Commission approves community corrections plan, transportation, M4A, computer support agreements

The Blount County Commission Monday approved the Blount County Community Corrections program plan for 2011, following its presentation in the business meeting by community corrections executive director Darryl Wheeler.

Wheeler said the agency plans to add two employees this year, and will introduce new programs aimed at reducing the number of offenders incarcerated in the county jail as well as in state prisons. The community corrections office will also move its headquarters to its new location in the Family Services Mall later in August, he said.

Describing the community corrections role as being “halfway between prison and probation,” Wheeler explained that the agency provides judges and the district attorney with sentencing options other than having offenders waiting in jail for trial.

The concept of community corrections is to keep violent offenders incarcerated in state prisons longer by placing nonviolent, low-level offenders in the community corrections program, thus diverting them from the state penitentiary.

The community corrections program involves supervised activities such as community service work, regular reporting, electronic monitoring, random drug screening, and attendance at various rehabilitative and/or training classes.

The two main sources of offenders for the community corrections program are diversion of prisoners from the state prison system, referred to as felony prison diversion, and direct placement by a local sentencing court – circuit, district, or municipal. Wheeler said the goal is to accept up to 30 new offenders per year into the program.

The operating budget for the 2011 fiscal year is $87,690, according to the plan Wheeler presented. The program is funded by the state Department of Corrections through its per diem payments for offenders admitted to the program and supervision fees paid directly by offenders themselves. Grant funds provide a third occasional source of funding. About half of the budget is made up of payments from the state Department of Corrections, and that proportion is gradually increasing, Wheeler said.

Transportation, senior centers, computer support

The commission approved two resolutions related to the Blount County Transportation System: one having to do with the annual grant of operating funds from the state Department of Transportation, and one regarding agreements with agencies contracting for transportation system services.

The commission authorized a grant application of approximately $211,000 for federal funding to be used to operate the Blount County Transportation System in fiscal year 2011. The resolution covering agencies contracting for county transportation services includes the following: RSVP (Retired Seniors Volunteer Program), ARC (Association of Retarded Citizens), Wallace State Community College, and the Blount County Program on Aging. The rates specified for the coming fiscal year are 61 cents per mile plus $19.95 per hour for services rendered.

The commission also authorized the chairman to sign agreements covering operation of senior centers in Snead, Blountsville, Nectar, and Oneonta, and operation of the Almeda Robertson Adult Day Care Center in Oneonta.

The senior center agreement sets guildelines for the partnership between the three agencies involved in providing the senior center program: the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (M4A), the Blount County Commission, and the municipalities themselves.

According to the agreement, state and federal funding of $10,476 annually is provided through M4A to each municipality to support the senior center. An additional $14,590 is provided by the commission to each municipality to fund the program. Each municipality is responsible for hiring a senior center manager to conduct the program, to handle the necessary paperwork, and to pay for the on-site and home-delivery food services provided by the state contractor, Valley Services Inc.

The Almeda Robertson Adult Day Care Center is co-located with the Oneonta Senior Center and is covered under a separate agreement between the Blount County Commission and the Department of Human Resources. The center provides daily meals and day-care-type services to about 20 senior citizens needing intensive daily care and assistance.

To cover increases in the cost of computer software support services, the commission authorized the chairman to sign addendums to the agreement with Delta Computer Systems. The addendums provide for increases of about 15 percent across the board – from $2330 monthly to $2670 monthly – for computers used in the county probate, commission, and revenue commission offfices.

Weight limits on hold

After meeting in executive session for 45 minutes, the commission reconvened to deal with the proposal to place a 10- ton weight limit on Mountain Gap, Center Springs/Wallstown, and Deans Ferry roads. The roads are seriously deteriorated because of heavy loads and/or high traffic volume.

When the panel returned, District 4 Commissioner Waymon Pitts offered a motion to table the item until further notice. Pitts later said that certain legal aspects regarding enforcement of the proposal required further study before proceeding.

In other actions – the commission:

•postponed a request from Kenneth and Margaret Bagwell of 747 Finis Murphree Road in Blountsville for a variance from subdivision regulations on road frontage and setback requirements for four existing mobile homes in District 2.

•approved a budget amendment for $368 received for the sale of scrap metal by District 2.

•approved a budget amendment for $4800 for funds received from the Tim James campaign to cover election expenses associated with the recount of votes in the gubernatorial primary.

•appointed Tim Frye Sr. to the 911 Board of Directors to fill the expiring term served by Lane Pettit.

•appointed Kevin Ellis to the Regional Planning Commission Revolving Loan Board of Directors.

•authorized the county administrator to transfer the vacant janitorial/maintenance position at the Animal Adoption Center to the maintenance department; the vote on the motion to transfer was three in favor with District 2 Commissioner Robert Bullard opposed; Bullard questioned the recommendation to transfer the job from the Animal Adoption Center to the maintenance department staff, appearing to favor not filling the position and letting the work be done by the remaining adoption center staff.

•approved family and catastrophic leave for an employee of the Blount County Correctional Facility.

Engineering matters

The commission approved the final plat containing the resurvey of tracts 1 and 2 of Briarfield Subdivision to create eight lots. The subdivision is located along Mountain Top Road and Briarfield Road in District 1; developer is Wil-Cla Inc.

The commission authorized the chairman to sign two agreements with municipalities to perform contract road work: (1) with Snead to replace a pipe on Baker Drive for $4699.46, and (2) with Allgood to repair and resurface Cedar Drive, Pine Hill Drive, and a portion of old highway 75 for an estimated $8200.

At the request of the developer, the commission approved the release of a $1500 bond to Donnie Hicks for Horizons Subdivision in District 4.

Report from work session

In Thursday’s commission work session, Barbara Andersen, representing the United Way, acquainted the commission with United Way activities in the county, She said the agency had picked up funding for the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) when that agency’s funding was discontinued due to federal budget cuts earlier this year.

CASA furnishes trained adults to act as advocates for foster and abused children who appear before juvenile court. Andersen said that Blount County enjoys a 750 percent return on its contribution “investment” with United Way in terms of the money returned to the county. Much of it is used to assist children, the elderly, and those with special needs, she said. She thanked the commission for its support.

Tommy Stinson, who lives on Commissary Road in District 1, spoke about the deplorable condition of the road. He said the road is so narrow in places that cars can’t pass, and that a poor job had been plowing the ditches. He said large boulders in some places protrude from the surface of the road, and that residents’ vehicles are sustaining damage. Several other residents of the road were also present at the meeting. District 1 Commissioner David Cochran said he would try to provide them with some relief with ditching and grading problems.

Joe Brothers, who lives on Kelsoe Road in District 3, reported that the crown on the road had broken down and that his driveway is being washed out as a result. He asked for assistance with drainage control to repair damage to the driveway, noting that the school bus uses his driveway as a turnaround. District 3 Commissioner Tom Ryan told him he would try to take care of the problem within the coming week or two.

Commissioners discussed at length attaching a second water line to the bridge over the Locust Fork on county road 13 near Plantation Golf Club. Putting the line in place will allow Pine Bluff Water Authority to buy water more cheaply from Blount County Water Authority than it can from current suppliers Birmingham Water Works and Oneonta Utilities.

However, concerns were expressed about the weight of the line and its effects on the bridge. One water line is already attached to the bridge, although it is not in current use. If both lines were used concurrently, the weight of the two lines relative to the load capacity of the bridge could become a serious problem, according to the discussion.

The recommendation was to allow the water companies to attach the line, subject to their submitting detailed engineering specifications and drawings showing how the line is to be attached and anchored, and following the existing safety manual for such installations. The specifications would then be submitted to the state Department of Transportation for approval. Approval would also be subject to the stipulation that the water companies would be required to pay the removal costs if the line ever has to be removed.