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2017-03-15 / Front Page

Approves Travel Center project; county engineer Sitton resigns

by Ron Gholson

Some 20-odd Locust Fork women basketball players, coaches, and others crowd into the space behind the commission bench to be recognized for – wait for it – the school’s first

state championship of any kind. Coach Barbara Roy accepts a framed copy of the celebratory resolution from Commission Chairman Chris Green. How ‘bout it, guys?

In a unanimous vote, the Blount County Commission passed a resolution in its monthly business meeting ratifying the terms of a development agreement specifying the use of public funds in aiding a private corporation to construct a travel center near the I-65/Ala 160 junction in west Blount County. The center will include a gas/diesel station, a convenience store and a sit-down restaurant.

Basic terms of the agreement include a $345,000 ADECA grant to the town of Hayden to be used to construct infrastructure improvements (access connections linking the travel center to public roads), along with incentive payments amounting to a rebate of up to $1.5 million in sales tax revenues over a period of up to 15 years to High Tide Oil Company Inc., which is represented by developer Russell Jolly.

The travel center is expected to generate more than $200,000 in additional revenue annually for Blount County (more than $50,000 annually of which will go to education in the county) and more than $15,596 in additional annual revenue for Hayden.

In other business, near the end of the business meeting, Commission Chris Green announced that he has received Winston Sitton’s resignation from the job of county engineer. Sitton told the commission that he has accepted a job as county engineer for Lawrence County (Moulton), and would serve in his current capacity until April 10. Commissioners agreed in discussion to postpone the matter of advertising the vacant position until the April 10 business meeting.

The commission also voted to approve the financing agreement with BB&T, a North Carolina bank, for $10 million in county warrants for county road projects included in the Moving Blount County Forward road rehabilitation and improvement plan, referred to as “proposed step 2.” The $10 million is to be repaid by proceeds from the 1- cent sales tax referendum.

The commission passed a third resolution to renew the participation agreement with the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA) for the ACCA liability self-insurance fund for 2018-2020.

In its most pleasant resolution of the meeting, the commission commended the Locust Fork High School Lady Hornets players and coaches for their 35-1 season, culminating in a 72-62 victory over Pisgah recently to win the state championship. It is the first state championship of any kind in the history of the school.

In other matters, the commission approved:

• David Wallace, for a 6-year term on the Hulaco Water Authority board.

• purchase of a wheeled excavator for $87,500 for District 4 from the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance (IGA)

• reclassifying the commission office receptionist position from grade 2 ($9.30 per hour) to grade 3 ($10.40 per hour) to reflect increasing tasks and responsibilities assigned to the job.

• declaring surplus a 2015 Freightliner dump truck for District 2 (truck only has 12,000 miles, but is not powerful enough to tow additional equipment); District 2 and District 3 commissioners will confer as to whether truck would meet District 3’s need for a replacement dump truck.

• postponing until April District 2’s selection of 2017 paving projects.

A motion by District 1 Commissioner Allen Armstrong requesting an additional appropriation in the amount of $33,756 from Fund 100 for a guardrail and striping on White Oak Trail and additional road work in Smoke Rise failed from lack of a second. The problem apparently stemmed from the particular account specified. Armstrong and District 3 Commissioner Dean Calvert will confer to identify another account to tap for the needed funds.

Quorum and future meetings

All commissioners and the commission chairman were present at the Monday business meeting.

The next commission work session is set for Thursday, April 6. The next business meeting will be Monday, April 10. Both will be at 9 a.m. in the commission boardroom at the courthouse in Oneonta.

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