Commission looks to add new workers

Published 8:48 am Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Crenshaw County Commission will soon be getting help from the Department of Human Resources to fill several jobs around the courthouse and in the county.

DHR’s Melissa Bush, Stephanie Fisher and director Kristi Maddox presented the idea to the Commission on Monday evening.

The Community Employment (CEMP) program provides participants with a way to learn job skills and gain experience and good work habits through work with a sponsoring organization.

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“We can have our clients come and work here at the courthouse, and work at answering the phone, in the Probate office or even do some janitorial work,” Bush said. “It’s kind of a two-way street — they gain employment skills so that through whatever volunteering they do, they can become independent of DHR.”

Workers don’t receive a salary, and work is done in exchange for public assistance.

There are also a number of restrictions, including the fact that a CEMP worker may not work over 40 hours per week or replace a current employee.

“Many of the people we get are eager to learn,” said Fisher, who oversees the program. “Some of them are just down on their luck and being in a good environment inspires them. It’s also something they can put down on a resume later.”

The Commission agreed that the proposal was a good one and identified several areas help could be used.

“We definitely need someone answering the phone at the courthouse full-time,” said chairman Ricky McElwain. “That’s causing us a real problem.”

County Engineer Benjie Sanders said that there may be positions available in the highway department.

Workers can be placed with a governmental sponsor for up to six months.

In other business, Sanders suggested that the commission consider contracting with Hodges, Harbin, Newberry and Tribble, Inc., a civil and environmental consulting firm, to test samples of groundwater near the landfill.

The cost would be around $6,000, but Sanders said the additional testing could be beneficial.

“They have seen things that ADEM [Alabama Department of Environmental Management] is looking for, and if they can come in with their expertise, it could save us hundreds of thousands over the next 10 years,” he said. “They might see something that others might have missed, and they’re another set of eyes experienced in the field.”

A number of illegal dump sites have been identified around the county by ADEM, but those sites have been classified on a remediation list, so it may be the beginning of next year before they can be cleaned up.

Special budget meetings will also be held one hour prior to the scheduled regular meetings on Aug. 8 (8 a.m.) and Aug. 22 (5 p.m.)

There will also be a redistricting informational meeting on Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. in the small auditorium on the first floor of the courthouse.