The county commission’s regular session started off last week with a citizen petitioning the commission for assistance in a business matter. The gentleman sells cars from his home in Fort Mitchell and had his dealership license application rejected by the state for the first time in all the years he’d been doing business. The rejection was given on the basis that the man works from his home. Commission Chair Gentry Lee informed the man that the county didn’t have zoning, and he could operate his business from his home with impunity. He stated that the state was mistaken. Special Enforcement Officer Bill Friend stepped in to help the man resolve the issue with the state.
Three previous agendas (August 26, Sept. 9, and Sept. 23) were tabled once again because the commissioners said they had not received them with enough time for reading.
A posthumous proclamation is being planned to honor the recently passed Roy Greene, owner of BEAM and The Citizen of East Alabama newspaper, which he established in 1954. The proclamation, once completed, will be read at a future meeting.
Two items were added to the discussion portion of the agenda. Commissioner Chance Corbett introduced Rochelle Smith from BLOOM, “Blessed Ladies Open Overcoming Mentors,” a nonprofit ministry that empowers women. BLOOM will be collecting hats, scarves, gloves, and personal items to help those in need stay warm this winter. The organization will be in the courthouse front parking lot, located on Broad Street, on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. to collect donations and meet with community members. BLOOM is seeking a business or businesses where they can keep a donation box. If interested in helping, call 706-406-3020 or email email@example.com. You can also find BLOOM on Facebook.
The other item added, introduced by county administrator LeAnn Horne, was a request to start an employee sick bank where employees can donate time to assist other employees in need. County engineer and sanitation department manager Shawn Blakeney brought it to the commission’s attention that an employee who is a single father has a sick child in the hospital in Birmingham and is struggling because he has exhausted his sick time.
Other employees have been requesting to donate time, but they have not been allowed to do so due to a lack of policy. The commission approved putting temporary measures in place to assist the affected employee while they work on writing a sick bank policy. Horne also requested that the commission create a county benefits review committee to examine employee health insurance options.
Everything was going smoothly until the subject of the assistant county administrator came up. Traditionally, this is not a separate position, but duties which are appointed to an existing position.
Tina Johnson was nominated to be appointed with those duties and to receive the title Assistant County Administrator. She would be responsible for running the office in the administrator’s absence. Commissioner Cattie Epps was concerned about compensation for the position and that it was an appointment and not a hiring and voted against the motion. Commissioners Larry Screws and Ronnie Reed also voted no, so the motion failed.
“I will not bring this up again, but it’s the way we’ve done it in the past and it is not right,” Lee said. “We need somebody and the bookkeeper is the only one who works with the auditors besides the Administrator…It has to be an employee in the Commission office. It cannot be a new hire or somebody who works somewhere else. I think ya’ll have done a disservice to the citizens of Russell County.”
Haynes Ambulance Service from Montgomery, who bought out CARE Ambulance, won the ambulance bid for a two-year contract with the option of two one-year extensions. The service will stay the same as it was with CARE Ambulance. The other bid wanted payroll reimbursement, which would have cost the county in excess of $300,000.
The Pine Hollow landfill contract will be renewed in March for 10 years.