obstructions preventing his camera from getting through.  This was approved but Mayor Wolff asked Mr. Edwards to shop a bit more and see if he could a lower price.
     Superintendent Jeff Sullivan asked the city to vote to approve a renewal of ADEM Permit 18-03 authorizing Evergreen to have an inert (C & D) landfill.  Cost of permit, $2,250.00.  Current permit expires June 18, 2014.  Approved by unanimous vote.
     Mr. Sullivan spoke next on the behalf of Superintendent Lasley.  Mr. Lasley is asking the city to approve the purchase of a new pressure washer.  The old one had accidentally been left on causing a fire inside the building it occupies.  The old pressure washer was destroyed and there was damage to the building.  Assessment of damage to the building is not yet completed.
     Mayor Wolff suggested the council authorize the purchase contingent upon the insurance claim. 
     Mr. Lasley sent a price of $5,400.00 for replacement cost.
     True Life Tattoo’s requested a business license from the city to open a tattoo parlor in Evergreen.  Approved by unanimous vote.
Motion to Adjourn

     Meeting adjourned at 6:58 PM      


     Meeting called to order at 5 PM by Chairman Andrews.  Commissioner Hildreth gave the invocation, followed by the pledge of allegiance.
     All were present for roll call.
     The agenda and past minutes were approved unanimously.

Payroll/Personnel Report:
     3 New hires, 2 in the sheriff’s department and 1 at the animal shelter.  1 person left the counties employee list.  There were 73.5 hours of overtime.  Sheriff’s department got the most with 44.5 hours.

Claim Approval:
     There was 1 claim over the limit in the general fund; there were no over the limit claims against the gasoline fund.  Approved

Ms. Frances Floyd Proclamation:
     A proclamation declaring the first week of May as Conecuh Black Belt Heritage Week, with Friday being declared a come together day.  Friday celebration to take place at the Evergreen-Conecuh Veterans Monument at 10 AM until 2 PM, weather permitting.  In the event of inclement weather, everything will shift to Hill Crest High School Auditorium.

County to form Industrial Development Board (IDB)
     The formation of a county IDB was mentioned at a previous meeting.  Attorney Bishop had done some research on it but many questions were still forwarded. 
     It was asked if 2 commissioners would volunteer to examine and look into the county forming a board.  Commissioners Cook and Millender volunteered and will report on their findings at the next meeting.  Attorney Bishop will continue to examine from the legal end.

EMA Director:
     Mr. Johnny Brock announced he had pending paperwork that needed the chair’s signature.  He said the hazard mitigation plan grant money of $27,000.00 had been received, along with the ATRC agreement to manage the plan.  A motion passed to allow the chair to sign the paperwork.  Mr. Brock said the EMA EMPG funds need a 50% match and signature.  This was also approved.
     Mr. Brock advised that the possibility of bad weather exist but the weather seems to be moving north of us.  Still, all should be cognizant of and aware of surroundings.

County Engineer Foshee was not available.

County Administrator’s Report:
     Ms. Judy Covan advised the commission that the 2nd meeting of May was to be on Monday, 26 May.  This is also Memorial Day and she suggested the meeting be postponed one day in keeping with past traditions.  Motion made and carried to move the meeting to 27 May.
     The contract for Lewis Pest Control to continue was approved.
     The Alabama Association of County Commissioners had forwarded a check for $22,393.00, a return for the counties participation in insurance funding with the association and the continued safety training conducted.
     Banking investors will be on hand 27 May at 5 P.M.
     Tomorrow, 29 May 2014, CPR training will be conducted at the engineering department.  This is mandatory training for all District crews.
     Ms. Covan mentioned Mr. Charles White’s Company, Franklin Primary Health Care, will be taking over as the new, local medical provider, a role held by Tri-County Medical Inc. until recently.
     She also spoke of Mr. Larry Harden, 5 Star Insurance Providers, being there.  She will coordinate with the work force to ensure that, should they want, an opportunity will be made available for them to speak to Mr. Harden.

Mr. Riley
     Resident of the China Community, Mr. Riley, came forth.  He spoke to the commission on the use of a voting house on his property.  He has owned this property for approximately 10 years and was told by the person selling it to him that the voting house was on his property.  Until now it has now been a problem to Mr. Riley and he has allowed the continued use of this property at no cost to the county.
     The situation has changed somewhat and Mr. Riley is planning on giving his daughter a portion of his land containing the voting house and he came forward asking the county to make arrangements to relocate the voting place.  He also request the county furnish him with a letter stating he has no responsibility for injury or accidents resulting in people voting at that voting house.
     A letter is being prepared to dissolve Mr. Riley from any blame resulting in the use of the voting house.  Also, movement underway to find a new place to vote.

County Attorney:
     Anthony Bishop came forward with requests to go into executive session to discuss 2 separate matters, one dealing with and IDB issue and another dealing with a bond issue containing someone’s good name and character.

Executive Session began at 5:45 PM.
I departed at 6:40 PM with them still in executive session.
I did make a follow up phone call and was told nothing more transpired.  Out of executive session and into


     The work session got underway at 3 PM with Mr. Charlie White, CEO of Franklin Primary Health Center, introducing himself and giving a brief outline of how he hopes to work in the health care field as his company replaces Tri County Medical Inc.
     Mr. White said he did not anticipate covering any areas north of Evergreen.  His current plans are to keep the Frisco City Uriah, Atmore, Evergreen and Brewton Clinics open.  This includes the dental clinic in Brewton.
     Mr. White stated he will be working hard to recruit doctors to our area and also, seeing if he can get some nurse practitioners to assist. 
     Mr. White spoke to the commissioners about the current clinic building on South Main.  He told the commission the building was terribly inadequate.  The hallways are much to narrow and will not accommodate a wheel chair.  A sewage smell permeates the air in the clinic.  Unsure if it’s something leaking internally or if it’s coming from the exterior, possibly from a septic tank.
     He said the administration building is a very nice building and he could set it up to function as a clinic for a period of time.  He said he will not have any use for all the room afforded in that building.
     Mr. White and the commissioners came to an understanding that he will have some of his contacts examine the old clinic building and give a cost estimate of what it will take to bring that building up to standards.
     He hopes to have Franklin Primary Care in place at 3 clinics by June with the others coming on line by July.
     Mr. White expressed a desire to use local contractors when available and he will be looking at retaining as much of the qualified staff of Tri County as possible.

     County Maintenance man Ben Harper was next to speak.  He was questioned about the progress of the fence at the animal shelter.  Mr. Harper reported he should have all needed material on hand.  He informed the commission the cost of renting an auger was $65.00 per day and for a saw, $45.00 per day plus the cost of any blades needed.
     Mr. Harper indicated that he expected to start work tomorrow, weather permitting.

     Larry Harden, representing 5 Star Life Insurance Company gave a short presentation on the cost of term life insurance offered by his company.  Ms. Covan will schedule an opportunity for any interested persons to speak with him.

     A discussion on ways to assist the Conecuh County Ambulance Service was next.  Bottom line to all this, Ms. Covan was tasked with contacting some of our local and adjoing counties to see how they help their ambulance services.

Mandatory Commissioner Training Courses
The following are required courses included in the 50-hours:

Course 1: “County Government and the Commissioner” provides information on the immediate needs and requirements of the newly elected county commissioner. It deals with such issues as the roles and responsibilities of the Commissioner, statutory requirements of the Commission and the Commissioner, the structure of county government, legal liability, roles of county constitutional officers, and resources available to the county commission.

Course 2: “Ethical and Legal Issues” acquaints the county commissioner with the significant ethical and legal requirements affecting the Commissioner. It reviews issues such as the open meeting requirements, conflict of interestthe ethics law and standards of ethical conduct, freedom of information requirements, etc.

Course 3: “Financial Administration” provides an understanding of both the revenue source andexpenditureobligations and processes that affect county government inAlabama. In addition, it gives an overview of the budgetary process and discusses the maintenance of budgetary expenditures and the role of the examiners in ensuring a sound financial system in the county.

Course 4: “Roads and Bridges” focuses on the issue of public works (roads, bridges, etc.), and current policies, practices, and ideas relevant to public works are examined. This course highlights the role of the commissioner in assuring a safe and effective bridge system and road network in the county.

Course 5: Elective – Typical offerings include: Personnel Administration in the County, Economic Development and Community Leadership, Community Relations and the Media, and Critical Laws and Statutes Affecting the County Commission.

City Council 15 April 2014

     Call to order at 6 PM by Mayor Wolff.  Invocation offered by Lee Peacock.

     One member missing, Council person Harris in Mobile with her brother who suffered a stroke.  Thoughts and prayers for Ms. Harris and her brother.

Informal Session:

     Mr. Michael Riley spoke during the informal session.  Mr. Riley was quite adamant the current IDB be held accountable for the monies spent and debt incurred from their last folly.  
     Mr. Riley said board had not acted in a proper manner or in good faith.  They did instead spend tax payer’s money in a frivolous manner and should be held accountable for their actions.
     Mr. Riley stated the IDB members should be relieved of duty and replaced.  He stated the IDB has too much latitude in their organization leaving no room for accountability.
     He said Mr. Etheridge, President of the IDB had approached the Conecuh County Commission on 14 April 2014 with a request for $90,000.00.  Mr. Riley stated he’d understood Mr. Etheridge was to have been at this meeting with a request for $90,000.00 from the city.
     Mr. Riley wanted to go on record that he was opposed to the city giving the IDB any monies, most especially without a change in the IDB and its leadership.
     Mr. Riley also questioned the Mayor on the status of the outstanding $175,000.00 loan made on the behalf of Evergreen Wood Products.  Mayor Wolff announced that the city attorney, county attorney, former DA Tommy Chapman and current DA Steve Wadlington had concluded it would be in everyone’s best interest to turn this over to the Attorney General.

     Mr. Tom Godwin asked items placed on the surplus property list.  He was interested in 24 chairs that had been on an earlier agenda and were supposed to have been put in the old firehouse storage.  Mr. Godwin was interested if these chairs might come up for local bids.
     Mayor Wolff said he did not recall anything about those chairs and suggested Mr. Godwin get more information on them to check their status.

     Mr. Nathan Strong, resident, complained about a dead tree near his residence but on city property.  Mr. Strong was concerned that this tree could easily get blown over or fall and could create a great deal of damage to local power lines, etc.  Mayor Wolff told Mr. Strong to come back in the morning and see any of the clerks up front, tell them the problem and fill out paperwork.  Mr. Strong said he’d done that same thing last year but would do it again.

Agenda:  Approved

Mayors Report & Comments:
     The Macskill Family has requested to use the airport area for a family reunion on 30 August.  Approved.

     Mayor Wolff recognized Ms. Terri Nobles who asked about acquiring a business licenses for some property across the road from the American Legion building.  It was determined this property was outside the city limits; therefore the council had no authority to issue any licenses for it.

Review of Accounts payable:  Council not ready to approve, will return to it.

Approve income/expense report for March:  Unanimous vote.

Approval of previous minutes:  unanimous

Old Business:

     Superintendent Jeff Sullivan provided the council pictures of an old trailer that had basically been buried under other stuff and just uncovered this past week.  Mr. Sullivan stated the trailer was in such shape it was only good for salvage and asked the council to declare it surplus property and allow it to be sold locally.  Approved.

     Mr. Sullivan reminded the council of their agreement to attempt to engage in a partnership program with some local entities on park projects.  He stated he had been in contact with Alabama Power who has agreed to join in partnership for the scoreboard at the park.  Alabama Power will help to the amount of $13,000.00.  

     Mr. Sullivan advised the council that he had investigated how to display the fact that Evergreen was now an Alabama Purple Heart City.  He has checked with ALADOT about placing signs on state roads and is waiting for approval and signs which may take a while. He said local city streets and/or roads can be declared Purple Heart roadways by act of council.

Committee Reports:

     Superintendent Sullivan gave a park construction update saying the roof is now complete, doors are operational, the windows for the concession stand and vinyl siding is ordered.  The contractor expects to be completed within 2 weeks.
     Councilperson Skinner has the paint color schemes, please get with him and help determine the color.

     Mr. Sullivan reported that he had investigated the possibility of paving the section of Factory Street going into the area Fairview Baptist Church had purchased for a cemetery and has determined that is private property therefore the city cannot pave it.  He also reported that all the clutter addressed at an earlier meeting has been moved with the exception of items moved from clean-up project by the city.

New Business:

     Payment by Vendor Report approved.

     Decision to continue working with Coastal Gateway’s Doctor Johnson approved.  The city’s Coastal Gateway contract expired approximately 1 year ago and it was decided to pay $1,000.00 per month to continue this relationship.

     Approval of Chief Simpson attending AACOP Conference in Orange Beach in July.

     Approval of new Electrical Superintendent Adams attending IMSA Traffic Signal training in June.

     Approval of closing City Hall being closed 18 April for Good Friday.

     Mayor Wolff recognized Mr. Mike Lanier, local businessman, and asked him how things were progressing on the Grocery Store.
     Mr. Lanier said he had been pouring concrete, the store is progressing and he will be setting forms tomorrow.

 Executive Session for good name and character:  6:33

Reconvened with motion to adjourn:  6:47.

Next meeting 6 May 2014.

Conecuh County Commission 14 April 2014

     Called to order at 9 AM by Chairman Andrews.  Invocation by Engineer Foshee followed by the pledge of allegiance.

     All members present at roll call.

     The agenda was approved as printed.

     The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

Payroll/Personnel Report:
     1 New hire in the sheriff’s department.  A total of 129.5 hours of overtime.  114 hours to the sheriff’s department.

Approve Claims:
     Under the General Fund there is 1 claim over $500.00 limit.

     Gasoline Fund had a total of 4 claims over the limit.

Black Belt Heritage:

     Ms. Francis Floyd requested the commission designate the 1st week in May as the designed Conecuh County Black Belt Heritage Week with Friday being declared Celebration Day.
     This would be a time for all Conecuh Countians to come together and celebrate the heritage of the families who settled and made this area grow.  Anyone may participate and all are encouraged to share parts of their family stories to include pictures, artifacts and other items.
     Motion made and passed by unanimous vote.

City of Evergreen IDB:

     Mr. Al Etheridge, current president of the IDB, came before the commission body to request money be given to the IDB to bail them out of the mess created with the last fiasco they participated in.  Mr. Etheridge spoke of the economic development factors facing the city and county and said Mr. Bobby Skipper was working with them.
     Local businessman Robby Bolton spoke up about the dealings of the IDB and how they did not let any work out in a bid process.  He also stated the Bobby Skipper name was one that came to light just a little too much and he felt should be someone primarily in the unemployment line.
     I was decided to hold any action on the IDB’s request and consider it more at the next meeting.

     Commissioner Rodney Hildreth brought forth a recommendation that the county establish an Industrial Development Board.
     After discussion and recommendations, it was determined to table Mr. Hildreth’s recommendation till the next meeting.

Solid Waste Management Plan:

     Every 10 years the counties solid waste management plan must be updated.  There have been several companies that have submitted plans and bids for this program.
     Mr. Don Smith, Repton resident, had been asked to look into different companies and bring forth recommendations.
     Mr. Smith stated he had looked into several different options and gave Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood his recommendation to continue in place.
     Motion made and passed by unanimous vote.

EMA Director:

     Mr. Johnny Brock, EMA Director reported that the severe weather hitting our area last week actually had a tornado in it that touched down near the hospital and created a path of destruction.  
     Mr. Brock said the safety vest previously discussed will cost the county $14.00 each and he suggested everyone have one.  Motion to purchase made and passed.
     The CPR classes requested by Engineer Foshee will be given on 29 April from 1-4 PM at the Mathew Davis City Fire Department.
     Mr. Brock had checks to cover the grant portion of some of the safe shelters already installed.  He also had some monies for grant writer Cara Stallman.

County Engineer’s Report:

     County Engineer Foshee said the work at the Hillcrest ball field was still going on.  It is being done on an overtime basis for the workers and the county equipment is used at no charge to the school.
     Mr. Foshee said he was almost complete on having fire extinguishers place with county vehicles.  He also advised that chain saw chaps were available in every truck.  Each worker has been issued a rain jacket.  
     Mr. Foshee discussed the old side cutter.  He stated the agreement was to use it along with the new one until March then sell it.  He said Covington County wished to buy it at a price of $45,000.00 or, if the commission wished, it could go on gov. deals.  After discussion it was decided to put the item on gov. deals and see what happened.
The commission took action to declare the old side cutter as surplus property.

County Administrator Report:

     The Government Center exterior cleaning bids sent out.  Motion to open bids at 9 AM on 7 May in commission chambers.
     Let bids on phone system.
     Recommendation from interview committee of Animal Shelter Supervisor and Chairman Andrews, Jonathan Hicks recommended for position.  Motion by Cook , 2nd by Hildreth, motion carried.
     The recent motion to get all clerks bonded can be done by blanket bond.  Amount of coverage to be determined.  Recommended Attorney Bishop review and recommends.
     Reminder Friday is a holiday and Government Center will be closed.

     Sheriff Booker authorized to do 2 temporary hires to fill the 2 open deputy slots he has.

County Attorney:

Executive Session “general reputation and character”:
     Discussion of executive session concluded the reason stated for the executive session did not meet the criteria for executive session.
     After hem-hawing around it came to light that money that was being turned into the animal shelter was not being turned into the county treasury but was instead, being diverted to the Conecuh County Humane Society.
     Chairman Andrews said that research showed there had never been any rules established as to what should happen to funds turned in to the CONECUH COUNTY Animal Shelter.  
     The concern was, at audit time how do you explain giving away county funds to a private entity?  (My opinion, desperate move to cover our butts).
Chairman Nothing

No comments from the media

Motion to adjourn:  11:15                So ends another marathon meeting.

Murder Creek Dam Follow Up From Corp of Engineers

     Amazingly I attended my very first Murder Creek Dam project on the 7th of April.

     I had already contacted the Corp of Engineers requesting information.  The very day following the meeting I received this email and found it to be interesting.

     Here is an email response from the Corp:

     If you'll recall in my report on the meeting some folks were a little upset about the engineering firm dragging their feet on getting reports done.
     The current administration has been in position since 2009, 5 years, attempting to get a job done that, based on the response of this letter should have been completed in 9 months to one year.
     It was made public at the meeting the engineering firm had been paid $44,200.00 during this phase.

     Just to let folks know, here's some figures that were on file at the Commission Office dealing with money expenditures from 2004-2009.  I really should have taken a look at other expenditures made during this phase.  With cost factors such as these we could be well behind the power curve getting any lake while others put pork on their table, in their bellies and in their wallets.

Why can't we get a Lake?  Could it be a matter of personal greed stopping the desires of the others.  Ain't nothing like "Me First."

Murder Creek Lake Project Meeting

7 April 2013
China School

     Meeting called to order at 6:15 PM by Chairman Carter.

Invocation by Mr. Evans.   A quorum was present.  Move was made to approve the minutes of the previous meeting of 2 February.

     Chairman Carter spoke on the previous meeting and announced the “Legislative Field Trip” discussed at the previous meeting was still not ready to be conducted.  Tabled till next meeting or later, as necessary.

     A progress report was given on the status of Phase II of the project.  It was discussed that the board did not feel the engineers serving with the current firm had put their best efforts forward.  It has been determined by the board chairman, after conversing with the engineering firm, that the engineering firm is now more focused and prepared to move forward.  They are also adding additional people to their team.

     Chairman Carter advised the members that, should Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood get back to her soon, there could be need for a special call meeting.  

     During a general question/answer format it was pointed out the primary mission of the lake is to provide for an increase in providing more farm area and hopefully, lead to the formation of a cooperative district.  Secondary mission is to provide for economic development and irrigation.

     Mr. Michael Riley spoke of his concerns that there would be insufficient participation in any attempt to have land owners revert from the current cash crop of trees and go back to crop farming.  

     Mr. Riley spoke of his previous dealings with the Corp of Engineers and advised the Management Area Authority group that he had found it necessary to hold their feet to the fire to make any head way with them.

     When asked, Chairman Carter and others acknowledged they had made contact with approximately 50 current land owners asking for their input in the proposals to go forward with the project.  Only two land owners stated they did not want the project to move forward.

Questions were asked about recreational users of the Lake after completion.  Currently hopes are high that the lake can be erected as a place for everyone to go and everyone would be welcome.  Some thoughts and plans are to have a couple of picnic style areas with bathroom facilities available.
     Some discussion of land owners rights came forth.  It seems there is a current idea in mind to hold a small portion of the “right of way” around the lake whereby users could have access to get out of their boats, stretch and recover some without facing trespassing charges.

     Mr. Riley expressed concern about the possibility of imposed higher taxes for local land owners.  In the current plans, current land owners will face no additional taxes of their own.  Their tax scale will be tied to that of other county residents.  The operative words to this are, “current land owners.”  The person who will get this break on taxes will be the person who owns land there when the lake project is accepted.  Any new land owners will be accessed at a higher tax rate and, any subsequent land owners will also be taxed at a higher rate.

     As of this date, Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood have been paid $44,200.00 for their work on Phase II to date.  There are no outstanding invoices at this time.


     At the previous meeting it was discussed about advertising the lake project by use of billboards.  Some research into this proposal showed it to not be effective at this time, the money for installation, upkeep and rent would outweigh the advantages.  A motion was made to not spend the money for billboard advertising at this time.  Motion carried by unanimous vote.

    The formation of a co-op district was also discussed at the previous meeting.  By general consensus, it was deemed sufficient progress had not been made to necessitate further discussion on this matter.

     There were no outstanding invoices to be paid.

     Motion to adjourn made at 7:18 PM.  Passed unanimously

     Heck of a note when one must go through the procedures I  did to hear that they've been indicted.
     I'm not even going to describe how I found out but word finally came to me from a reliable source today that the grand jury indicted me on the phony charges they heard.
     Finally I'll be able to see the statements against me.  Any bets as to how many are lies?  I sincerely hope those statements stand up to the recordings I've got.  I suppose it could be embarrassing for certain folks if they stretched the truth.  I already know them for what they are, others may now find out.
     Just as the illustrious Eddie Johns predicted, I'll be in court on 31 October for arraignment.  Rest assured the plea will be not guilty.
     I guess I'm "being" taught the lesson well about don't question the "Gods."
     Hardheaded as I am, expect more to hit this website in the future.  I've been too nice a guy and not let out everything I knew but that's about to change somewhat.
     I'm in a harsh mood this afternoon and it is probably best I stop this entry here.
     One thing about it, we should all be able to get a fair trail and if that fails, a fair appeal.  
     I mentioned once before, don't stand in front of the fan. 

Evergreen City Council 1 April 2014

     Meeting Called to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 PM.  Invocation offered by Mr. Mike Lanier.  All members present for roll call.

Informal Session:
     Reverend Agnes Green requested use of the airport to hold a tent revival.  This is pretty much an annual thing.  Requested approved by council.
     Hill Crest carnival is scheduled for 8-12 April 2014 and it is requested the city allow them to set up next to Fred’s.  Land owner has been contacted and agrees.  Approved by council.
     Reverend Ronald Fantroy of the Fairview Church of Christ spoke to the council about land his congregation had purchased on Factory Street and to be used as a final resting place primarily for his churches members as needed.  Mr. Fantroy described some of the trials and tribulations of his church in acquiring this property to include following a desire of the city to put up a chain link fence, no small feat for a church with limited members.
     Reverend Fantroy acknowledges the city owns property around and leading into the cemetery.  His concern is, the city has been using this property as a storage area for items moved from some of the places involved in the city wide cleanup project.  His chief complaint is the old, disabled and unsightly vehicles placed near the entrance of the cemetery.  That plus other rubbish and overflow items such as concrete, poles, etc. are lessening the thought and diginity of what Reverend Fantroy and his church envisioned for this place.  He request the city please make some effort to relocate the items left there.
     After a short discussion with the council members and Superintendent Sullivan Mayor Wolff assured the pastor the city will make due diligence to clean up the area.
     Ms. Miller addressed the council on several issues concerning the city park and safety of the girls baseball team.  The first item brought forth was the fact that the fields are not being kept up.  She stated she has been a coach for the girls team for quiet sometime and it is a constant struggle to get rocks off the fields.  She attributed several injuries to her ball players because of the rock issues.  She said the balls hit rocks on the field and bounce off in odd directions with no time for the players to correct their stance and protect themselves from injury.  She told of several occasions when a ricocheting ball has created bad situations.  The most recent she addressed was a ball hitting a rock then bouncing into the face of one of the players.  This player had to be transported for medical attention.
     Ms. Miller said she had made several complaints to Brian Martin, city employee and head of the little league ball playing for the area.
     Ms. Miller said she had looked into the work hours of Mr. David Thomas, city employee and head of the park and recreation area.  She said she thought the city might not be getting the best efforts of Mr. Thomas in his duties.  She went on to complain of dirty bathrooms, doors with no locks and several other issues.  She did have pictures to back up her points.
     She asked if there was a job description for Mr. Thomas and Mayor Wolff stated he had never seen a job description and did not know if one existed.
     Mayor Wolff suggested this be taken up in executive session because of the good name and character issue that seemed to be coming out.  Discuss halted at this time.

Mayor’s Report and Comments:
     Mayor Wolff reported he has received notice from Media Com of a pay increase in the immediate future.

Accounts Payable:
     Approved by unanimous vote.

Previous Meeting Minutes:
     Approved by unanimous vote.

Old Business:
     FEMA communication grant.  Mr. Thad House from the fire association came before the city council to inform them that a final determination has been made to go with Motorola Communications for the upgrade to county radio systems.  This is involving the $1,000,000.00 grant gotten for the county wide upgrade.
     Superintendent Jeff Sullivan addressed the council on the current status of the park concession stand and press box update.  Mr. Sullivan stated work is progressing at a good rate.  The exterior portion of the building is now in a stucco finish and looks good.  He stated the doors/hardware should be pretty much finished tomorrow (Wednesday, 2 April) and, by next Monday the roof should be on.
     Mr. Sullivan also informed the council of a change order need.  This change order deals with the windows on the concession stand and is needed for security reasons.  The windows are to be of a store front design.  Mr. Sullivan presented pictures from a building in Andalusia which showed how the security factor would work.  Total cost of the change, $3,377.00.  Approved.
     Mr. Sullivan advised the council it was time to consider what actions would be taken toward mosquito control for this season.  He stated bids could go out as early as next week if the council desired.  He produced a pre-bid assessment from Lewis Pest Control, the company who has acted as mosquito control for the past seasons.  Lewis Pest Control has submitted a quote for the control problem and the cost has not increased from last season.  Also, Lewis is the only pest control that has ever submitted a bid.  It was discussed briefly if the city could accept this contract agreement without having to go through the advertising/bid aspects.  The council agreed to conditionally accept the proposal pending research by Attorney Hartley to ensure they could legally accept it.
     Next Mr. Sullivan brought forth pictures of Pipkin Lane in Evergreen.  Pipkin Lane is a road branching off of Roland Dees Road and is in terrible condition with washouts, ruts and holes in it.  After discussion it was determined Pipkin Lane was a private drive and did not qualify for city upkeep.
     Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil gave his city clean up report.  He stated the house on Martin Street is still a work in progress but progress is being made.  He also remarked on both South and North Main Street abodes stating things are under control and moving forward.
     Mr. Brian Martin reported there had been one bid submitted for cemetery cleanup.  It was a continuation bid from the current company with no changes.  Move to accept bid was made and accepted.
     Superintendent Darrel Davis came forward requesting some movement be made on the SRF loan dealing with a large sewer upgrade.  This loan is in excess of $1,000,000.00 and to ensure it remains available, must be acted upon by 1 May.  A portion of the requirements are, a public hearing must be advertised and held.  After much discussion Attorney Hartley will re-address the cost factors again.  Mr. Hartley reported this loan, to the best of his knowledge, will put the city over the statutory debt limit allowed by law and, if so, will cause an automatic rejection of the loan.  Mr. Davis encouraged the council to consider this upgrade and stated he deemed it necessary to continue and maintain a safe sewer system for Evergreen.  
     Mayor Wolff said the city would consider avenues available to them to be able to move forward but if any action required an increase in sewer rates he would not allow it to move forward.

Committee Reports:
     Economic Development Director Bobby Skipper spoke of the impending utility upgrade and some measures that had been necessary to access what the city needed.  One item needed had been an inventory of the number of telephone poles in the city, who and what companies were attached to the city poles and what revenue the city was realizing from these hookups.  Mr. Skipper reported the original estimates on the number of poles had been extremely low.  It appears the city has roughly 3,200 poles in it.  Of those, AT&T are attached to approximately 1,700 of them.  Attorney Hartley advised the council that virtually all cities have agreements with companies who need these poles and a fee is paid.  This could and should be used as a negotiation tool for companies such as Media Com.  See what develops.

New Business:
     Mayor Wolff introduced and welcomed aboard the new electrical department supervisor, Virgil Adams.
     Superintendent Sullivan recommended a portion of Interstate Drive be barricaded and public access denied for safety reasons.  For many years Interstate Drive has suffered road and right of way loss due to erosion.  It has now gotten to the point nothing feasible can be done to save or repair the road and it is a definite hazard for vehicle traffic.  Mr. Sullivan described the efforts he has made in attempts to repair/save the road.  Mr. Sullivan publicly thanked the efforts of County Engineer Winston Foshee in consulting with him.
     The council voted to barricade the road.  It will cause an inconvenience for some residents to get home but in the long run safety must come first.
     The leads online control program renewal was approved.  Cost $2,128.00.  This program provides for accountability of items being scraped and helps deter theft.
     Council person Upton brought forth a recommended proclamation to declare Evergreen a Purple Heart City.  There are only a few Alabama Cities that have declared themselves Purple Heart Cities and this is an opportunity for Evergreen to get in on “the ground floor” by making do this.  Passed by unanimous vote.
     It was approved for Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil to attend COAA Education Conference 12-15 May at a cost of $220.00 registration fee and hotel cost.
     Mayor Wolff noted the Windows XP program will not be supported beyond 8 April.  The city has 16 total computers with the XP program.  It was approved to replace these computers at a cost of approximately $7,600.00.
     Mr. Sullivan announced Mr. Jack Rowe, urban forestry and a recent guest at a city council meeting, has scheduled three training seminars to be held in Evergreen. 
Executive Session:
     Move to go into executive session to discuss good name and character approved.
Start: 7:15 PM

Reconvene regular session 7:48 PM
Motion to adjourn 7:48 PM.  Approved.

                COMMISSION WORK SESSION 24 MAR 2014
      Conecuh County Commission called a work session to order at 4 PM today, Monday, 24 March 2014.
     The Conecuh County Fire Association led off the agenda with Mr. Thad House speaking.  Mr. House informed the commission the radio upgrade project was in place and basically ready to roll. 
     There had been 2 companies respond to request for cost.  Mr. House said the consensus of the Fire Association was to go with the Motorola proposal.  He said maintenance, dependability and ease of support were the main reasons Motorola had been chosen.
     Mr. House advised the commission the overall cost was $28,125.00 above the grant amount.  The total number of units available for the stated price will be 225 portables and 65 mobile units. 
     Mr. House recommended the commission put a service agreement in place to cover the upkeep of these units.
     Mr. Winston Foshee addressed the commission dealing with passing a resolution to expand the Evergreen/Conecuh Capital Association Improvement area to include current and future businesses at the I-65, Exit 93 area to be known as the Fairview project.  It was noted should this measure pass there would be a $.0195 “user fee” added to products sold at businesses there.  It was emphasis this was not a tax but a “user fee.”  (Call it what you want, you get the picture).
     This will be considered at the regular meeting.
     Chairman Johnny Andrews spoke of the Repton request for $125,000.00 to complete the Repton beautification project and other issues.  The commission body had requested an Attorney General opinion on whether or not this could be done.  The AG acknowledged it was not illegal.  Mr. Andrews stated he had spoken to the AG personally and, based on his recommendation, it was suggested this information be published in the local paper at least 7 days before it was to be voted on.
     This is to be on the agenda for the regular meeting also.
     The fencing for the animal shelter was next.  It was noted a self-installation project had been suggested 4 weeks ago.  It was debated shortly about putting the fencing back up for bids.  Ms. Covan had cost estimates from the maintenance department totaling $6,843.21 for material only.  It was noted the cost for the inside runs was to be $1,720.00.  Total investment for the county, $8,563.21. 
     Humane Society member John Crutchfield was in the audience and stated he would put the fence up himself after he finished his corn planting.  To be addressed in regular meeting.
     Critique to be used for the paving of dirt roads was brought forth again by County Engineer Winston Foshee.  It was discussed briefly again.  Mr. Foshee said cost would be approximately $60,000.00 per mile.  This is not to bring the road to high standards, this is to pave the road.
     Ms. Covan, County Administrator, advised the commission the solid waste management plan was due a revision.  This occurs every 10 years.
     Ms. Covan stated she had received 3 proposals.
     Due to time constraints, Chairman Andrews suggested tabling this issue considering it was not of a time sensitive nature.

     Work Session adjourned at 4:50 PM.

Conecuh E911 Meeting 10 March 2014
Called to order at 11:05 AM by Chairman Andrews.
Roll call showed all members present.
The agenda and previous minutes were approved.
     Ms. Booker, E911 director reported that previous problems with the gate and a roof leak have been repaired.
     Ms. Booker advised the commission that April was E911 education month.  She will be going to our schools and speaking to the children on safety issues.  She stated she had planned to purchase some handouts to enhance her presentation but discovered it was cost prohibitive.
     The third week of April is telecommunication week.  
     She anticipates the Rotary Club to recognize dispatchers.  
     She encouraged the commissioners to come by E911 and voice appreciation to the working staff.
     Ms. Booker said she needed a P. O. or some other authorized payment method for the vehicle she and Ms. Covan decided on as the new 911 Directors transportation.
A motion to purchase this vehicle met with unanimous approval.
     Ms. Booker said there was an April Conference scheduled for 22-24 March.  She said she had called and one board member was already scheduled to go.  She was curious who it was.  Mr. Larry Ryland, advisory board member, stated he had contacted them and set himself up to attend.
     Director Booker informed the commission she had a complaint from her dispatcher.  It seems there is a radio on a band that cannot be understood.  Chief Simpson stated that since going to the narrowband radio frequency there had been some major radio problems.  This was an advisory action to make the commissioners aware.
Attorney Antony Bishop advised the commission they needed an executive session to discuss the good name and character of an individual.
Reconvened in regular session.
     Commission to appoint members deemed necessary to continue the 911 board.  Chief Simpson remains on the board.
     Larry Ryland not re-appointed to the board.  Letter from attorney to be sent informing him.
     Ms. Covan advised the board she had an invoice from Mr. Ryland in the amount of $130.00.  Approved by unanimous vote.
Meeting Adjourned at 12:00 PM.

Evergreen City Council 4 March 2014


     Meeting called to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 PM.  Mr. Mike Lanier rendered the invocation.  All members were present for roll call.

Mayor Wolff recognized the visitors for the informal session. 

     A possible offer of the old Dura med Property being gifted to the city was made.  Mayor Wolff asked Attorney Hartley what procedures needed to be followed to make this a reality.  Mr. Hartley advised the mayor and council of the procedures necessary to "Gift Deed" the property.  After the explanation a motion was made to accept the offer and commence the paperwork needed to acquire this property.

     Local business owner Mr. Michael Riley was recognized next.  Mr. Riley had several questions for the mayor and council.  Bottom line to a great majority of this is, Mr. Riley is not pleased with the current representation from the elected body.  He questioned several items as to who was the responsible party to either make these things happen or to be held accountable for wrongdoings.
      Mr. Riley questioned the actions of the IDB board, who they report to, where does their funding come from and how are they held accountable.  Attorney Hartley advised Mr. Riley that the IDB group can be taken to court if it is perceived they have conducted themselves wrongfully.
     Mr. Riley also expressed strong feelings as to how he felt it was wrong for  Economic Director Bobby Skipper to engage with other cities to bring business and industry to them while on the Evergreen city payroll.

      The Agenda was approved by unanimous vote as was the review of accounts payable and the minutes from the previous (18 February 2014) meeting.


Mayor’s Comments:

     Mayor Wolff said he had been in all the discussions about Evergreen Wood Products that he wanted.  He said his intentions, after legal consultation, was to turn everything over to the office of the District Attorney.He desires that IDB Attorney Richard Nix, County Attorney Anthony Bishop and City Prosecutor Tommy Chapman confer with the D. A.’s office to see if any criminal laws were broken and if any action can be taken.

Old Business:

  1.  Superintendent Sullivan gave a report on the progress of the park concession stand and wiring.  Everything is coming together now.
  2.  Mr. Sullivan also gave a report from the Estimating Committee for the cost associated with the park construction.  At this time it appears the overall cost to get to the completion, ball playing ready, will be $1,049, 261.00.  He also stated the committee had contacted the Conecuh County Commission and Alabama Power asking for monetary support for this project.  He indicated it had been well received by both of these parties and he anticipates fiscal assistance to be forthcoming.
  3.  Mr. Brian Martin addressed the council on re-bidding the contract for cemetery maintenance and upkeep.  The council approved permission to go forward in the bid process.
  4. Mr. Bobby McNeil, Compliance Officer, gave an update as to the responses received from his certified mail outs.  He said Mr. David Robinson; owner of some property on South Main Street will start clean-up.  Mr. McNeil said he’d had no response from the owner of the North Main property but the certified receipt had been returned.  Council person Upton told Mr. McNeil that one of the houses involved had recently been purchased and the new owner had contacted him to advise him they would start clean up right away.
  5.   Mr. McNeil addressed the residential ordinance dealing with mobile homes and asked for help in clarifying it.  He stated several residents have come to him about putting a mobile home on city property.  Mr. McNeil said areas zoned R-1 and R-2 cannot have trailers in them.  Currently only two mobile home park areas are authorized and they are on North Main.    

Committee Reports:

     Superintendent Sullivan advised of a problem with the Navy hangar at the airport.  A contract exist with the Navy that the City of Evergreen will furnish and maintain a hangar for them.  The current hangar, due to several reasons with age being a primary, has numerous holes in the roof.  This has not equated to a problem yet but he wanted to make sure the council was aware.

     Economic Director Bobby Skipper made mention of the impending radio read meters and software for the city.  He said currently they are waiting on the engineer to complete the meter count so they will be able to determine how many meters are needed and what the cost will be.  This also led into a discussion about charging pole fees for the city.  The last agreement and the one the city is currently being paid under dates back to the early 1900’s.  Currently the city is only collecting $.50 per pole while most other cities have a rate several times this amount.  Upon completion of the engineers meter county the city will be able to establish how many poles they actually have and re-negotiate pole payments.

New Business:

  1.  Mr. Jack Rowe with AL Tombigbee Resource Conservation and Development Programs was introduced.  Mr. Rowe is an urban forester.  Mr. Rowe spoke briefly of his work and responsibilities to the city.
  2. Next item on the agenda was the approval of the renewal of the Urban Forestry Annual Dues of $3,000.00.  This was approved by unanimous vote.
  3. The council selected Mayor Wolff to be their voting delegate at the annual convention business meeting.
  4. An ABC licenses was approved for the 83 Quick Stop.
  5. Mr. Paul Darnell with DMD engineers brought forth a request to approve resolution #2014-030401 dealing with $1,955,000.00 loan for sewer upgrades.  If this loan is administrated by ADEM it can be had for a 2.45% finance rate.  Action on this was tabled until next meeting.
  6. A travel expense of $21.00 for Officer Adam Hawsey was approved.
  7. A resolution to deal with surplus property of the water department was approved.
  8. Mr. Bobby Skipper brought forth a resolution authorizing the Evergreen-Conecuh Capital Improvement Cooperative District to amend the project area to include I-65 Exit 93.  Approved.
  9. The Moore Means More Scholarship Foundation 5K event for July 25-27 was approved.
  10.  An easement for an existing road in the airport area was approved as per Navy request.

No further business, meeting adjourned 7 PM.
Next meeting 18 March 2014 at 6 PM.

               Code of Alabama and Executive Sessions
                                  Your $175,000.00 

     Just a few short months ago I recall certain people complaining about commission meetings and executive sessions and their feelings that executive sessions were not needed.  Seems some of these same people now in a position of authority can hardly wait to call an executive session, getting so fast at it they don't even take time out to find out if they are conforming to both State Law and Roberts Rules of Order.
     Based on Code of Alabama, executive session is not required to discuss the attorney's salary.  Furthermore, the chair should announce specifically what issues are to be discussed in executive session and the estimated time of completion.
     In my determination, executive session was wrongly called for in this instance, there was no announcement made as to estimated time of completion and the first item out of the box on return to regular session had never been mentioned as a topic for discussion in executive session.  A call for a motion to provide medical services.  Who, what, why, where?  No idea.
     My how we complained when others did it in a proper manner, now we ignore any sense of propriety and in no shape, comply with the rules.

     I'll post the code on executive session in a moment but first some observations on YOUR $175,000.00 that should have been paid back on 1 January. 
     Folks, I've made 2 mentions of it and each time it was pointed out that there was no money given to Evergreen Wood Products (EWP) but was given to the Industrial Development Board who deemed EWP a great company to pin our hopes and money into.  I even asked one of the IDB members if they had enough confidence in EWP that they would risk their house for them.  Well, I haven't seen any houses going up for sale and I haven't seen any payback on the loan.
     I'm sorry to tell you your money is gone.  If it's just ignored it will go away.  When I asked about the funds last night it was easy to look around the room at the grins and smiles to know it was being sweep under the rug.
     Fortunately we are operating in a time of plenty with oil revenues being received in record amounts and we can recover from this lack of elected stupidity without costing us to terribly much.  Imagine what would've happened without the oil revenues.  Yes, we are operating in a time of plenty but let's not squander it with bad business decisions controlled by our elected officials.  One day that oil may be gone.
     Drive 50 miles south and ask Jay, Florida.

With that said, here's the Code of Alabama and Executive Sessions:

ALA CODE § 36-25A-7 : Alabama Code - Section 36-25A-7: EXECUTIVE SESSIONS
(a) Executive sessions are not required by this chapter, but may be held by a governmental body only for the following purposes:
(1) To discuss the general reputation and character, physical condition, professional competence, or mental health of individuals, or, subject to the limitations set out herein, to discuss the job performance of certain public employees. However, except as provided elsewhere in this section, discussions of the job performance of specific public officials or specific public employees may not be discussed in executive session if the person is an elected or appointed public official, an appointed member of a state or local board or commission, or a public employee who is one of the classification of public employees required to file a statement of economic interests with the Alabama Ethics Commission pursuant to Section 36-25-14. Except as provided elsewhere in this section, the salary, compensation, and job benefits of specific public officials or specific public employees may not be discussed in executive session.
(2) When expressly allowed by federal law or state law, to consider the discipline or dismissal of, or to hear formal written complaints or charges brought against a public employee, a student at a public school or college, or an individual, corporation, partnership, or other legal entity subject to the regulation of the governmental body.
(3) To discuss with their attorney the legal ramifications of and legal options for pending litigation, controversies not yet being litigated but imminently likely to be litigated or imminently likely to be litigated if the governmental body pursues a proposed course of action, or to meet or confer with a mediator or arbitrator with respect to any litigation or decision concerning matters within the jurisdiction of the governmental body involving another party, group, or body. Prior to voting to convene an executive session under this exception the governmental body shall receive a written opinion or oral declaration reflected in the minutes from an attorney licensed to practice law in Alabama that this exception is applicable to the planned discussion. Such declaration shall not otherwise constitute a waiver of the attorney-client privilege. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if any deliberation begins among the members of the governmental body regarding what action to take relating to pending or threatened litigation based upon the advice of counsel, the executive session shall be concluded and the deliberation shall be conducted in the open portion of the meeting or the deliberation shall cease.
(4) To discuss security plans, procedures, assessments, measures, or systems, or the security or safety of persons, structures, facilities, or other infrastructures, including, without limitation, information concerning critical infrastructure, as defined by federal law, and critical energy infrastructure information, as defined by federal law, the public disclosures of which could reasonably be expected to be detrimental to public safety or welfare. Provided, however, that when the discussion involves critical infrastructure or critical energy infrastructure information, the owners and operators of such infrastructure shall be given notice and an opportunity to attend the session.
(5) To discuss information that would disclose the identity of an undercover law enforcement agent or informer or to discuss the criminal investigation of a person who is not a public official in which allegations or charges of specific criminal misconduct have been made or to discuss whether or not to file a criminal complaint. Provided, however, that prior to such discussions a law enforcement officer with authority to make an arrest or a district or assistant district attorney or the Attorney General or assistant attorney general shall advise the governmental body in writing or by oral declaration entered into the minutes that the discussions would imperil effective law enforcement if disclosed outside of an executive session.
(6) To discuss the consideration the governmental body is willing to offer or accept when considering the purchase, sale, exchange, lease, or market value of real property. Provided, however, that the material terms of any contract to purchase, exchange, or lease real property shall be disclosed in the public portion of a meeting prior to the execution of the contract. If an executive session is utilized pursuant to this exception in addition to the members of the governmental body, only persons representing the interests of the governmental body in the transaction may be present during the executive session. This real property discussion exception shall not apply if:
a. Any member of the governmental body involved in the transaction has a personal interest in the transaction and attends or participates in the executive session concerning the real property.
b. A condemnation action has been filed to acquire the real property involved in the discussion.
(7) To discuss preliminary negotiations involving matters of trade or commerce in which the governmental body is in competition with private individuals or entities or other governmental bodies in Alabama or in other states or foreign nations or to discuss matters or information of the character defined or described in the Alabama Trade Secrets Act. Provided, however, that prior to such discussions a person involved in the recruitment or retention effort or who has personal knowledge that the discussion will involve matter or information of the character defined or described in the Alabama Trade Secrets Act advises the governmental body in writing or by oral declaration entered into the minutes that the discussions would have a detrimental effect upon the competitive position of a party to the negotiations or upon the location, retention, expansion, or upgrading of a public employee or business entity in the area served by the governmental body if disclosed outside of an executive session, or would disclose information protected by the Alabama Trade Secrets Act.
(8) To discuss strategy in preparation for negotiations between the governmental body and a group of public employees. Provided, however, that prior to such discussions a person representing the interests of a governmental body involved in such negotiations advises the governmental body in writing or by oral declaration entered into the minutes that the discussions would have a detrimental effect upon the negotiating position of the governmental body if disclosed outside of an executive session.
(9) To deliberate and discuss evidence or testimony presented during a public or contested case hearing and vote upon the outcome of the proceeding or hearing if the governmental body is acting in the capacity of a quasi-judicial body, and either votes upon its decision in an open meeting or issues a written decision which may be appealed to a hearing officer, an administrative board, court, or other body which has the authority to conduct a hearing or appeal of the matter which is open to the public.
(b) A governmental body desiring to convene an executive session, other than to conduct a quasi-judicial or contested case hearing, shall utilize the following procedure:
(1) A quorum of the governmental body must first convene a meeting as defined in Section 36-25A-2(6) a. 1 and 2.
(2) A majority of the members of the governmental body present must adopt, by recorded vote, a motion calling for the executive session and setting out the purpose of the executive session, as provided in subsection (a). If subsection (a) requires an oral or written declaration before the executive session can begin, such oral or written declaration shall be made, prior to the vote.
(3) The vote of each member shall be recorded in the minutes.

(4) Prior to calling the executive session to order, the presiding officer shall state whether the governmental body will reconvene after the executive session and, if so, the approximate time the body expects to reconvene. 

Commission Meeting 24 February 2014
     Meeting called to order at 5 PM by Chairman Andrews, invocation by Commissioner Millender followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call.  All members present.
     The agenda and previous minutes were approved by unanimous vote.
Payroll/personnel report:
     1 New hire engineering division
     1 New hire jail c. o.
     1 Separation, Terry Gray, animal shelter.
Claims approval:
     There were no claims over the limit requiring approval.  
     There was 59 hours of overtime for approval.  Ms. Ruby Straughn broke it down as 18 hours from the jail, 11 hours from the sheriff’s department, 14 hours from the probate judges office, 6 hours from engineering department and the remainder to the commission office spaces.  There were explanations available to justify the overtime.
     Commissioner Millender commended Ms. Straughn on her thoroughness in the report.
Bid Opening:
     County Engineer Winston Foshee opened the bids for “Full Depth Reclamation 9” thick project.”  Winning bid by Miller Group in the amount of $138,460.00.  Material is to provide the base for 7/10 mile on Johnsonville Loop (Circle) and County Roads 3 and 37.  This is the base layer prior to putting out asphalt.  Bid accepted on engineers recommendation.
Conecuh County Animal Shelter:
     It was announced there is a full time opening at the Conecuh County Animal Shelter and advertising for this position was to commence immediately.
EMA Directors Report:
     Mr. Johnny Brock announced a safety meeting had been held Monday morning.  All audit items that had been noted had been completed with the exception of two and they were in work.
     Mr. Brock suggested that safety vest should be purchased and issued to anyone who could possibly be doing any work near the roadways.  This was approved by unanimous vote.
     Discussion about the need for personnel getting CPR qualified was next.  Final result, it was approved the county would send personnel to CPR classes.
County Engineer:
     Mr. Winston Foshee reported he is working to get the annual inspection on fire extinguishers completed.  He is considering having all fire extinguishers brought to the engineer department for inspection.  He also suggested fire extinguishers be added to all current equipment.
     The CDBG grant for the Brooklyn water extension with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood handling the engineering portion was approved by unanimous vote.
     Mr. Foshee has devised an equipment check list for county equipment.  He plans to hold in house training to familiarize personnel with procedures. 
County Administrators Report:
     Ms. Judy Covan recapped the items discussed in the working session that needed to come before the regular meeting for approval.  (See work session report).
1.     Policy and Procedures for emergency situations.  Passed
2.     Over time procedure.  Passed.
3.     Bid opening process.  No action required.
4.     Bid rejection for animal shelter fencing.  Passed.
5.    Training classes for county personnel.  Passed.
6.     Need for further consideration on life insurance programs.
     Ms. Covan advised the commission of travel pay change.  Mileage will now be paid at $.56 per mile.
     Ms. Covan advised the commission mid-year budget hearings are due to start in March.
     There is a ceiling leak in the commission spaces.  To maintenance personnel for action.
County Attorney:
     Mr. Anthony Bishop discussed appointments to the housing authority board.  He advised the commission the board consist of three people who serve six year terms.  He informed the commission these terms should be set up in a staggered manner with appointments due every two years.
     Mr. Bishop suggested the commission go into executive session to discuss his salary.
     Chairman Andrews asked for and received a motion and second to go into executive session at 6:10 PM.
     Open session reconvened at 6:24 PM.
     First item for discussion on return was agreement to provide medical services.  I have no idea what agreement this is or who/what it involves as no explanation was offered.
Chairman Comments and Announcements:
Media Comments:
     I stated I had asked at the 1 January meeting what was going on with the payback of the $175,000.00 forwarded to Evergreen Wood Products.  This money was supposed to have been repaid by 1 January 2014.
     As everyone knows, Evergreen Wood Products floundered and died when they were unable to get financing and the city/county refused to pledge another 1.7 million dollars each.  At the January meeting I was informed it was a loan to the IDB and the attorney was looking into it.
     My question to Mr. Bishop was, what was he looking into?  It was quiet obvious I’d taken him by surprise.  He finally stated there was still plenty of time to bring litigation to get our money back.
Adjourn:  6:15

See follow up report on Alabama State Law dealing with executive session and other remarks.

Commission Work Session 24 February 2014

     A Commission work session commenced at 3 PM with Mr. Danny Ryan, an insurance benefits broker presenting the commission with the following information:
     The current life insurance policy in effect for the county has a benefit of $20,000.00 per employee up to age 64; at that point it drops to a coverage level of $13,000.00 and drops again when an employee hits age 70, this time to $9,000.00.  The county regularly employees approximately 90 people.  It appears currently 2 people have the lowest rate of coverage.
     It seems no one knew this information and it was duly noted how this could lead to both embarrassment and problems in the event of a death.
     Mr. Ryan advised the commission that, after discovering this benefits reduction situation, he had looked into some plans that could be more attractive for the county to furnish its employees.
     He presented two plans, one from Mutual of Omaha (plan one) and another from Lincoln (plan two).  A third plan was mentioned but cost factors were well above the cost of the others.
     Plan one covers employees for $20,000.00 until age 74 then would drop to $13,000.00 for age 75 and up.  The cost of this plan is $76.60, $0.10 per policy cheaper. than the one now in effect.
     Plan two gives $20.000.00 coverage with no age reduction.  The cost for this program is $10.20 per person per policy.
     Mr. Ryan was asked that, should an employee leave their position, could they continue this coverage.  The response was, absolutely.  An employee leaving the county payroll could convert their policy by applying regardless of any existing medical problems.  The only thing they must do is provide their name, age, sex and tobacco use.  This will determine the cost of the policy to the individual at that time.  They will no longer qualify for the reduced group coverage plan and cost will increase.
     The commission body took Mr. Ryan’s information into account and advised him they would make a decision after further research.

     Next on the work session program was a problem with voting precincts, most especially in Bermuda.  The Bermuda Community Center has been the regular polling place in the past however; it has been closed and no longer has insurance, power or water.  The center was closed during the last election and the county paid the bill to restore power and water and covered it under their insurance.  
     Commissioner Cook informed the body he has been in negotiation with a different entity for an alternate place to set up the polls.
     It was acknowledged there were some other precincts with voter problems also, primarily Castleberry where 2 districts share a common voting place.  There was discussion as how voter problems arose last time and some voters actually voted in the wrong district.
     It was determined by the commission body that, due to a change in voting machines and the precinct problems, Probate Judge Booker be called in to help determine the problems and assist in resolutions.
     Judge Booker told the commission there would be a change in the type/style of voting machines used this year.  He also told the commission about the training of voting personnel and the need for fresh, new people to work the polls.
     Several ideas were tossed about but no conclusions were reached.

     During a previous meeting it had been mentioned a need for protocol and procedures needed to be refined.  This was the next item on for the work session with the recent break-down in communications being referenced.
     It was determined that, should an emergency condition exist and there be difficulty in assembling a meeting, the chairman, administrator, county engineer and EMA director be authorized to make a decision.  Once this decision was reached, the county administer would be responsible of informing all remaining commission members immediately.

     Overtime approval policy was next to be discussed.  Ms. Covan read the policy on overtime and payment thereof based on the current law.  It was determined that all employees working overtime would normally be paid for that overtime during the pay period in which the overtime occurred.
     Commissioner Millender pointed out that, by appearances, a department had used overtime to make up for what they perceived as being underpaid.  Mr. Millender pointed out that a better explanation of the overtime and why it was necessary should come from the Department Head upon submission.

     Bid opening procedure was the next item.  Commissioner Cook presented a proposal that bids should continue to be sent out in the same manner as now with a bid closing date and time assigned.  He suggested that bids did not need to wait for a commission meeting but could be opened at the end of the qualifying period with proper notice to the media, public and commission body.  At the next regular scheduled meeting, the bids could be announced and voted on.  It was determined that no action was necessary on this item.

     At a previous meeting bids had been offered for fencing for the animal shelter.  These bids had been placed in a hold status pending further review.  It was determined to reject all bids, have the animal shelter supervisor, Mr. Sid Lambert construct a list of needed materials and have the fence installed by county employees.

     The DHR Board was next to be discussed.  Rules have been reviewed as to who can be placed on the board.  Current elected officials cannot serve state employees who left state employment less than 2 years ago are ineligible.
     Currently the length of appointment is for 6 years, it meets four times per year at 3:30 PM and it was an unpaid position.  Hard to tempt someone with all those positives.
     It was noted that the board needed at least 3 additional people assigned with District One and Four having the most need.  Also, one person from district two or three was needed.  There is a strong possibility a fourth person could be needed.

     Training classes for commission personnel was next for discussion.  Final determination, if a class offers itself, someone wants or needs to attend and work load permitting, send them.

     Working session ended at 4; 47 PM

City Council 18 February 2014

Call to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 PM.  Invocation given by Mr. Mike Lanier.

Roll Call showed all members present.

During the informal session Mr. Strong came before the council and asked what rules/guidelines/laws the city follows on worthless checks.  He stated City Employee Bryan Martin is in violation of state law in the manner he sends out letters advising people of their check not being negotiated.  He said the letters should be sent certified mail.  He went on to say he had refused to pay a $20.00 bad check fee and Mr. Martin had shutoff his power.
Attorney Hartley took Mr. Strong’s paperwork and told him he would get in contact with him after he’d had the opportunity to review.

Mr. Bill Hart spoke next.  He commended the city employees for their efforts and dedication during the recent inclement weather.  He also suggested the city consider replacing worn vehicles with 4 wheel drive vehicles for future winter storms.  Mr. Hart suggested the city also make an attempt at acquiring sand spreaders to assist in dispersing the sand.

Mr. Moore came before the council to ask for cooperation in a pending 5K run.  He said it would be a weekend event and requested police support for safety factors.  Monies made by this event are to go toward a scholarship for a Hillcrest High School student who has expressed a desire for further education.  Mayor Wolff turned over paperwork supplied by Mr. Moore to City Attorney Hartley for review.  Mayor Wolff advised Mr. Moore the council would take action at the next meeting.

The agenda was approved by unanimous vote.

Mayor Wolff has received a letter from Representative Newton stating the sewer grant had been approved.  This equates to a $400,000.00 grant.

Mayor Wolff announced he is working with the Navy dealing with a runway extension at Middleton Field.

Both accounts payable and previous minutes were approved.

There was no old business to come before the council.

Committee Reports 
Councilperson Skinner informed the council that the park concession stand P. A. system is being wired in.  Upon completion work will resume on completing the building.
Councilperson Skinner presented a check from South Alabama Gas in the amount of $214,323.00.
Mr. Skinner also announced street lights are now installed on Houston-Lee Drive.

New Business:
Love’s 13th quarter payment in the amount of $42,324.66 was approved by unanimous vote.
A contract with Panhandle Alarm to monitor the Library for possible fires was approved. 
Will require the purchase of 1 Borsch Fire Communicator.  Contract cost, $30.00 per month.
Six resolutions dealing with city clean up were approved.  They include the following addresses:  512 South Main Street; 238 Magnolia Avenue and 416 North Main.  Attorney Hartley advised Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil to send these notices to the owners by certified mail.

Motion to go into executive session to discuss good name and character of individuals and pending litigation.  Approved.

Return from executive session, motion to adjourn approved.

Next meeting 4 March 2014

                   Christmas and Scrooges
     In spite of the efforts of some of our county and city scrooges it appears I will still be able to do Christmas for many of our counties needy children.
     I am in need of some dolls, footballs and basketballs if anyone desires to donate.
     If you have knowledge of a child that won't have a Christmas without help, please contact your pastor, elected official or a recognized group and have them get in contact with me. 
     I do ask that you supply the names, ages and sex of all children in the household.  Please no more than six (6) children per home.  I try to hold the age to fourteen (14) and below.  I do need these names turned in by 15 December to give me ample time to work things out.
     Here's hoping we can ensure every child knows someone loves them and thinks of them. 
     As we enter into this time of giving let us not forget the greatest gift of all and if he could sacrifice a son, surely we can give up a little to let others know they are not alone.
Thank you.

                                     7 February 2014

     45 years ago, on a Friday such as this one, I anxiously waited for the day to pass.
     I was anxious for one reason and one reason alone.  That was my wedding day and I looked forward to that afternoon so much.
     Well, forty-five years later has done nothing to dull my feelings for the most beautiful woman in the world and the one that choose to spend her life with me.
     Just as beautiful now as that blushing sixteen year old that stood in front of the minister with me to exchange vows.  By the way, just to show how nervous I really was, the minister was/is just as married to her as I am.  When he looked at me and said "say I will if you will" that's exactly what I said, "I will if you will."  Wish he'd borne some of the expense along the way.
     She's been by my side most of the way except for the times she stood behind me to push and encourage me and has stood in front of me to protect me.
     Just to wake up beside her makes my day brighter, thank God she's my wife, my love for her has only grown.

Jim Allen has written an editorial dealing with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a small local town.  We've often discussed what the major problem is with our functioning government and, give credit to Jim, he found the word that probably fits best.
After reading it, I asked Jim if I could share it on my web site and he was gracious enough to allow me.
Folks, here's the problems in a nutshell, do any of you have the nerve, backbone or just plain intestinal fortitude to make things better.  That vote you so casually caste is the key, think and perhaps a change for better will come from your casting it.  But then if you're happy in a pig pen, keep wallowing. 

Reprinted by permission of Jim Allen
Monthly View

Greetings From The Publisher
Well our first survey went well. In one week we had 50 total votes (206 looked at the results).
Maybe it was too obvious a question: Should the Industrial Development Board have to repay the money it borrowed?
There were 47 YES votes (94%) - and 3 NO votes (6%).
I'm hoping next time around more of those 206 will vote.

You're REALLY going to be disappointed if you review James Leon Windham's Commission article for October 14, 2013. According to Windham's article, Economic Development Director Bobby Skipper told the Commission the IDB didn't have the money to repay the loan(s) and the Commission gave it to them anyway.... so did the City of Evergreen.
Crony capitalism
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of [favoritism]. Crony capitalism is believed to arise when political cronyism spills over into the business world; self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Oligarchy (from Greek meaning "few," and "to rule or to command") is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next.
Does any of that sound familiar? And you thought I was just making this up. Name calling. The Political Elite.
Crony Capitalism is a problem we face on a national level - and it's a problem we face here in Conecuh County. In fact, it's everywhere. My concern though is here. We can't change what they do in Washington. But we can change how we want to live in Conecuh County.
The first step in changing something is recognizing and admitting there's a problem. Past families of prominence and those chosen as political leaders in Conecuh County never intended what we now have. We've all seen the old photographs of downtown Evergreen filled wall-to-wall with automobiles, people - and business. Those prominent families and businesses took their fair share of profit and affluence then made sure, by social, business and political design, the citizens of Conecuh shared in the economic boon with equal opportunity and an ability to rise as high as their skill and determination would take them. It was called the American Dream. For a time, it was alive and well in this country and in this county.
A rising tide lifts all boats. Everyone's standard of living, as meager as times were back then, was high. It wasn't Socialism that did it and it wasn't welfare. It was a strong sense of community and working together for the common good that made it happen.
This strong sense of community was a remnant of pioneer times when individuals had to be self-sufficient, yet depend on their neighbors and their community for security, social and economic growth. What was good for the Community was good for them.
But the social and business climate across our nation changed - and we all unwittingly became a reflection of those changes. Business became more cutthroat. Cultivating profit and power became more important than spreading wealth throughout the community.
Helping yourself (and if it's to your advantage, helping your friends) became more important than helping your neighbor or some stranger you don't even know.
It's a dark side of Human Nature that masquerades as "common sense self preservation." In reality, it's selfishness and greed.
Then, over the past few decades while no one even realized it was happening, the lines between local government, business and prominent families become so intertwined that any form of economic competition or political accountability become virtually nonexistent. Monopolies, cliques and special interests abound in business, politics and social circles. Who would dare complain or disagree with someone's best friend, family member, landlord, or the person who might be signing their checks?
Make a mental list of politicians and their family members, the major property owners and their family members, the major business owners and their family members, and then compare them to a list of social clubs, civic groups, business associations, and governmental committees and see whose a member of what.
The groups are all intertwined with overlapping memberships to the point there is little or no distinction - or disagreement - between them. Although there might be some internal rumbling between members, what one group wants it usually gets.
In their efforts to solidify political positions and assert economic power, the Political Elite have either inadvertently or deliberately placed a stranglehold on economic and social growth in Conecuh that has created a great divide between those who have - and those who have not. Over time, it just went haywire - and probably with no ill intent by most, yet taken advantage of by some - and even abused by a few.
These businesses and our government feed off of your money. While you struggle to pay your bills, buy that prescription, or put enough food on your table, those are your dollars that bought that guy's second home or his fancy new car. Those are your hundreds of thousands of tax dollars that got "loaned" from one government agency to the next - with little likelihood it will ever be repaid.
Under Crony Capitalism, independent small businesses like this newspaper can be economically shunned or forced to walk a fine line of political and social correctness just to do business. Demands during negotiations with larger businesses and industry might include who to hire, how many to hire, or even what race to hire. A lack of competition allows existing businesses to charge higher prices for their products or fees for their services - or to pay lower wages to its employees. A lack of accountability in government means officials face no real criticism or repercussions for their actions even if it negatively affects local businesses or taxpayer money. Political favors run amok.
The "People in Charge" certainly don't see themselves as Ogres. And most of them aren't. They're decent people living their life as they know it. What they haven't done, however, is stepped back and looked at the overall picture of how we've gotten to where we are in Conecuh County and how their actions - or lack thereof - may have contributed to the problem.
No one wants to stand up. We have become bystanders - and government and businesses do whatever they want. And you pay for it.
If we can't break away from our local form of Crony Capitalism, Conecuh County will never move forward as it should. This is not the type of government or business environment we need or want. But it is what we've got. And that's the problem. Now we have a name for it. It's been identified. It's called Crony Capitalism.

 Jim Allen

Travel Pay December 2013 


Monthly Expense Report for December 2013

                Monthly Expense Report by District/Department

Commissioner Travel Pay Jan. 2014

 Received the statements for January travel pay.  Chairman Johnny Andrews of District 3 continues to draw the largest amount of travel pay.  One item of interest to note, only 3 commissioners submitted travel pay request for the month.  

City Council 18 February 2014

Call to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 PM.  Invocation given by Mr. Mike Lanier.

Roll Call showed all members present.

During the informal session Mr. Strong came before the council and asked what rules/guidelines/laws the city follows on worthless checks.  He stated City Employee Bryan Martin is in violation of state law in the manner he sends out letters advising people of their check not being negotiated.  He said the letters should be sent certified mail.  He went on to say he had refused to pay a $20.00 bad check fee and Mr. Martin had shutoff his power.
Attorney Hartley took Mr. Strong’s paperwork and told him he would get in contact with him after he’d had the opportunity to review.

Mr. Bill Hart spoke next.  He commended the city employees for their efforts and dedication during the recent inclement weather.  He also suggested the city consider replacing worn vehicles with 4 wheel drive vehicles for future winter storms.  Mr. Hart suggested the city also make an attempt at acquiring sand spreaders to assist in dispersing the sand.

Mr. Moore came before the council to ask for cooperation in a pending 5K run.  He said it would be a weekend event and requested police support for safety factors.  Monies made by this event are to go toward a scholarship for a Hillcrest High School student who has expressed a desire for further education.  Mayor Wolff turned over paperwork supplied by Mr. Moore to City Attorney Hartley for review.  Mayor Wolff advised Mr. Moore the council would take action at the next meeting.

The agenda was approved by unanimous vote.

Mayor Wolff has received a letter from Representative Newton stating the sewer grant had been approved.  This equates to a $400,000.00 grant.

Mayor Wolff announced he is working with the Navy dealing with a runway extension at Middleton Field.

Both accounts payable and previous minutes were approved.

There was no old business to come before the council.

Committee Reports 
Councilperson Skinner informed the council that the park concession stand P. A. system is being wired in.  Upon completion work will resume on completing the building.
Councilperson Skinner presented a check from South Alabama Gas in the amount of $214,323.00.
Mr. Skinner also announced street lights are now installed on Houston-Lee Drive.

New Business:
Love’s 13th quarter payment in the amount of $42,324.66 was approved by unanimous vote.
A contract with Panhandle Alarm to monitor the Library for possible fires was approved. 
Will require the purchase of 1 Borsch Fire Communicator.  Contract cost, $30.00 per month.
Six resolutions dealing with city clean up were approved.  They include the following addresses:  512 South Main Street; 238 Magnolia Avenue and 416 North Main.  Attorney Hartley advised Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil to send these notices to the owners by certified mail.

Motion to go into executive session to discuss good name and character of individuals and pending litigation.  Approved.

Return from executive session, motion to adjourn approved.

Next meeting 4 March 2014

Interstate Towing

     During times of hardships the true cream of the crop will come to the top.  Such is the case with Interstate Towing.
     During the recent weather crisis Steve Fleming and his son sailed out in their tow vehicle and helped rescue those brave souls who dared the elements and came in second.
     In a short chat today with Steve I found out they towed 30 or more vehicles out of the ditches and byways around Evergreen, all at NO COST to the people.

     I'm not sure how many of you ventured out into the open during that ice/snow/rain storm but if you did you know how cold it was.  Just imagine the selflessness of Steve and his son to get out in those elements to help their fellow man.

     For those actions I want everyone to know Interstate Towing is my pick for the most caring business in our area.

     Thank you to Interstate Towing and the Flemings for their "standup" attitude and for being a good neighbor.


    Conecuh County Commission Mtg. 10 Feb. 2014

     Call to order by Chairman Andrews at 9 AM.  Prayer by Mr. Robert Floyd.  Roll Call showed all present except District 4 Commissioner McCreary.
     The agenda was approved as were the minutes of the regular and special commission meetings of 27 January 2014.
     Commissioner McCreary arrived.
 Payroll/Personnel Report:
     Ms. Straughn announced no changes since last report.  There were 21.25 hours overtime for the jail.  Result of storm.
     Commissioner Millender had a question.  He stated it seemed the only department to have overtime is the jail and asked if any other department(s) had overtime.  Ms. Straughn replied other departments did have overtime but County Administrator Covan had told her others don’t apply so she had been omitting them.  Ms. Straughn stated the Engineering Department had received overtime also.
     Commissioner Millender spoke of the commission body making a decision at the emergency meeting to close the government center from Tuesday morning until noon Thursday.  The government center did not actually resume business until noon Friday and he was concerned how the commission body, who had acted as a complete body when closing the center, would be able to justify pay to the employees because the body did not act as a complete body to extend the closure.
     Chairman Andrews stated he had been in contact with EMA Director Brock discussing road conditions.  Mr. Andrews also stated he called Commissioner Cook and conferred with him and they made the decision to keep the government center closed.
     Commissioner Millender asked Mr. Andrews if he could call Mr. Cook, why could he not call the other commissioners?  Both Commissioners Hildreth and McCreary stated they had received no notification what-so-ever.
     Commissioner Millender stated that when the commission receives an audit the minutes are examined to ensure payroll corresponds with the minutes.  Without a consensus from the commission body the employees cannot legally collect pay.
     Chairman Andrews admitted fault in not calling the others but still tried to justify his actions by asking if it was a good decision.
     Commissioner Millender reminded the commission body that even now they are in a review of a procedure policy for the commission but why even do the review if simply current procedure cannot be followed.
     It was agreed that in the future an attempt would be made to include the entire body in decision making instead of just one or two running the county.
     Motion to approve payroll/personnel report with pay included for the employees passed.
Approve Claims:
     Ms. Covan reports three claims in the general fund are over the limit and require approval.  There were no over the limit claims in the gasoline fund.  Approved.
     Ms. Covan introduced a resolution for tax levy for Conecuh County for the year 2014.  This is an annual thing that must be approved each year.  There are no changes from last year.  Approved.
EMA Report:
     EMA Director Johnny Brock advised the commission they needed to rescind the “State of Emergency” order adopted on 27 January 2014.  Completed.
     Mr. Brock advised the commission the Hazard Mitigation Plan must be completed.   Mr. Brock said ATRC would help in writing it.   This action was approved by the commission.  He also advised the commission it must be approved and in place to continue receiving grants.
     Mr. Brock addressed the disposition of a trailer his department has.  This was addressed at the last commission meeting.  Mr. Brock said the trailer was no longer needed at EMA and the Evergreen Fire Department had asked for it for storage of some of their fire-fighting equipment.  Attorney Bishop said he had looked at this transfer and sees no problem.  Commission voted to allow EFD to have the trailer with the understanding that should they reach a position they have no further need of it, it will be returned to EMA.
     Mr. Brock announced a Bomb Threat Assessment Drill will be taught a Reed State.  He encourages all commissioners to attend.
County Administrator’s Report:
     Ms. Covan introduced an alcohol licenses memo that needed approval.  This is an annual procedure and required no action other than a vote.  Unanimous.
     Ms. Covan said there was a request from the State to extend the lease for the Humane Resources building.  She also advised there was not an ample amount in attendance to establish a quorum for the last meeting.  Ms. Lula Palmer of Castleberry had been appointed to the human resources board but had to surrender her position due to her elected position on the Castleberry City Council.  Also, Mr. Nelson Crandall declined an offer to sit on the Human Resources board.  There are currently 2 openings for that board.  It will be discussed further at the next meeting.
     Ms. Covan announced she was in receipt of a memo from ALATOM as a reminder of an Executive Meeting on 12 February.
     Ms. Covan had solicited inputs from local businesses on cleaning the exterior of the courthouse.  She has received one input.  After discussion, it was determined to let bids for the job and see what came about.
County Attorney Bishop:
     Attorney Bishop stated his only business was to call for an executive session to discuss good name and character.
     Commissioner Hildreth asked to speak on a subject prior to going into executive session.  He had something to share with the public and wished to get it out before people started leaving.
     Mr. Hildreth addressed primarily Mr. Jerome Boykin dealing with a road in the Springhill community.  Mr. Hildreth stated he had heard that the reason no action was being taken on that road was because he would not bring it up.  He went on to say that all the commissioners had agreed they would not attempt to pave any roads this fiscal year to ensure they had ample funding to cover the ATRIP share of cost of road repair.  Mr. Hildreth gave Mr. Boykin his word he would do the very best he could to keep that road up until the time came for it to be paved.
Motion for executive session approved.
Return to regular meeting.
Chairman Andrews remarks:
     Mr. Andrews surrendered the floor to Mr. Buddy Howington.  Mr. Howington spoke of the upcoming Fat Calf Show involving the young people of the county.  He stated the association was short on money.  They have enough funds to pay for the meal for the judges, etc. but not for the young people.  
     Knowing it could not come out of county funds, each commissioner pledged $100.00 to the event.
News Media Comments:
Motion to Adjourn honored at 10:40 AM.

City Council Meeting 4 February 2014

     Mayor Wolff called the meeting to order at 6:04 PM with invocation by Mr. Mike Lanier.

     Councilperson Maxine Harris was absent from roll call. 

     There were no visitors to appear before the council during the informal session.

     The agenda was approved by unanimous vote.

Mayor’s Comments:
     Mayor Wolff announced the city was in receipt of a franchise tax check from Southern Pine in the amount of $9,967.02.  He also stated the Navy Contact was on hand awaiting approval.  The Navy pays $36,660.00 annually for use of Middleton Field.  Mayor Wolff asked the council to allow him the opportunity to negotiate with the Navy and see if he could get some additional concessions from them to go with the money.  Council approved.
     Mayor Wolff commended the city employees who responded to the cities needs during the recent weather crisis.  He stated the city did not lose power, water or sewer during the bout of inclement weather that was on hand last week.  Again, kudos to the city employees who were required to work during this time.
     Mayor Wolff also stated the city had received an increase in phone calls complaining about what appears to be an increase in power cost.  Mr. Wolff stated the city has not gone up on power.  He also said he’d been in contact with Alabama Power about this increase.  Alabama Power informed the mayor this is the 4th coldest winter on record and an increase in cold temperatures increases the amount of power consumed.  Both power and gas consumption is based on degree days and this year has 40% colder days than years past.
     The mayor noted the building works for the Super Foods grocery store are on the scene and should be going up soon.

Review of Accountants payable:  Approved by unanimous vote.

Approval of Income/Expense Report for January 2014:  Approved unanimously.

Old Business:
     Grant Writer Stallman introduced a resolution approving Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood as the engineering group for the CDBG.  Passed unanimously.

Committee Reports:
     Councilperson Skinner said the roof was on the building site at the park.
     There was further discussion about street lighting as addressed by Ms. Joy Wilson at the last council meeting.
     Mr. Bobby Skipper advised the council will need to take action on the upcoming bid awards for the installation of radio read meters.  All council members desiring to should make themselves familiar with what is happening there.  When questioned, Mr. Skipper said the meters should be installed within 9 months of the start date.
     Mayor Wolff remarked about how good the landscaping work done from Church’s Chicken to the Overhead Bridge looked.  This was accomplished by Riley Landscaping.  Mayor Wolff said he would be speaking to Mr. Stephen Riley about this soon.

New Business:
     The January 2014 payment by vendor report was approved by unanimous vote.
     It was approved for the city clerk to attend the Alabama Association of Municipal Clerks and Administrator.  Cost to the city, $25.00.

With no further business to come before the council, a motion to adjourn was made and passed 6:15 PM.

Next regular scheduled meeting 18 February 2014, 6 PM.

Evergreen City Council Work Session 4 February 2014

Called to order at 5:30 PM.  

Purpose, to review engineering proposals and determine which engineering company to employ for the Evergreen CDBG grant.

Three Companies (Civil South East, DMD Engineering and Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood) have submitted profiles and a representative from each was on hand to answer any questions.

Each representative was given an opportunity to speak.  They were then asked to leave the council chambers during the discussion portion.  Superintendent Daryll Davis asked to speak to the council and recommended they award the job to Civil South East.

After deliberation each council person was asked to assign a numerical value to each company.  At the completion of this, the numbers were evaluated by Grant Writer Cara Stallman and Economic Director Bobby Skipper.

Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood finished in the #1 spot.

The work session was closed at 6:03 PM.


October 2013 Monthly Expense Report by District

                County Commission 27 Jan. 2014

     Called to order by Chairman Andrews at 5 PM.  The benediction, pledge and roll call had been accomplished at the 3 PM emergency meeting and were skipped for this portion.
     Commissioner Hildreth continued to be absent.  He had to take his daughter to a doctor's appointment in Birmingham.  Good news, good report.
     The agenda was approved as printed; the minutes from the previous meeting were approved.
     Payroll/personnel report showed 3 new hires within the Sheriff’s department.  One new hire in the Government Center, Commission Clerk.  One transfer from the tag office to the probate office.  Four hours of overtime from the sheriff’s department.
     Under claims approval there was one General Fund invoice from the Evergreen Vets. Office for $817.00.  This dealt with services render to the Animal Shelter.  Commissioner Millender asked to review the invoice and asked for an explanation of the charges.  There were no claims over the limit for the Gasoline Fund.
     Ms. Linda Vice, representing the Alabama Tourism and Film Office spoke on the Alabama Black Belt Heritage benefits and how it could help Conecuh County as well as be helped by Conecuh.  She spoke of our heritage factors and the benefits Conecuh could receive from them by encouraging and advertising our county.
     Ms. Vice encouraged everyone to review the Alabama website for insight in promoting our natural assets.
     Concerned citizen Mr. Jerome Boykin came before the commission (again) to ask for a status on the improvements to the Springhill Road.  Mr. Boykin asked why this area could not receive attention and hopefully get paved.  Mr. Boykin stated this was not the first time he had been before the commission asking for these improvements to be considered and implemented.  Mr. Boykin noted it had been quite some time since the road had even been graded.  
  Chairman Andrews seemed to find humor in something and started laughing but was quickly put on notice by Mr. Boykin that he did not consider this to be a laughing matter.  Mr. Andrews revised his composure and talked to Mr. Boykin about what had been budgeted and the funding factors dealing with road improvements in the Springhill area.
     Mr. Andrews asked County Engineer Foshee what answers he might have.  Mr. Foshee referred to earlier meeting where road paving and maintenance of current paved roads had been discussed.
     Mr. Boykin invited the commissioners to please join him in a tour of the Springhill roads allowing them to get first hand looks.  It was determined that some of the commissioners, along with the engineer would tour the area on Friday, 31 January at 10 AM.
     I was next on the agenda to discuss road vacation.  I pointed out to the commission that his topic was very appropriate coming behind Mr. Boykin’s questions.  I asked the commission why a road vacated by prescription as addressed by Code of Alabama and Attorney Generals opinions was being resurrected.  
     The road in question is was a dirt section running from County Road 5 to what is known as either the Old Federal Road or the The Old Stage Road. 
     I discovered this road had received a lot of attention as of late to include (based on the engineers statement) 100 loads of dirt.  Prior to addressing this I had contacted the previous commissioner for this district, Mr. D. K. Bodiford.  I questioned Mr. Bodiford if there had ever been any upkeep on that road during his tenure in office.  He informed me that road was not being kept up when he went in office nor did it receive any upkeep while he was in office.
     I asked the commission where that road had been covered in their budget but received no answer.  Engineer Foshee spoke up and said that road had never been abandon and had been the recipient of county upkeep.  He mentioned that the side cutter had been run through the road.
     My point had been proven.  A road with no houses or traffic was being reworked for no apparent reason yet roads with residents, churches, traffic are being ignored.  Need I say more?
     EMA Director Johnny Brock was next on the agenda.  He spoke of anticipated ice and snow on the roads starting tomorrow and encouraged people to be safe as possible.  If you don’t need to get out, don’t get out.
     Mr. Brock stated there had been two (2) diesel spills today; one was a major spill involving approximately 200 gallons of fuel.
     There is another invoice approval for a safe room in the amount of $4,000.00.  This money does not come from county funds but is part of a grant in the past.
     Mr. Brock told the commission of a trailer in EMA position that had been originally designated as a command center for EMA operations but is no longer needed.  He stated the Evergreen Fire Department had expressed an interest in having the trailer and he had checked to ensure there would be no problems transferring the trailer to EFD.  The only thing that must happen is, the trailer must be registered and insured by the EFD.  It was agreed the trailer would be transferred pending approval by the county attorney’s review.
     County Engineer Foshee spoke on the CDBG grant involving extending the water system from Brooklyn to Covington County.  At a previous commission meeting it had been discussed as to what firm would get the engineering portion of this grant.  Two (2) companies had submitted bids and they were taken under review.  After looking at all aspects, Mr. Foshee recommended Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood be awarded the job.  Approved by unanimous vote.
     Mr. Foshee also announced he is setting up CPR classes for the engineering and road departments.  
     He is also in the process of setting up a vehicle inspection report form and acquiring training for engineering and road department personnel.
     Ms. Judy Covan’s report included a proclamation from the emergency meeting held earlier whereby the commission put in proclamation format the closing of the Government Center for Tuesday, Wednesday and until noon Thursday.  Approved by unanimous vote.
     Each year the Alabama Department of Youth Services requires a youth facility be designed.  Baldwin County has held this designation in the past and was approved for it again.
     The appraisal department has a large amount of paperwork that is required to be shredded, more than the local shredders can handle.  It was recommended a company with a mobile shredder be contacted for this job.  Ms. Covan tasked with making it happen.
     Alabama PALS program, an anti-litter, roadside clean-up effort is coming up.  Ms. Covan was again tasked with getting everything together for this effort.
     Ms. Covan addressed the commission on her findings dealing with the Conecuh Ambulance service from a previous meeting.  She said she had checked with both Covington and Butler Counties who do not contribute toward any medical transportation companies.  At this time, Monroe County has refused to provide monetary support to their ambulance services.  It was concluded the commission would discuss this further when they have a full body.
     The county attorney, Chairman and news media had no comments.
Adjourn 6:01 PM

  Conecuh County Commission work session 27 January 2014

     The work session started at 3:10 PM, directly behind the emergency called meeting.
    Evergreen City Council Member John Skinner, Superintendent Jeff Sullivan and Mr. Brian Martin appeared before the commission body to discuss the Evergreen City Park improvements.  They described the improvements underway at the Evergreen City Park dealing with ball parks and the current construction of the concession stand/announcers booth.  
     They main gist of it all is the cost factor.  They stated the estimated cost for the current improvements is in excess of $1,000,000.00.  They are looking for assistance in funding from any and all sources.  Currently Alabama Power has shown an interest in partnering with the city in bringing the park project to completion.  Councilman Skinner, Superintendent Sullivan and Mr. Martin requested the commission body review and supply any provide any help possible.
    County Engineer Foshee spoke of the possible bridge conditions pending the incoming inclement weather.  He stated he planned to post road department people at bridges to observe travel conditions.  He advised he has insufficient sufficient barricades to put in place in the event bridges start to freeze, he suggested using county vehicles to block unsafe bridges.  Mr. Foshee also stated using sand on bridges could actually be more dangerous than leaving it off especially if there any possibility the sand becomes wet.
     As a member of the Economic Improvement group overseeing the Liberty Hill Project, Mr. Foshee spoke of the impending grocery store.  He said current plans are for the store to be open in June.  The store is to be a Cost Plus style store.  The owner is Mr. John Wilson from Grove Hill, Alabama.  Mr. Hill has two (2) stores already in operation, one in Greenville and another in Luverne.  
     Mr. Foshee spoke of the total cost of the bond issue ($9,000,000.00).  He stated Evergreen is backing the bond.  The county’s contribution to the cost of this project is the $.01 tax rebate from the Shrimp Basket and, when opened, the grocery store.
     Mr. Foshee also stated one more store is to be built from the bond issue money.  That is to be a jewelry, clothing style store by a Brewton management individual.
     A review of the current rules and procedures of commission operation has been underway.  County Attorney Bishop says he has already reviewed it.  The general consensus of the commission body was to continue the review and discuss it more at the next programmed work session.

     County Administrator Covan advised the commission the City of Evergreen is no longer picking up garbage.  This does have an impact on the Government Center.  Ms. Covan was tasked with taking care of arrangements to ensure the Government Center garbage pickup is continued.

     E911 held a meeting earlier in the day attempting to work out budget issues since the mandated change and movement from EMA.  Due to changes in the way funds are collected and returned, it was impractical to attempt to work a budget at this time.  The issue will be reviewed after March when the amount of funds from the Alabama Wireless receipts will be made available.  
     More input is needed for the vehicle request from E911 department.  Ms. Booker was tasked with getting everything together so the commission body can determine what vehicle to purchase and how the purchasing is to take place.
     Ms. Booker advised the commissioners that the E911 dispatchers would be required to remain on site during the period of expected inclement weather.  She stated there were some supplies that would need to be purchased.  (water, food, etcl.)

With no further business, the work session ended at 4:10 PM.
Regular commission meeting to take place at scheduled 5 PM time.

          Emergency Commission Meeting 27 Jan 2014
     Called to order at 3 PM by Chairman Andrews.  Circuit Clerk David Jackson gave the benediction followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
     Roll call showed Commissioner Hildreth as absent, all others were on hand.
     A motion was offered to approve the agenda.  Passed unanimously.
     A weather seminar had been held at 11:30 with no follow-ups at this time.  At the seminar it was announced Conecuh was borderline on the weather scale to receive ice and/or snow.
     It was determined a decision had been made by the Superintendent of Education that school systems would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.  Ms. Covan advised she had checked with other counties and all of them with the exception of Butler had closed their school systems.
     After further discussion it was determined the Government Center would close for Tuesday and Wednesday and re-open at 12:00 PM Thursday. 
     County Engineer Foshee said the road department would be on call.  He further stated the road crews would be sent out in the morning to check bridge conditions and if necessary, close the bridge down to all traffic until safe conditions are resumed.
     Motion to adjourn the emergency called meeting made and accepted.
Adjourn 3:08 PM.

It seems I haven't posted any travel pay forms since September 2013.
Remember, I had website problems and other things going on.  I'll attempt to update travel pay on this page.

August Expense Report by District
Monthly Expense Dist 2 July 13




Only have Travel Expense Reports for September.  Only 2 Districts submitted claims.
And the winner for most funds spent is, again, District 3.
How the money's spent in District 3
How the money's spent in District 5

Still in District 5

Monthly Expense Report by District.
This months winner for most money spent, District 3.
Monthly Expense Dist 1 Sept. 13
Monthly Expense Dist 2 Sept 13

Monthly Expense Dist 3 Sept 13
Monthly Expense Dist 4 Sept 13

Monthly Expense Dist 5 Sept 13

Here it is in all it's splendor, August Travel Pay by District.
District 1 $     28.25
District 2 $     56.50
District 3 $   537.51
District 4 $   144.39
District 5 $   268.69
Total        $1,035.34


     Here's a copy of the 2013-2014 Budget.
It was printed on long paper and in some cases I had to cut the pages down in size.  I tried to keep them numbered where you could keep up with them. 
     Your right to question anything.  Call, get on the agenda for a commission meeting and ask.  Enjoy, largest budget ever. 
     If you want to ask me a question or make a remark, email me at 
Thank goodness for oil revenues.








Well, here we go with another month of travel pay.
     Please note during this time frame we had 2 commissioners go to a NACO conference in Fort Worth, Texas.  One of those commissioners must be extremely important to us as we paid more than twice as much to send him as we did the other.
     Mr. Millender flew to Texas and cost us $419.62 total.  Mr. McCreary chose to drive and returned with a total cost to the county of $850.17.  Not only that, pay close attention to just how well he filled out his travel claim.  It's as if he was attempting to hide it.  My personal opinion, if the travel claim is not filled out correctly, it should be denied.
     Mr. Andrews no longer has the highest travel pay month, in fact it appears that publishing this PUBLIC DOCUMENT WHICH REQUIRED ME TO FILL OUT A PUBLIC DOCUMENT REQUEST FORM has actually slowed him down but now,  Mr. McCreary makes him look like a piker.  Mr. McCreary cost the taxpayers of our county $1,022.80 in travel pay alone for July.     
     Congratulations Mr. McCreary on finding a way to stick it to us even more.
Without any further ado, here's July's travel pay:
Travel Pay Hildreth July 13

Travel Pay Andrews July 13


     After posting the information I have on travel pay etc. I determined it would be unfair for you not to see with your eyes exactly what I've seen therefore I'm posting the travel sheets turned in by each commissioner.
     Once again I want to tell you a commissioners pay is about $21,000.00 per year plus the chairman gets an additional amount to the vicinity of $27,000.00 per year.  Please keep this in mind as you review these sheets and don't forget about the monthly expense report that cost you, the citizen.
     In all fairness, a commissioner is authorized to draw travel pay to keep a check on the conditions of the roads within their districts.  If a commissioner is not submitting a travel claim for this mileage I don't know if they are doing their job or not.  Perhaps they are and not billing the county which is nice or they don't check the conditions of the roads.  I did have a lady call me just this morning about limbs that were down over her road and she also wondered why debris is moved just far enough to get it off the road and is not moved into the woods or hauled off.  I referred her to the commissioner for the district she lives in.
With no further ado, here's the travel sheets I hold.  If there is not one posted, I do not have one for that district, month or commissioner.
Posting by District
Hildreth                  None
Cook:    April/May only
Travel Pay Cook APR
Travel Pay Cook MAY

Travel pay Cook May 2013
Andrews:  April/May/June
Travel Pay Andrews APR. 
Travel Pay Andrews APR. 1

Travel pay Andrews May 2013 Continued

Travel pay Andrews May 2013 Continued

Travel Pay Andrews June
April Only:
Travel Pay McCreary APR.
Travel pay McCreary April 2013
Travel Pay Millender APR.

Travel pay Millender April 2013

Travel Pay Millender May
Travel pay Millender May 2013
Travel pay Millender May 2013
Travel Pay Millender JUNE

                                       City Council 21 Jan 2014

     Called to order at 6 PM by Mayor Wolff.  Invocation offered by Mr. Mike Lanier.
     Council person Upton was missing from roll call.
     Ms. Joy Wilson appeared before the council to discuss street lighting in the area where she has just completed her new house.  She spoke to the council about how dark it is on her street and asked if consideration could be given to putting up a temporary street light until permanent lighting could be installed.  Mayor Wolff assured her he would look into it.
     The agenda was approved by unanimous vote.
     Under the Mayors comments, Mr. Wolff asked Mr. Lanier to give a report on the progress of the slab for the grocery store at the exit 96 project.  Mr. Lanier reported he had gotten the paper work about a week ago.  His company has been preparing the site for concrete pouring this Friday.  He hopes to continue pouring into next week and then turn things over for the plumbing.  He stated things were coming along well.  Mayor Wolff said the building would be delivered next week.
     There were no accounts payable for review.  The minutes from the meeting of 14 January were approved unanimously.
Old Business:
     Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil was not available for a report.
     Superintendent Sullivan gave an update on the park concession stand.  He stated things were moving along well and Alabama Power has exhibited an interest in partnering with the city in park development.
     Grant writer Cara Stallman advised the council they needed to pass a resolution awarding her the job of grant administration for the CDBG.  All monies will be paid from the grant and cost the city nothing.  Motion made and seconded.  Passed unanimously pending a review by the city attorney.
     Ms. Stallman also advised there were 3 engineering companies vying for the engineering contract.  She suggested the council meet and review each firm and make a decision as to who will be best suited for what the city needs.  Meeting will take place at 5:30 4 February prior to the next council meeting.
     City wide commercial garbage pickup was discussed at the previous meeting.  Mr. Sullivan had taken this for action and introduced Mr. Cassidy from Allied Waste.  Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Cassidy advised the council of the agreements that have been worked out with the businesses.  Businesses may get up to 4 blue trash carts as needed.  It is recommended they get a dumpster if more than 4 carts are needed.  There were several questions from the mayor and council about pickup and service.  It seems Mr. Cassidy answered everything satisfactorily considering under the heading of New Business, the city agreed to renew a 3 year contract with Allied Waste to continue serving the city.
     Mr. Sullivan re-addressed the bid results on the audio/video system wiring for the park concession stand.  Out of the bid request sent out, only Hurricane Electronics submitted a bid in the amount of $9,698.43.  The council approved accepting this bid and moved forward.
 Committee Reports:
     Council person Skinner gave his thanks to all for the work done on the park.
     Economic Director Bobby Skipper suggested the mayor and council consider doing something “nice” for the hotels in the area.  He talked of the occupancy fee that had been imposed on the hotels last year.  As a result of the monies from that fee, it appears the city will be getting a laundry mat and bakery business to move in.   Hopefully there will be some thought given so the hotel owners will know their increased charges did help bring about something useful.
New Business:
     The council approved Lewis Pest Control termite contract for the park concession/press box.  Cost $100.00 per year.
     As mentioned above, the Allied Waste Contract was renewed for 3 more years.
     Mr. Sullivan stated Southern Pine has been a big assist to the city in many areas.
     It was noted the sewer system problems on South Shipp Street were still being worked out.
     Mayor Wolff reminded all council members the Fair Campaign Practice Act paperwork is due by 31 January 2014.
Adjourned:  6:35 PM  

                                       City Council 21 Jan 2014

     Called to order at 6 PM by Mayor Wolff.  Invocation offered by Mr. Mike Lanier.
     Council person Upton was missing from roll call.
     Ms. Joy Wilson appeared before the council to discuss street lighting in the area where she has just completed her new house.  She spoke to the council about how dark it is on her street and asked if consideration could be given to putting up a temporary street light until permanent lighting could be installed.  Mayor Wolff assured her he would look into it.
     The agenda was approved by unanimous vote.
     Under the Mayors comments, Mr. Wolff asked Mr. Lanier to give a report on the progress of the slab for the grocery store at the exit 96 project.  Mr. Lanier reported he had gotten the paper work about a week ago.  His company has been preparing the site for concrete pouring this Friday.  He hopes to continue pouring into next week and then turn things over for the plumbing.  He stated things were coming along well.  Mayor Wolff said the building would be delivered next week.
     There were no accounts payable for review.  The minutes from the meeting of 14 January were approved unanimously.
Old Business:
     Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil was not available for a report.
     Superintendent Sullivan gave an update on the park concession stand.  He stated things were moving along well and Alabama Power has exhibited an interest in partnering with the city in park development.
     Grant writer Cara Stallman advised the council they needed to pass a resolution awarding her the job of grant administration for the CDBG.  All monies will be paid from the grant and cost the city nothing.  Motion made and seconded.  Passed unanimously pending a review by the city attorney.
     Ms. Stallman also advised there were 3 engineering companies vying for the engineering contract.  She suggested the council meet and review each firm and make a decision as to who will be best suited for what the city needs.  Meeting will take place at 5:30 4 February prior to the next council meeting.
     City wide commercial garbage pickup was discussed at the previous meeting.  Mr. Sullivan had taken this for action and introduced Mr. Cassidy from Allied Waste.  Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Cassidy advised the council of the agreements that have been worked out with the businesses.  Businesses may get up to 4 blue trash carts as needed.  It is recommended they get a dumpster if more than 4 carts are needed.  There were several questions from the mayor and council about pickup and service.  It seems Mr. Cassidy answered everything satisfactorily considering under the heading of New Business, the city agreed to renew a 3 year contract with Allied Waste to continue serving the city.
     Mr. Sullivan re-addressed the bid results on the audio/video system wiring for the park concession stand.  Out of the bid request sent out, only Hurricane Electronics submitted a bid in the amount of $9,698.43.  The council approved accepting this bid and moved forward.
 Committee Reports:
     Council person Skinner gave his thanks to all for the work done on the park.
     Economic Director Bobby Skipper suggested the mayor and council consider doing something “nice” for the hotels in the area.  He talked of the occupancy fee that had been imposed on the hotels last year.  As a result of the monies from that fee, it appears the city will be getting a laundry mat and bakery business to move in.   Hopefully there will be some thought given so the hotel owners will know their increased charges did help bring about something useful.
New Business:
     The council approved Lewis Pest Control termite contract for the park concession/press box.  Cost $100.00 per year.
     As mentioned above, the Allied Waste Contract was renewed for 3 more years.
     Mr. Sullivan stated Southern Pine has been a big assist to the city in many areas.
     It was noted the sewer system problems on South Shipp Street were still being worked out.
     Mayor Wolff reminded all council members the Fair Campaign Practice Act paperwork is due by 31 January 2014.
Adjourned:  6:35 PM  

City Council Meeting 14 Jan 2014

     Meeting called to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 PM.  Invocation by Mr. Mike Lanier.
     All council members present.  There were no visitors for the informal session.
     Mayor Wolff reported the city had received a check from Representative Charles Newton in the amount of $500.00.  This was a donation to the library and was given to support the genealogical section.
     The review of accountants payable, income/expense report, the minutes of the regular scheduled meeting of 17 December 2013 and special meeting of 18 December 2013 were all approved unanimously.

Old Business:
     Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil reported that he had placed several notices around the city to include South Main Street and others.  He advised the council notices had been removed on Josephine Holt Lane.  He has also placed notices on North Main Street.  He also advised the council that he will be returning to them to seek further direction when the legal waiting time from these notices has past.
     Superintendent Jeff Sullivan gave a report on the Evergreen Park Concession Stand/Press Box.  He stated weather and the holidays had hampered their progress in December but things were still going smoothly.  He stated requirements had been set for the audio installation but there had been no responses from any contractors.  He informed the council that, upon examination, he had determined the reason of no response was scope of requirements had been extremely strict.  He took out some of the restrictive areas and bids have been solicited again.  He stated he should have everything necessary to move forward by 17 January.
     Economic Director Bobby Skipper reported on the radio read meter program.  This is the city project to upgrade utility meters and software.  He stated bids are in and there is a meeting scheduled with the low bidder this Friday, 17 January at 10 AM in the Depot.
     Mr. Skipper also presented the council with a letter from Merchant Capital represented by Mr. Kenneth C. Funderbunk.  This letter deals with a continuing effort to bring a wood products business to Evergreen.  To view letter, see page entitled E. W. P. ltr. (Council 14 Jan).

Committee Reports:
     Council person Upton asked why the city is not using a local supplier for oil and byproducts.  Mayor Wolff stated the city is using Kelly oil.
     Discussion dealing with E 911 employees being paid by the city.  Current figures show the city pays approximately $9,000.00 per month into 911.  District 3 Commissioner David Cook was on hand for the meeting.  He responded to questions dealing with the counties involvement with 911.  Mr. Larry Ryland was also on hand and gave his input as a member of the 911 Board.  This issue will be addressed further in the near future.
     Council person Harris talked of a low pay issue for the electrical department.  Mayor Wolff advised a replacement for current supervisor Lavon Merrill’s will be needed.  He is retiring and issues with the electrical department will be reviewed.  Mayor Wolff asked permission from the council to allow him to evaluate and restructure the electrical department current pay scale and to advertise for a supervisor.  Permission was granted.

New Business:
     The payment by vendor report was approved.
     A request for a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday parade was approved.  Scheduled for 2 PM, Monday, 20 January 2014.   
     Superintendent Sullivan spoke on the employee boot allowance.  Current city policy is to allocate $100.00 per year for boots.  Mr. Sullivan informed the council the cost of boots has increased and asks the allowance be increased to $150.00 per year.  He also stated arrangements had been made with a local merchant to order these boots through him.  Increase approved.
     Mr. Sullivan also informed the council that an ALADOT resurfacing program was in store for highway 83 to run from Hwy. 31 to the Monroe County line.  This program needs a resolution from the city to allow ALADOT to seek funding from a Federal level.  There is no cost to the city.  Resolution approved.
     Mr. Sullivan also recommended non-internal combustion engines be allowed on boats/canoes, etc. at the Evergreen Park lake.  He also told the council the old Christmas trees picked up by the city had been placed in the lake to provide habitat for the fish population there.  The use of electric motors was approved.  
     In conjunction with the Christmas tree situation, Mr. Sullivan spoke on how difficult it has become for the city to get a decent tree for the city.  He stated he was advised and helped by a member of the ALATOM committee and has planted trees on a portion of city property on Factory Street.  Hopefully within a few years the city will be able to select Christmas trees from their own stock.
     Superintendent Sullivan addressed a problem with city wide garbage pickup.  The city is operating in the red each year with figures up to $80-100,000.00 being used.  Mr. Sullivan has been in contact with sister cities and examined how they handle their trash pickup.  Seems all these cities use commercial pickup via a vendor.  Mr. Sullivan suggested he be allowed to contact a vendor and work with them and the businesses currently using garbage pickup and attempt to work something out that will be acceptable to all parties involved.
     A request to the city for funding help for Lil Mac’s Fundamental Instructional Basketball Clinic was reviewed by Mr. Richard Hartley, City Attorney.  Mr. Hartley reported the request was not one the city could legally donate to.
     It was approved for City Hall to be closed on 20 January 2014 in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.
     It was also approved for a Carnival to set up on McIntyre Property by Fred’s from 20 January through 26 January 2014.
     An inspection agreement between the city and Seago Fire Protection, LLC was approved for the library sprinkler system.
     Mayor Wolff advised the council members that Fair Campaign Practices Act report is due by 31 January 2014.

     Mr. Michael Riley requested permission to address the council.  Mr. Riley expresses concern for our current governing system.  He stated he has 2 businesses located in Evergreen and pays taxes on both of them.  
     What seems to be his primary concern is the lack of communication within our city and county elected officials and the citizens.  He stated he expected the Mayor and council person for the area of his businesses contact him (as well as other residents/business owners) and work together toward improving our city and county.  He also expects the commissioner for the districts his residence and business to contract him as well.  Mr. Riley expresses he is tired of being the silent citizen.
     Mr. Riley pointed out he has an extensive amount of experience and education in landscaping and horticulture.  He stated that he’d seen 3 mistakes in a picture showing the Christmas tree project shown by Mr. Sullivan.
     There was a flare of tempers with some words exchanged.  Mr. Sullivan pointed out to Mr. Riley his business was the one mentioned earlier as to getting the city’s boot contract.  Mr. Riley informed Mr. Sullivan he didn’t really want the city’s boot contract that he had waited on the city to return support to him until it no longer mattered.

Mayor Wolff asked for a motion to adjourn.  Made, seconded and voted yes at 7:10 PM.

Conecuh County Commission Meeting 13 January 2014

     The meeting was called to order by Chairman Andrews at 9 AM.  Prayer by Mr. Lee Peacock followed by the pledge of allegiance.
     All members were present for roll call.  The agenda was approved by unanimous vote as were the minutes of the last regular meeting and the 30 December 2013 meeting.
     The payroll/personnel report showed 2 new hires, one for the corrections portion of the sheriff’s department, the other for jail medical care.  There was one separation from the sheriff’s department and 4 hours of overtime.  Unanimous vote.
     There were 2 claims over the board limit in the general fund and 1 claim over the board limit in the gasoline fund.  Claims were approved.
     Ms. M. E. Killebrew was recognized for her service to the county at this meeting.  Ms. Killebrew was presented a plaque showing her 13 year, 2 month service and her retirement effective 23 December 2013.  Congratulations to Ms. Killebrew.
     Revenue Commissioner Jimmy Bell came before the commission to thank them for the purchase of new vehicles for his department and asked to have the 2 old vehicles declared surplus and placed on the gov bid list.  Permission granted.
     Mr. Michael Lambert, Owner Conecuh County Emergency Medical Services came before the commission to inform them that cutbacks in emergency payments and insurance claims are damaging the ambulance service to the point it may be monetarily impossible to continue to operate.  Mr. Lambert brought samples from surrounding counties with the same primary demographics as Conecuh to show the commission how the counties are providing assistance to emergency medical services.  Mr. Lambert stated he had been in the ambulance service for 18 years and had a strong desire to continue.  The commission agreed to undertake a study, review contracts from other counties and see what solution could be worked out.
     Concerned citizen Michael Riley spoke on perceived problems with fire and rescue funding.  He also stated the fire/rescue went hand in hand with the ambulance service, all services we do not want our county to lose.  Mr. Riley furnished the commission with figures of monetary returns to the fire and rescue squads from the state.  The monies returned to the several departments within the county is well below the amount the county pays into the state for this coverage’s.  Mr. Riley stressed just how much was the security of having a good fire/rescue team worth to a person.  He spoke of a personal situation in which his house had burned.  His primary concern was based on the wellbeing of our citizens and their families.  It was noted the commission currently gives each department $1,200.00 per year to help with expenses.  He also noted that the Conecuh County Rescue Squad may be in danger of closing due to a lack of funding to pay bills.
     Mr. Johnny Brock, EMA Director, reported that a fuel spill had occurred on I-65 and required action be taken.  He stated approximately 125 gallons of diesel had been spilled.
     Mr. Brock also informed the commission he had been involved in a fire in the Fairview community.  This fire was a result of an illegal tire dump.  Something ignited the tires and made it impossible not to see.  Mr. Brock stated all fires resulting from illegal tire dumps required he report them resulting in ADEM involvement.
     Mr. Brock also advised the commission of a meeting in Washington D. C. dealing with EMPG funding for EMA.  He has consistently attended these meetings (a requirement for EMPG continued funding) and had money planned into his budget to cover the cost.  It was approved for Mr. Brock to attend this meeting.
     Mr. Winston Foshee, County Engineer reported next.  He informed the commission that applications for a grant writer and engineer for the impending CDBG water grant from Brooklyn to Covington County line had been received.  There is one app from Ms. Cara Stallman for the grant writer position and 2 applications for the engineering portion.  Recommend the commission award the grant writer position to Ms. Stallman (approved) and the engineering position will be discussed further at the next meeting.
     This CDBG grant also required 2 resolution be passed.  One resolution for a “Policy of Conduct” and another dealing with “Fair Housing” practices.  They were passed by unanimous vote.
     Mr. Foshee informed the commission 13 old trucks were on the gov deal list and should be receiving bids next Tuesday.  Mr. Foshee said if anyone desired to bid on these trucks they could review them at website .  Anyone expericing difficulty accessing the site or needing help contact him at the engineers office.
     Both the new and old side cutters are in operation.  Mr. Foshee recommended holding the old side cutter until March then place it on gov deals.  He stated this would give him a few months to catch up on road trimming.  This was approved.
     Conecuh County Sheriff Edwin Booker asked Mr. Foshee how often gasoline and diesel are ordered at the shop.  Mr. Foshee advised the sheriff he monitored the amounts on hand and took action as necessary.
     County Administrator Judy Covan asked about seeking a contractor to clean the outside of the Government Center.  An unsightly mold growth and general dirt needs to be cleaned away.  Approved. 
     Ms. Covan also announced the results of the merit board and interview board was back for the clerk position currently open in the commission office.  Ms. Evelyn Hall had placed highest in all areas.  It was recommended she be hired immediately.  Approved.
     Ms. Covan asked the commission if it stood ready to take any action on the “Rules of Procedure” that had been under review.  It was determined this would be a topic addressed at the next meetings work session.
     Fence bids will be opened on the 10th.
     Insurance coverage for the medical aspects dealing with the jail has been covered and went into effect 1 January 2014.
     County Attorney Anthony Bishop was unavailable for the meeting.
     Chairman Andrews remarks:
     The prisoner contract with the city has been reviewed.  Mr. Andrews informed the commission and sheriff that, with the exception of Baldwin County, Conecuh has the highest cost contract in the state.  After short discussion, it was decided to keep the current contract in place through the remainder of this fiscal year.
     Both Doctor Roberts and Nurse Monica Johnson have been provided with contracts to continue working with prisoner care at the jail.
     A representative from the Black Belt Heritage Group will be at the next commission meeting.
     It was asked if there were any media remarks and I questioned the commission as to the status of the $175,000.00 that had been furnished for Evergreen Wood Products building improvement.  I was immediately advised that his was a LOAN to the Industrial Development Board and the attorney had it under review.
Motion to adjourn at 10:05 AM approved.

Side issue dealing with the $175,000.00.  
     It was stressed by Chairman Andrews and Commissioner Cook this was a LOAN to the IDB.  I hold recordings where it is stated this money would be repaid by 1 January 2014 and, in the event of default by Evergreen Wood Products, the IDB would pay these funds back to the county.
     If this is true, why does the attorney have anything under review?  If there is a LOAN, the word LOAN itself implies it will be paid back.  Where are the tax payer's  dollars?

Commission Work Session 25 Nov 13
     A work session of the Conecuh County Commission was called for 3 PM on 25 November, 2013.
      Ms. Minor was the first to speak.  She represents Colonial Supplemental Insurance Corp. she discussed a volunteer Insurance supplemental policy for county workers.  She spoke of the benefits and coverage and stated a branch office was to open in Evergreen.
      County Engineer Foshee was next and talked of the counties inmate pickup policy.  Mr. Foshee has a written policy that he has used for approximately 3 years but there are now portions of it that are being outdated.  This policy was originated in an attempt to limit the number of trips into and out of the jail area.  He asked the commissioners for guidance as to what policy should be followed.
     Chairman Andrews expressed his pleasure with the policy as written.
     Commissioner Millender pointed out there were currently two sets of inmates being picked up at the jail, one for the engineering department and one for the animal shelter.  He desired to know if this was to be the policy followed completely.  He stated that there should only be one set of rules to be followed with the inmate policy, the animal shelter and the engineering department should not have separate guidelines for the same persons and work.
     Approximately a 20 minutes discussion involving Mr. Foshee, Sheriff Booker and the commissioners ensued.  Final determination, Sheriff will supply inmates when he can.
     Next in line are the county van and pickup trucks.  It seems an IRS audit revealed that non-emergency/essential vehicles are being driven home by employees.  If the vehicle does not have an extra external fuel tank mounted on it, a $3.00 per day fee should be paid if it is taken home.  From here forward, the charge will be paid as appropriate.  
     It was discussed to some degree that 2 or 3 of the old trucks be held out from the sale and used in other departments.  Commissioner McCreary stated if they were in too poor condition to keep in engineering, why are they good enough for other departments?  Again, an item for the regular session.
     Mr. Foshee readdressed a problem on the ATRIP project grants.  There can be no encroachments onto the road right of way, if there is, ATRIP will not provide the grant.
Currently one person on County Road 5 has a rather large brick structure that comes within 6 feet of the road and it must be moved back.  Mr. Foshee said he had spoken to a brick mason and the approximate cost to fix this situation is $1000.00 and he proposed the county pay for it.  Mr. Millender asked if the person who owns the structure had received permission from the county to build it that close to the road and could they produce proof of this, if not, why should the county pay for its removal.  It was decided that this would be discussed and voted on during the regular meeting.
     EMA Director Johnny Brock was next.  He stated he had some items to be addressed in regular session.  He also stated EMPG clams paperwork has been completed with the exception of the chairman’s signature.
     Chairman Andrews spoke of the formation of a safety committee discussed at a previous meeting.  He asked Mr. Brock if he would serve as chair to that committee.  He also gave the assurance it would not be a “forever” appointment, the chairmanship will rotate.  Mr. Brock accepted.
     Ms. Booker, interim Director E 911 advised the commission that a change in policy has curtailed the telecom money income from phone taxes.  This money will be going to the state and will be disbursed from Montgomery probably in mid-December but until it is, she needed funds to operate.  Chairman Andrews advised Ms. Booker to her records together and make a request during the regular session.
     Commissioner Millender asked Ms. Booker if her previous request for an audit, inventory and salary factors had been answered.  Ms. Booker stated she had received nothing at this time.  Ms. Booker was asked if the state audit would suffice.
     Three members of the Center for Governmental Services were on hand again to offer their assistance in any aspects toward helping Conecuh and Evergreen grow.   They gave their opinions and thoughts on several aspects of how to make the county grow and how to hold onto this growth. 
     Ms. August, State Internal Affairs Officer spoke to the commission.  She encouraged the commissioners to arrange for a Public Affairs Officer position for the county citing several situations where a PAO would be beneficial to the county.
     Ms. Skipper, Commission receptionist, spoke next on the progress of the Conecuh County Website.  You may check this website at:  Ms. Skipper is leaving her job to start a new pursuit as a city of Evergreen employee.
     Ms. Ruby Straughn, personnel/payroll clerk brought forth a report on the Alabama State Employees Credit Union.  Ms. Straughn advised the commission she had researched the Credit Union and that any county employee could become a member.  The credit union offers much to its members such as, normally reduced interest rates on personal, automobile or home financing loans.  To become a member one must request to join, have a minimum $25.00 checking deposit and $6.00 savings deposit.  Furthermore, they must be on direct deposit and have an email address.  A special program is currently in effect that, after being a member for 30 days, the $25.00 required to remain in the checking account could be released into one’s regular account.  Applications are available on line.
     End of work session, regular session to follow.

                      Commission Meeting 25 November 2013
  I am sorry for the tardiness but the meetings for the commission on Monday lasted more than 4 hours.  I got them in as my scheduled allowed.
     Call to order at 5 PM by Chairman Andrews.  Prayer by Mr. Marc Williams, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
     Roll call revealed all present.
     The agenda was approved as published.  The minutes for the previous meeting was approved.
     1 promotion in the engineering department, 23 hours of overtime from the jail.
     No claims over the board limit requiring approval.
     Ms. Francis Floyd was on the agenda to ask about funding for the Old Town Heritage Museum project.  Ms. Floyd was a no show.
     Mr. Bobby Skipper, Evergreen Economic Director came before the commission to give a status of industry report that has been the topic of discussion for the past 2 1/2-3 months.  Mr. Skipper announced the attorneys had met several times to include those from the state, county, city and IDB.  One of the issues to arise from these meetings is that there be a level of protection dealing with the city and counties monies.
     Current problem encountered by the incoming company is, the bank financing the project does not want to accept property and/or equipment as collateral but instead wants an obligation of revenues amounting to $1,725,000.00.  The bank has also requested an audit statement from the county to ensure financials can be met.  Mr. Skipper expressed that this is a particularly time sensitive issue and action needs to occur ASAP.  Attorney Bishop said efforts were being made to find a different lending institution that would accept the property, building and equipment as collateral.  
     When asked bluntly, Attorney Bishop revealed he did not feel comfortable at this point, he stated there were several blanks that must be filled in.  One of the items that must be addressed is the issue of the counties debt ceiling and what how would this additional amount impact it.  Ms. Covan advised that was being looked into and she had no answer at this time.
     At one point Chairman Andrews asked Mr. Marc Williams, IDB member, what his thoughts and ideas were on this issue.  Mr. Williams expressed that he personally, and the IDB also, had confidence in Mr. Skipper and hoped he would act in the best interest of the county and city and help get businesses into the area ‘cause many residents need employment.
     Chairman Andrews asked attorney Bishop how critical the time line was on this issue.  Mr. Bishop stated it was time sensitive and he recommended that the commission set a public hearing (one of the requirements that must be met), at its earliest convenience.  The public hearing does not obligate the county to the project.  The city has a public hearing set for 5 December.  It was determined there was insufficient time for the county to meet its proper notification factor for the hearing.  
     Motion by Commissioner Cook to hold the public hearing on 12 December at 5 PM in the commission chambers.  Lonnnnnnggggggg Pause.
     After a failure to get a second in an extended period of time, Chairman Andrews relinquished the chair to Mr. Millender, the senior commissioner there and seconded the motion, then left the floor open for further discussion.  Mr. Millender refused to accept the chairmanship.
     After discussion from the floor, mostly in encouragement of having the public hearing, Mr. Andrews then asked Attorney Bishop if they failed to take action what impact a time delay would have on the project.  Mr. Bishops response was, he had asked that same question but had received no answer.  Mr. Skipper spoke up and said he was sure the company would love to say they could survive and endure the delay but all that would equate to a reshuffling of business arrangements and cause them to miss deadlines they had set with a customer base.
     After things refused to move forward it comes to light from a member of the commission body that some underlying issues need to be resolved prior to moving on the vote.  Further questioning showed these issues needed to be addressed in executive session.
     A scramble went out as to find a graceful way out of this situation.  Mr. Cook asked if he could withdraw his motion and was informed he could not, Mr. Andrews was advised after his second, the issue must go to vote even though Mr. Millender had not accepted the chair.  Finally I told Attorney Bishop that any commissioner could call for the question, stop the discussion and force the vote.  Commissioner Cook called for the question.  The vote was 2 ayes (Cook, Andrews), 2 nays (Millender, McCreary) and 1 abstain (Hildreth), leading the motion to failure.
     Commissioner McCreary made a motion to go into executive session, seconded by Cook and passed unanimously.
Resumed  regular session.
     First item of business, motion to hold public hearing 12 December 5 PM on the Evergreen Wood Products to be held in the main courtroom upstairs.  Motion carried by 4 ayes, 1 abstain by Commissioner Hildreth.
     EMA Director Johnny Brock was next on the agenda.  Mr. Brock reported to the commission that he had applied for a hazard mitigation grant and it had been approved, however, the grant came with a match required.  Mr. Brock had laid plans to pay the match from his EMA funds but was informed by Mr. John Clyde Riggs of the ATRC that they would be paying that match for the county.  Furthermore, they will be helping to update the plan.
     Second item, EMA has updated its emergency operations plan in keeping with a requirement it be updated every 5 years.  Requires approval and signing by the chairman.  Approved unanimously.  
     EMA sponsored a storm spotter class a few weeks back and had a great turn out.  A meteorologist from the national weather service came down to conduct the class.  Trains citizens what to be on the alert for in the event of inclement  weather.
     County Engineer Foshee came forth and spoke on the 15 pickup trucks being replaced.  He reminded the commissioners there had been talk of holding back the 3 best old truck for use in other departments.
     Final determination, hold back the 2 best vehicle and place the others on gov deals sometime in January or there about.  13 Trucks declared surplus.  Recommendation to sale 13 trucks, carried unanimously.
     Next to be addressed was the right of way encroachments and ATRIP projects.  For a project to receive ATRIP funding there can be no manmade obstructions in the right of way.  Several mailboxes have already been moved back at county expense.  A new problem has arisen with a brickwork column that is on the right of way.  Mr. Foshee knows this must be moved and recommends the county pay the cost of this change, (approximately $1,000.00).  Mr. Bishop advised them it would be illegal for the county to do the work on removing and restoring the brickwork on private property.  Motion was made by Commissioner Cook and seconded by Commissioner Hildreth to have the county do the work, motion failed.
     Mr. Foshee brought up Johnsonville Loop and the discussion on pulverizing the pavement.  Mr. Foshee said he would like to start that project after the first of the year and requested he be allowed to send out bid on the job.  Motion made and carried to send out bid request.
     Mr. Foshee has engineering department Christmas dinner scheduled for 19 December and wanted to make sure the commission bought off on it.  No problems.
     County Administrator Covan advised the commission she was in receipt of an email from Jim Allen, owner and publisher of the Monthly View newspaper asking for consideration that his paper be considered for advertising county business.  Commissioner Cook forwarded a motion the commissioners do a “Seasons Greetings” advertisement with this paper to include a picture.  Second by Commissioner Millender, passed unanimously.  No further advertising was approved for the Monthly View. 
     A request has been made by the Circuit Clerks office that window blinds be put on the windows facing the hall.  The problem being, they are closed all day on Wednesday but are at work in the office spaces.  Citizens see them inside and try to gain entrance even though the closed sign is displayed prominently.  With the blinds in place, it would limit the public’s view inside.  One bid, $589.47 from Connie Manufacturing for 6 shades.  Motion made and carried.
     Ms. Covan read a resignation letter from Ms. Skipper.  She is leaving the counties employment effect 29 November.
     Ms. Covan reminded the commission they had agreed to advertise for a position of maintenance worker.  There have been 4 applications returned and they have been routed through the merit board for grading.  Mr. Willie Johnson graded highest.  Motion made to hire him at the earliest convenience.  Letter to Mr. Johnson advising him of his hiring and asking when he can report to work.
     Mr. Millender offered a motion that a system of checks and balances be reinstituted to have the maintenance person establish a method whereby the commission can be aware of what he has completed and any open items.
     A resolution was read dealing with the purchase and financing of the excavator.  Payments per month, $3,043.62 for 5 years.  $182,617.44 Total cost.  Motion made and passed unanimously.
     A request for sheriff’s cars (2, 2013 Chevy Tahoe) to be purchased from Capitol Chevrolet.    Mr. Millender made a motion that they purchase these 2 vehicles and declare the 2 that will be turned in as surplus and placed on Gov. Deal.   Motion was amended to allow the purchase of 2 Tahoe’s.  Remainder of the motion was tabled until next meeting.
     Report from the maintenance person on the status of the DHR building.  Soffits need to be replaced around the patio, only one roof leak noted near the back door, ditch area needs bush hogging, some new bulbs need replacing.
     Animal Shelter roof replacement was not put in budget.  Some bids are in with some running as high as $12-16,000.00.  This will be taken up at next meeting.
     Ms. Booker returned with the paperwork requested during the working session dealing with out of date bills brought about due to the lack of telecom money.  A motion was made to pay the E911 bills from the budget and when E911 receives the funds, the budget will be paid back.  Motion carried.
     A conference will be held next week in Birmingham.  The commission desires Ms. Booker attend.
     A motion that the county participate in the Alabama State Credit Union.  Passed unanimously.
     Meeting adjourned 7:33.

              City Council 19 November 2013

     Under Mayor’s remarks Mr. Wolff stated the grocery store was on it’s way with more to come.
     The review of accounts payable passed by unanimous vote as did the minutes of the previous meeting.
Old Business:
     Superintendent Jeff Sullivan spoke on the status of the City Park Concession/Press Box Project.  He noted there had been some problems discovered in the wiring aspects of the building.  These had come to light after he had visited some of our sister cities and looked at their set up.  
     Mr. Sullivan stated there had been no plans initially made for low voltage controls to handle such items as:  The scoreboard, public address system, music and others.  Also, video security was mentioned.  (What a shame we even have to think about such a thing).  He said the situation can be addressed now or after completion but would be easier now.  Mr. Sullivan went on to state he had no estimate on cost but could work something up.  The council told Mr. Sullivan to proceed with getting estimates of both time and money together.
     Kudos to the cities of Andalusia and Brewton for their assistance and working with Mr. Sullivan to help Evergreen out.
     Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil gave a report on the city clean up and questioned what was to happen to the old apartment complex on Magnolia Street.  (The mold/mildew buildings).  Attorney Hartley advised Mr. McNeil to hold up on any further actions there as he was attempting to ensure everything had been handled properly from the legal aspect.
     Attorney Hartley presented the council with an updated ordinance dealing with regulating grass, weed, debris and other nuisances.  After discussion, the ordinance was adopted by majority vote, 1 abstention.  Also, Mr. Hartley introduced another ordinance dealing with unsafe structures and the manner in which they were to be handled.  This ordinance also passed by majority vote, there was 1 abstention.
     The voting for these ordinances was conducted after a motion to suspend the rules to allow the voting.
     The closing of City Hall on Wednesday, 27 November was addressed and approved by unanimous vote.  The employees will be charged with a vacation day for that.
     Executive session was next on the agenda but was postponed until the remainder of normal business was conducted.
Committee Reports:
     Councilperson Upton proposed the city take over the maintenance of the D.A.V. erected monument.  This maintenance aspect is to be limited to primarily grounds upkeep, the continued adding of names and improvements are to still be the responsibility of the D.A.V.  Approved by unanimous vote.
     Mr. Sullivan reported on his research for the proper material to be used in the repair/rework of EverFun Park.  He reported the cost factors he had discovered dealing with this item and recommended the city go with a manufactured wood style product which has just as long a lifespan as the rubber product alternative with a much less cost factor.  Council voted to accept Mr. Sullivan’s proposal.
     Council Person Skinner asked the city evaluate a possible amphitheater sight at the park.  He said there was a hillside that could easily be converted into an observation area and a variety of entertainment could be set up on the area below the hill.
New Business:
     Tax Revenue Enhancement agreement revenue administration contract with RDS was approved.
     Tax revenue enhancement agreement business licenses discovery/recovery with RDS was approved.
Motion to go into executive session to discuss legal matters was approved.
Resume normal session.
     Motion by Councilperson Upton the city pays the plaintiffs’ attorney fees dealing with the lawsuit on redistricting.  Motion seconded and passed by unanimous vote.
Motion to adjourn.

Conecuh County Commission Meeting 13 January 2014
By: James Leon Windham
 The meeting was called to order by Chairman Andrews at 9 AM. Prayer by Mr. Lee Peacock followed by the pledge of allegiance.
 All members were present for roll call. The agenda was approved by unanimous vote as were the minutes of the last regular meeting and the 30 December 2013 meeting.
 The payroll/personnel report showed 2 new hires, one for the corrections portion of the sheriff’s department, the other for jail medical care. There was one separation from the sheriff’s department and 4 hours of overtime. Unanimous vote.
 There were 2 claims over the board limit in the general fund and 1 claim over the board limit in the gasoline fund. Claims were approved.
 Ms. M. E. Killebrew was recognized for her service to the county at this meeting. Ms. Killebrew was presented a plaque showing her 13 year, 2 month service and her retirement effective 23 December 2013.
 Congratulations to Ms. Killebrew.
 Revenue Commissioner Jimmy Bell came before the commission to thank them for the purchase of new vehicles for his department and asked to have the 2 old vehicles declared surplus and placed on the gov bid list. Permission granted.
 Mr. Michael Lambert, Owner Conecuh County Emergency Medical Services came before the commission to inform them that cutbacks in emergency payments and insurance claims are damaging the ambulance service to the point it may be monetarily impossible to continue to operate. Mr. Lambert brought samples from surrounding counties with the same primary demographics as Conecuh to show the commission how the counties are providing assistance to emergency medical services. Mr. Lambert stated he had been in the ambulance service for 18 years and had a strong desire to continue. The commission agreed to undertake a study, review contracts from other counties and see what solution could be worked out.
 Concerned citizen Michael Riley spoke on perceived problems with fire and rescue funding. He also stated the fire/rescue went hand in hand with the ambulance service, all services we do not want our county to lose. Mr. Riley furnished the commission with figures of monetary returns to the fire and rescue squads from the state. The monies returned to the several departments within the county is well below the amount the county pays into the state for this coverage. Mr. Riley stressed just how valuable was the security of having a good fire/rescue team worth to a person. He spoke of a personal situation in which his house had burned. His primary concern was based on the well-being of our citizens and their families. It was noted the commission currently gives each department $1,200.00 per year to help with expenses. He also noted that the Conecuh County Rescue Squad may be in danger of closing due to a lack of funding to pay bills.
 Mr. Johnny Brock, EMA Director, reported that a fuel spill had occurred on I-65 and required action be taken. He stated approximately 125 gallons of diesel had been spilled.
 Mr. Brock also informed the commission his department become involved in a fire in the Fairview community due to environmental regulations. This fire was a result of an illegal tire dump. Something ignited the tires and the smoke made it impossible not to see. Mr. Brock stated all fires resulting from illegal tire dumps required he report them resulting in ADEM involvement.
 Mr. Brock also advised the commission of a meeting in Washington D. C. dealing with EMPG funding for EMA. He has consistently attended these meetings (a requirement for EMPG continued funding) and had money planned into his budget to cover the cost. It was approved for Mr. Brock to attend this meeting.
 Mr. Winston Foshee, County Engineer reported next. He informed the commission that applications for a grant writer and engineer for the impending CDBG water grant from Brooklyn to Covington County line had been received. There is one app from Ms. Cara Stallman for the grant writer position and 2 applications for the engineering portion. Recommend the commission award the grant writer position to Ms. Stallman (approved) and the engineering position will be discussed further at the next meeting.
 This CDBG grant also required 2 resolutions be passed. One resolution for a "Policy of Conduct" and another dealing with "Fair Housing" practices. They were passed by unanimous vote.
 Mr. Foshee informed the commission 13 old trucks were on the gov deal list and should be receiving bids next Tuesday. Mr. Foshee said if anyone desired to bid on these trucks they could review them at website If anyone tries to access them and has difficulties, contact him at the engineer’s office.
 Both the new and old side cutters are in operation. Mr. Foshee recommended holding the old side cutter until March then place it on gov deals. He stated this would give him a few months to catch up on road trimming. This was approved.
 Conecuh County Sheriff Edwin Booker asked Mr. Foshee how often gasoline and diesel are ordered at the shop. Mr. Foshee advised the sheriff he monitored the amounts on hand and took action as necessary.
 County Administrator Judy Covan asked about seeking a contractor to clean the outside of the Government Center. An unsightly mold growth and general dirt needs to be cleaned away. Approved.
 Ms. Covan also announced the results of the merit board and interview board were back for the clerk position currently open in the commission office. Ms. Evelyn Hall had placed highest in all areas. It was recommended she be hired immediately. Approved.
 Ms. Covan asked the commission if it stood ready to take any action on the "Rules of Procedure" that had been under review. It was determined this would be a topic addressed at the next meeting's work session.
 Insurance coverage for the medical aspects dealing with the jail have been covered and went into effect 1 January 2014.
 County Attorney Anthony Bishop was unavailable for the meeting.
 Chairman Andrews remarks:
 The prisoner contract with the city has been reviewed. Mr. Andrews informed the commission and sheriff that, with the exception of Baldwin County, Conecuh has the highest cost contract in the state. After short discussion, it was decided to keep the current contract in place through the remainder of this fiscal year.
 Both Doctor Roberts and Nurse Monica Johnson have been provided with contracts to continue working with prisoner care at the jail.
 A representative from the Black Belt Heritage Group will be at the next commission meeting.
 It was asked if there were any media remarks and I questioned the commission as to the status of the $175,000.00 that had been furnished for Evergreen Wood Products building improvement. I was immediately advised that his was a LOAN to the Industrial Development Board and the attorney had it under review.
 Motion to adjourn at 10:05 AM approved.
 Side issue dealing with the $175,000.00.
 It was stressed by Chairman Andrews and Commissioner Cook this was a LOAN to the IDB. I hold recordings where it is stated this money would be repaid by 1 January 2014 and, in the event of default by Evergreen Wood Products, the IDB would pay these funds back to the county.
 If this is true, why does the attorney have anything under review? If there is a LOAN, the word LOAN itself implies it will be paid back. Where are the tax payer's dollars?

Defense Attorney Presses For Speedy Trial In Windham Case

Press Release from Montgomery Attorney Julian McPhillips
     Calling the "Interference with custody" criminal charges filed by Evergreen resident Terry Gray as a trumped-up charge and malicious retaliation against his client James Leon Windham, Montgomery trial lawyer Julian McPhillips today filed a Motion for a Speedy Trial with the Circuit Court of Conecuh County.
     "All Mr. Windham was doing was trying to protect the young children of Mr. Gray, after they were dropped off by a school bus driver at the Animal Shelter, and left unattended without adult supervision," said McPhillips. "Mr. Windham should have received a Good Citizenship Medal for taking the kids to their mother," attorney McPhillips stated.
     "No good deed goes unpunished," said McPhillips, who added that Mr. Gray's charges against Mr. Windham were motivated by an earlier dispute between the two men. "There was a total absence of specific intent by Mr. Windham to assume unlawful control of a child, as required by law," said Mr. McPhillips.
     Local judge Jack Weaver has recused himself from trying the case, and on December 12, 2013, Chief Justice Roy Moore appointed Covington County Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan to hear the case.

Providing Medical Service To Inmates At Jail Becomes An Emergency
By: James Leon Windham

The special meeting of the Conecuh County Commission was called to order at 9 AM Monday, December 30 by Chairman Andrews, followed by prayer and the pledge of allegiance.
Commissioner McCreary was missing at roll call but appeared approximately 5 minutes after the meeting got underway.
The only item on the agenda was to discuss issues between Tri-County Medical and the contract with Conecuh County jail.
Dr. Gerald Roberts, Nurse Monica Johnson and Sheriff Edwin Booker were on hand to assist as possible.
Dr. Roberts was recognized and asked to speak first. He was quite quick to point out that the current contract with Tri-County Medical ends on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 and Tri-County has been miss-managed to the point of no recovery, so therefore the medical coverage for the jail cannot be covered by Tri-County. Tri-County looses its Federal Insurance coverage and there is no insurance (primarily malpractice insurance) in place to cover its employees practicing medicine at the jail.
There was discussion between the commissioners, sheriff, Dr. Roberts and Ms. Johnson about the possibility of coverage via Meadow Brook, the county’s current insurance provider. Ms. Covan advised she had talked with Meadow Brook and to purchase extra coverage for this would cost the county $2,750.00 per year but there are no clear lines as to what this will cover. Dr. Roberts offered an alternative company (Pro Assurance) should Meadow Brook not offer ample coverage.
Ms. Covan was dispatched to make contact with Meadow Brook to get a more clear definition if possible. She was unable to make contact.
Further discussion among the group determined Ms. Johnson would have to be paid by the county and as such, she must become a county employee. With time being of the essence, Commissioner McCreary offered a motion that both Dr. Roberts and Ms. Johnson be issued a 30 day contract to continue providing medical care, pending approval by the county attorney. He reasoned that should there be no resolution to the situation within 30 days, the contract could be extended.
After some discussion, the commission voted to accept the motion and move forward on finding a permanent cure for this issue.

Sheriff Offers Emergency Phone Program To Elderly Residents
By: James Leon Windham
Sheriff Edwin Booker asked that the following information be published for the benefit of all senior Conecuh County residents.
The Sheriff’s department currently has a drive underway to supply our senior citizens with a cell phone to use in case of emergency. These cell phones will only be capable of making emergency 911 calls. Phones will only be given out to those who do not have a cell phone or other emergency notification device.
Sheriff Booker ask that anyone with an old, unused cell phone please donate them to the Sheriff’s Department and he will have them fixed in such a manner they can only be used for emergency calls. Sheriff Booker assures everyone that there will be no way any donated phones will be traceable to any individual. Again, he has a company standing by that will modify these phones to 911 use only.

Evergreen City Council Meeting 17 Dec. 2013

By: James Leon Windham
Call to order by Mayor Wolff at 6 PM. Invocation by Mr. Mike Lanier. Roll call showed two council members absent, Ms. Harris and Mr. Upton.
During the informal session Mr. Robbie Bolton, Robbie’s Dozier Service, to the council he was prepared to finish the drive into his business on Wild Avenue and asked the city to supply the asphalt considering it was on right of way and would assist in preventing water erosion runoff. Mr. Bolton had figured the cost of the asphalt at $3,900.00 and he will do the labor. Approved.
The agenda was approved.
Mayor Wolff extended his thanks to all the city workers for a job well done this year and reminded them the Christmas Party would be Friday. Mayor Wolff stated the Cooperative District efforts dealing with the Liberty Hill project were coming on well. He asked Mr. Lanier if they were prepared to pour the concrete. Mr. Lanier has crews on hand, he’s just waiting for directions to place anchor points and dimensions.
A review of accounts payable was completed. The income/expense report for November 2013 was approved as were the minutes from the previous meeting.
Old Business:
Economic Director Bobby Skipper advised the council there was an executive session meeting with the county commission at the government center at 5 PM on Tuesday. He is hoping for a possible vote from the commission dealing with approval of Evergreen Wood Products project agreement. Attorney Hartley advised the council he will be in Jacksonville on Tuesday and stated he wished to speak to the council prior to any voting.
Mr. Bob Carter, spoke on the sewer project to take place at King’s Crossing. It will require a bore under the tracks. Bids for this bore had been let with responses in. Blankenship Construction is the low bidder at $30,000.00. This was approved.
Grant Writer Cara Stallman stated she needed two resolutions approved to be able to accept a $450,000.00 grant for generators. The city is required to put $45,000.00 cash and $10,000.00 in-kind works.
Compliance Officer Bobby McNeil reported he has placed posters on the Magnolia Apartments. The new owner has contacted Mr. McNeil and wishes to talk to him about the apartments prior to tearing them down.
Committee Reports:
Councilperson Miller told of complaints coming to him about people speeding on Bellville Street by the tennis courts. He asked if speed bumps could be put in place. Advised to contact Superintendent Sullivan.
The sewer situation for Ms. Fantroy’s property is awaiting a survey for easement rights.
Council person Skinner invited everyone out to see the park. He is very happy with the progress.
The council was advised the mechanic shop needed a better vehicle, old one is becoming unreliable. Motion to purchase from State Bid list approved for $18,000.00 truck.
New Business:
2013 payment by Vendor report was approved.
Mr. Bobby Skipper asked for approval to incorporate 61 acres of the Park Expansion property into the city limits. Some discussion arose that it may already be in the city limits. Attorney Hartley advised they should find out for sure if it was in the city limits, if already there good, if not there is a procedure to follow.
A motion for City Hall to be closed on Wednesday, 1 January 2014.
Motion to go into executive session passed. Executive session from 6:30 PM until 6:45 PM.
Return to regular meeting.
Motion made to allow Attorney Hartley to pursue settlement in lawsuit. Passed. No info on what the lawsuit involved.

Commission Meeting 9 December 2013
By: James Leon Windham
Chairman Andrews called the meeting to order at 9 AM. Prayer by Mr. Lee Peacock followed by the pledge of allegiance.
The agenda was approved as written.
Under approval of the minutes Chairman Andrews addressed the commission about the length of published minutes. He stated there were 14 pages of minutes from the previous commission meeting and suggested that the minutes should be abbreviated more and a copy of the verbal recording be saved as the official edition of minutes. After some discussion on this issue Mr. Andrews suggested Administrator Covan gather copies of commission meetings from other counties and see how they record their minutes. The minutes from the previous meeting was approved.
Under payroll/personnel report there was one new hire for the sheriffs department and one new hire for the county as maintenance man. There were 11 hours of overtime at the jail.
Mr. Bobby Skipper was next on the agenda but was not on hand.
Ms. Francis Floyd spoke to the commission on the Conecuh County Old Town Heritage Museum on Hwy. 84. Ms. Floyd asked the commission to assist the museum with funding to get it up and properly running. She also asked that a commissioner serve on the Board of Directors for the group. Mr. Andrews asked Commissioner Millender to serve. Mr. Millender agreed to serve but suggested that Commissioner McCreary serve considering it was his district. Mr. McCreary said it was not his district but was Commissioner Hildreth's district. Mr. Hildreth agreed to serve (I think just to stop the buck passing, it really is Mr. McCreary's district).
Ms. Floyd also asked that a day (preferably 1 July) be set aside to be called Conecuh County Heritage Day. This is common to the Black Belt area of Alabama and is basically observed in 19 counties. Commissioner Millender suggested Ms. Linda Vice of RC&D be contacted and invited to the January meeting. Ms. Vice has extraordinary insight in organizations such as this.
Mr. Sid Lambert, Animal Shelter Department Head was next on the agenda. He said there were 11 cats and 9 dogs currently housed in the shelter. He stated required medications were ordered and should be on hand this week. These are needed for the state certification they hope to get.
Mr. Lambert stated he had tried to get the shelter on the Science Diet free dog food plan but there were not enough adoptions for them to qualify for the program.
Mr. Lambert also asked when it would be permissible to do a full time hire for the animal shelter and allow the current part time employee to be put in a full time position so they could acquire benefits. Mr. Lambert was advised that due to ongoing litigation dealing with a workman's comp situation a full time position could not be filled at this time.
Mr. Lambert requested a resolution to the leaking roof situation at the shelter. Current prices quoted for repairs is $4,300.00 and for a new roof, $13,000.00. Discussion on this item reflected the repaired roof was only expected to last 4-5 years. Ms. Covan was tasked with seeing if she could find the money in the budget somewhere to do this work. Mr. Lambert also requested the commission to consider fencing the area around the animal shelter, anticipated cost of $11,000.00-$13,000.00. Commissioner Millender asked if anyone knew where the counties land lines were for the animal shelter answer, no. Mr. Millender suggested someone should find out the land lines before putting out bids or accepting offers.
Mr. Lambert also brought forth a request for a policy for "Sharp Sticks and Blood Borne Pathogens" be adopted. He stated he had submitted a document a month ago and action was needed on it. County Attorney Bishop was asked if he had reviewed the document to which the reply was no. It was suggested this be an item for the next meeting's agenda to allow the attorney to review it.
Mr. Johnny Brock, EMA Director was next on the agenda. Mr. Brock advised the chairman that an invoice for one of the safe room buildings required his signature so the owner could recover $4,000.00 of their investment.
Mr. Brock also reported that he was working to form the "safety committee" that he had been tasked with. His suggestion was the committee consists of the county engineers department, the sheriff's department, county administrator and the government center chief security officer. Mr. Brock will continue on course to get this committee up and running.
County Engineer Winston Foshee reported the CDBG water grant for the Brooklyn to Covington was available and the commission needed to pass three resolutions in conjunction with it. Resolutions are to accept the grant, to assign an administrator and to assign an engineer for the grant. Passed by unanimous vote. Upon completion this system will be turned over to Owassa Brownville Water Authority at no cost to them. County's portion of cost is $70,000.00.
Ms. Judy Covan, County Administrator, asked that the position of clerk be advertised. She stated to wait for a job description rewrite would take too long and someone was needed now. Motion made and seconded to advertise passed by unanimous vote.
Ms. Covan advised the commission that she had looked into ways the return money from a bond issue could be used. It was originally for a joint venture with the city and she had been advised it could only be used on future joint issues.
County Attorney Anthony Bishop introduced a policy/procedure bid law resolution. Commissioner Millender advised the commission and Mr. Bishop the Code of Alabama already has this listed in their codes and there was no reason to issue what could become a confusing document or to duplicate paperwork. No action taken on Mr. Bishop's resolution.
Mr. Bishop advised the commission they must reschedule the Evergreen Wood Products Public Hearing as the county had missed the deadline to publish it in the paper. Rescheduled for 19 December, 5 PM, big courtroom upstairs.
Mr. Bishop also addressed the standing question of right-of-way obstructions and the ATRIP grants. Specifically he spoke of the brick wall extending into the right-of-way on the old Stage Road. Mr. Bishop suggested the county go forward with the repairs/repositioning of the brick wall at county expense. Motion made by Commissioner Cook and seconded by Commissioner Hildreth, motion carries.
Chairman's remarks: Mr. Andrews introduced Mr. Sonny Barlow of Castleberry. Mr. Barlow spoke on problems of hunters illegally dumping deer carcasses in local streams. He said it had been a real problem in his area on Eaton Road. People had actually been caught red handed by some residents but they could not get a law enforcement officer to respond. They stated they had called both the sheriff and game warden but received no help. The next day they checked with the health department. It seems no one really wants to accept responsibility to respond to these type calls. Mr. David Smith with the Alabama Wildgame Department stated that the penalties issued by the court systems basically make arresting and reporting this offense not feasible. Seems it's another of those Alabama laws that looks good in print but has no teeth in it.
It was announced the engineering department would have their Christmas party on 19 December at noon. The court house will be closed from 12 PM-1:30 PM Thursday for the commissions party.
No comments from the media.
Motion to adjourn

         Santa Comes to Evergreen Nursing Home
     Seems Santa Claus made an early appearance this year at the Evergreen Nursing Home. 
     He showed up with his elves Monday night at 6 PM to a packed house. 
     One of his elves, J. J. Jones ofSAGGITARIUS Entertainment brought sound equipment, set it up and soon the sounds of Christmas was heard throughout the building.
     Lyrics sheets were available for the residents and before long Santa had them engaged in a fabulous sing-along.
     Chief Elf Chester Fawley was on hand with his handy-dandy air machine strapped to his side as he blew up balloons for the folks.  He has an uncanny ability to take those balloons, twist and turn them and make them into whatever shape he wants.  He made several balloon swords, doggies, rats, a pelican and numerous balloon crowns which were worn with pride.
     Lee Dolihite and Tess Windham were there also and
handled passing out fruit gifts.
     Anyone wanting a picture made with Santa came up and sat beside him as Ms. Rose, Activity Director, made shots.
     A good time was had in every corner and for a closing song, Silent Night rang thru the rafters.
     I don't think anyone was disappointed in the early appearance as Santa gathered up his elves and left.

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