Paving roads means replacing some mailboxes

Paving roads with federal funds – the source of Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP) funds – means meeting federal standards for highway safety, and that means bringing mailboxes and other roadside structures into compliance before county ATRIP roads are paved. That was the subject of considerable discussion Monday at the June meeting of the Blount County Commission.

Those standards require mailboxes as well as other potential safety hazards – masonry headwalls, columns, entry gateways, church signs or display structures, cemetery signs and other signage – be consistent with public safety. Mailboxes are significantly affected since standards require they be designed to break away easily if struck by a vehicle. That means mailbox stands must be made of metal thin-walled tubes 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter or wooden posts smaller than 4 inches by 4 inches. Thus, many mailboxes, such as those made of stacked rock, brick columns, or ornamental iron – as well as others that are made of timbers larger than 4 inches by 4 inches – telephone posts, crossties, or the like – do not meet federal standards and will need to be replaced.

Mailboxes installed on the road right-ofway are generally acceptable as long as they meet the break-away requirement. More hardened, permanent structures are not.

Before paving on ATRIP roads begins, the road will be surveyed and all mailboxes or other structures not in compliance will be identified. Owners will be notified by letter by the commission and given a date by which the structures must be removed or otherwise brought into compliance, along with information on what is required to meet standards. If owners fail to make necessary changes themselves, commission road crews will remove or replace mailboxes or other structures as necessary.

Commission discussion of standards emphasized the need to protect the safety and welfare of the driving public. The following county roads are scheduled to be paved using ATRIP funds: 27, 8, 29, 26, 5, 17, 15, 35, 47, and 55. Work on county road 27 has already begun. Other roads will be paved, roughly in the order shown, over the next two years. Letters to owners notifying them of compliance violations will be sent in advance of the time the last state compliance survey is conducted for their road. According to county engineer Winston Sitton, roads will not be paved until all compliance issues are resolved. District 1 solid waste bid awarded

The garbage collection bid for District 1 was awarded to the only bidder, BFI Waste Services LLC, a division of Republic Services; bid amount for basic residential pickup (Residential 1) is $13.40 per month, for basic business (Business 1) pickup is $19.97; charges for various larger containers range upward from $25 a month for a 95-gal. unit to $155.63 for an 8-cubic-yard unit. The current garbage pickup provider, Blount Waste Services, did not offer a bid, but will continue to provide services without interruption to its customers, according to owner Randy Shelton. Dust-up over tag fees

The commission approved the list of errors, insolvents, and litigations presented by Revenue Commissioner Gregg Armstrong. Armstrong said much of the revenue represented by those transactions will be routinely recovered with the passage of time. Armstrong mentioned in passing that he was precluded by law from collecting license tag renewal fees from citizens of other counties, mainly Jefferson, who might come to Blount County to avoid long lines at their home courthouse. District 2 Commissioner Carthal Self asked Armstrong pointedly why he couldn’t handle citizens from Jefferson County if citizens of Blount County with a Boaz postal address could buy their tags in Marshall County. Armstrong replied that he couldn’t answer for Marshall County’s actions, but that if they processed out-ofcounty tag fee payments, they were breaking the law. With apparent asperity, Self repeated his question about why the Blount County Revenue Office couldn’t do for Jefferson County citizens what the Marshall County office does for certain Blount County citizens. Armstrong replied he couldn’t do it because he would be breaking the law. In other actions, the commission approved:

•the alternate accrual schedule for holiday pay of those employees who are both (1) subject to call-out duty, and (2) whose normal work schedule is more than eight hours per day (e.g. 10 hours a day, four days a week for district road crew members); the alternate schedule allows a full day’s pay for each holiday and authorizes the human resources manager to update the employee handbook accordingly.

•a resolution to apply for a community development block grant of $350,000 to make water system improvements on Frost Road and Frost Drive in District 3 and on Huffstutler Road and a section of King Road, also in District 3; the 20 percent local match will be paid by Oneonta Utilities and the Town of Snead, respectively.

•a triad of resolutions supporting the Blount County Transportation System: one authorizing matching funds up to $183,998 in connection with the 2015 state transportation grant; one authorizing the commission chairman to request and file the 2015 transportation grant application, and one authorizing the commission to execute annual third party agreements which are part of the funding stream for the transportation system and are part of the transportation grant application.

•a resolution exempting the regional Community Action Association serving Blount County from paying local sales and use taxes.

•an agreement with the 911 organization to pay $80,814 for emergency, dispatch, and other services rendered by that organization to the county.

•awarding bid for extended cab truck for District 4 to Valley Ford with a bid of $25,399.

•changed hours of operation for Blount County Memorial Museum to Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; new schedule replaces four-day schedule with shorter hours and a closing time of 3 p.m., allowing greater access for school children to visit the museum during after-school hours.

•Dean Calvert’s resignation from the Agri-Business Center Board.

•appointment of Tim Murphree to the Agri-Business Center Board to serve the remainder of Calvert’s term, which expires in September.

•tabling for further study a proposal to add insurance coverage costing $1,300 to cover heavy-duty rental equipment.

•renewing Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) permit for Ingram Chert Pit for five years for a fee of $4,850, along with budget amendment to charge to engineering department budget. Quorum and future meetings

All commissioners and the commission chairman, county attorneys, engineer, and administrator were present at the Monday business meeting. The next commission work session is July 10, at 9 a.m. A session for budget discussion will be held immediately after the work session. The next commission business meeting is July 14, at 9 a.m. Both meetings will be in the commission boardroom at the courthouse in Oneonta.