Commission awards bid for courthouse renovation

The Blount County Commission at its business meeting Monday awarded the bid for renovation to the front entrance of the courthouse. The new design adds a ramp for the disabled to access the building through the front entrance and reconfigures the existing steps and sidewalks to accommodate space requirements for the ramp.

The bid was awarded to Richard Sprouse Construction Inc. of Pelham for $236,000. Two other bids were both in excess of $300,000.

Construction will begin on the project in the near future with completion expected by the fall. This project is the first stage of rearrangements planned to improve security and to provide access records and management for the building.

The commission designated April as “Clean up the Countryside Month” and authorized provision of free trash bags for civic groups, scouts, and others interested in carrying out the annual cleanup. Supplies of trash bags are available at no charge from the commission office in the courthouse.

The commission adopted a resolution on financial responsibility, which restricts spending or the creation of indebtedness exceeding the term of office on the part of commissioners who are approaching the end of their term. Spending would be limited to a prorated share of the budgeted expenditures for the portion of his or here remaining term (or the portion of a year that would pass until another commissioner can be elected or appointed.) Situations where restrictions would apply include (1) when a commissioner serves out his term without running for re-election, (2) when a commissioner loses a primary or general election, (3) when a commissioner resigns or is removed from office, or (4) when there exists a casual vacancy for a commission seat. Restrictions on travel expenses would also apply during the remainder of the commissioner’s current term, unless approved by the commission. In other business, the commission

• authorized the county administrator to solicit quotes for a time-keeping clock and data system for county employees.

• approved the North Alabama Mutual Assistance Association Agreement which facilitates sharing of manpower and resources among area counties during disaster events.

• declared April 30 as Jacksonville State University Day in Blount County; on that day, a celebration for students applying to attend Jacksonville State will be held at the Agri-Business Center at 11 a.m.; university officials including president John Beehler will be present and will match funds donated to the scholarship fund for Blount County students attending the university.

• approved for county employee convenience Main Street Family Urgent Care as a designated occupational health clinic, in addition to St. Vincent’s Occupational Health Clinics.

• approved a request from Oneonta Utilities Board for a 50’-by-50’ easement in Palisades Park to build a water tower and tank to serve the park and residents of the area, subject to approval by the Land and Water Conservation Fund which has provided park funding, and by the park board for design consistent with park esthetics.

• authorized the county administrator to request bids for a rubber-tired, front-end loader for county-wide use in loading triaxle dump trucks at locations throughout the county during the paving season.

• authorized the county administrator to establish a fund to accumulate FEMA-approved expenditures related to Dec. 25 flood damage and further authorized an advance to each district of up to 50 percent of approved project road costs for flood repair and restoration, excluding yet-unexpended costs associated with repair/replacement of four county bridges that remain closed; funds advanced are to be repaid when FEMA reimbursement is received.

• authorized reimbursement from Fund 140 to District 3 Fund 111 and to other organizations within the county that incurred mutual aid-related costs during the tornadoes of April 2014. Engineering items

The commission denied variance requests submitted by county engineer Winston Sitton on behalf of Utopia Subdivision in District 2. Variances were denied as setting undesirable precedents in deviating from subdivision rules and regulations.

The commission passed two resolutions to enter agreements required by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT). One was required to close out a transaction involving the Federal Highway Administration for federal funding used to rehabilitate the county’s covered bridges in previous years. The second agreement was required to cover partial federal funding for culvert replacement on Acton Bend Circle in District 1. Executive session

The commission met for an hour in executive session to discuss pending litigation. Upon its return, the commission adjourned with no further action. Quorum and future meetings

All commissioners and the commission chairman were present at the monthly business meeting. The next commission work session will be Thursday, May 5. The next commission business meeting will be Monday, May 9. Both meetings will begin at 9 a.m. in the commission boardroom at the courthouse in Oneonta.