County questions pad built at hospital

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2004

During the Crenshaw County Commission meeting held Monday night, commissioners heard from the Crenshaw Community Hospital regarding renovations being performed to the facility.

Allen Gamble, administrator of the hospital, appeared with a member of the contracting company to report progress to the Commissioners.

"We are going to build a 94,000 square foot emergency department and clinic," Gamble said. "We are also going to build a brand new kitchen in the building, re-do the front of the building, and upgrade and re-do the obstetrics department. Also, 7,400 square feet will occupy a completely new generator room and equipment."

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The contractor told the Commissioners that rising steel prices have been a limiting factor in the renovation project.

"This is because much of what will be done will be steel, although we have done several things to get the cost factor back down again. We really appreciate the hospital board working with us - the building committee, chaired by Braxton Laird, is really working hard to make Crenshaw Community Hospital the ideal facility for the community," said the contractor.

"We have really gone through this process with the steps of the patient in mind," said Gamble. "This project has been completely financed by the local banks, in a joint-investment project, rather then the added costs of bond issues."

County Attorney Johnny Nichols added that the bond issues would cause a considerable amount of extra expense, both now and when paid off.

"Why is it that the hospital did not use the county's fill dirt," asked Commissioner Ed Beasley. "We already had more than 200,000 cubic yards of dirt not 300 feet from the site where you built that new pad, and had also offered the county's excavator, grader and two Mack dump trucks to move it.

"Then I drove through there one day, and I saw that there was a man building the pad with bought materials - a man from Troy," Beasley said. "That was $12,000 of taxpayer money that could have been saved, since the county already had it there, virtually at the site where you needed it."

Neither Gamble or the contractor could answer why.

"Someone else was handling that, so I don't have an answer for you," the contractor told Beasley and the other Commission members. "But I will find out for you."

Next a resident of the Lower Bozeman Road area appeared before the Commission requesting signs that for the neighborhood.

"Every resident of Lower Bozeman Road has signed a letter agreeing to pay for the cost of signs that read 'Children at Play' and we also would like to see the speed limit reduced to 25 miles per hour," said Tiffany Phillips. "We are afraid our children will be hit by speeding motorists on our dirt road. We have 13 young children on our road."

County Engineer Benji Sanders spoke regarding the speed limits.

"On county-maintained roads, the law requires a speed limit of 45 mph on paved roads, and 35 mph if they are dirt," said Sanders.

Sheriff Charles West told the Commission his department could work on curtailing speeders.

Next up on the agenda was Andy Compton, representing the Alabama Department of Pardon and Parole.

"Due to assignment changes within our department, and the addition of 150 officers, I have been assigned now to Crenshaw County," said Compton. "I am requesting office space in the courthouse for Pardons and Parole.

Commissioner Ronnie Hudson asked if the state reimbursed for office space.

Compton replied that he had inquired, and found that they did not, if they could get a publicly-owned office space.

"If the state has to rent space, they look for the cheapest they can obtain," Compton said.

Anita West, EMA director for Crenshaw County reported on progress through her office, and distributed copies of the Mitigation Plan approved by the Commission at the prior meeting.

She also reported that regarding upcoming security measures required by Homeland Security, there would probably be $3,000 left from the 2003 Homeland Security money, and she suggested it be spent on a card reader entry system for the rear doors of the courthouse, which could remain locked except for carded entry, around the clock.

Sheriff West requested hiring a Licensed Practical Nurse for the jail, at a pay rate of $12-$14 per hour, part time. He also advised the Commission that Deputy Brad Darby tendered his resignation, but no replacement had been located yet.

Finally, West said that the jail fencing is about halfway completed.

The sheriff presented a check for $7,000 to the Commission, from the prisoner work release program toward the operation of the jail, and asked that in turn the Commission pay half of the expense of the fence repair work.

During the regular session which began at 7:15 p.m., Commissioners Hudson and Beasley moved that if the residents of Lower Bozeman Road would purchase "Children at Play" signs, the county would install them at no cost to the residents. The motion passed.

The Commission also agreed to have the Sheriff work on the speeding problem.

Engineer Sanders reported receiving six bids for the purchase of four new Mack dump trucks.

"Our best bid was $84,890 per unit," Sanders said. "We did much better going through the statewide bid."

Beasley and Chairman Ronnie Blackmon moved to accept the highest bid of $91,889.01 from J.M. Wood Auction Company in Montgomery, for the four used Mack trucks declared surplus. The motion passed.

In other business, the Commission

€ accepted a financial agreement from Financial Leasing at 2.75 percent to pay for the purchase of the new dump trucks

€ adopted an upgraded county-maintained highway road map prepared by Sanders

€ authorized Sanders to purchase two Bushwacker T-180 mowers with aircraft tires off the state bid list at a cost of $6,535 each, which was a budgeted item

€ declared that at the time of delivery on the new mowers, the old mowers would be surplus, to be sold at J.M. Wood Auctions

Engineer Sanders announced that Assistant In Training (AIT) Cornelia Booth had turned in a letter of resignation for her position, effective Aug. 6, 2004, to accept the same position at Dale County Road Department. He asked for, and was given approval to begin immediately seeking to replace Booth, because if she was not soon replaced, it could put the department in a bind due to her experience on the computers regarding the upcoming highway projects.

Johnny Hollis, Solid Waste manager, reported to the Commission a contract agreement for their proposal.

The agreement calls for solid waste to be hauled to Coffee County at a cost of $18.55 per ton for three years.

"The only increase would be after three years, there would be a consumer index increase," Hollis said. "This is much better then most other counties are even getting, and is down from 2002, when it was $22 per ton."

The Commission approved the agreement.

After considerable discussion it was determined that right now the courthouse does not have a vacant office space available for the Pardons and Parole Office. This is because using state funds, Judge Tom Sport plans to renovate his office for better security, and Auburn University is not yet sure if their grant funding will come through in October to put an additional Extension agent in their office.

In other business, the Commission

€ approved a lounge liquor license for Little John's, located in Oakey Streak. This is simply an ownership change

€ approved the Strategic Plan proposed by EMA Director West

€ approved accepting of a check for $7,000 from work release funding toward the operation of the jail

€ approved the payment of $2,100 requested by Sheriff West to help pay for the fence at the jail

€ Approved having the County Engineer check on a drain problem on the visitor side of Brantley High School stadium.

The Commission then went into executive session to discuss contractural negotiations with Engineer Benji Sanders.

After returning from Executive Session, with no business to report, the Commission adjourned at 9:10 p.m.