Commission tiptoes toward unit system; approves courthouse active shooter plan

The Blount County Commission voted unanimously to place District 2 under the direct supervision of the county engineering department beginning with the 2018/2019 fiscal year on Oct. 1. The engineering department, working with District 2 Commissioner Mike Painter, will assume responsibility for road maintenance and paving plans for the district next year and beyond. The engineering department will work closely with Painter for the rest of the current fiscal year to implement Painter’s remaining maintenance and paving plans for this year.

Painter himself made the motion, after sketching the “long history behind the terrible shape of roads in District 2.” He attributed their condition to the accumulation of mistakes, differences of emphasis, and lack of consistency in planning and practice among District 2 commissioners over a long period of time.

“This won‘t fix District 2 overnight, but it will assure that money budgeted for road maintenance in the district is spent as efficiently and effectively as possible,” he said. With more than 350 miles of road, District 2 is by far the largest of the four districts in the county in road miles.

Painter added that he’s convinced this is the best solution for District 2, and that other districts can convert to the same system as their commissioners become comfortable with doing so and convinced that the change is in the best interests of the county and their districts in the long run.

In other matters, and following executive session to discuss courthouse security, the commission voted to continue with implementation of phase 2 of the courthouse security plan, with an effective date of June 1. Phase 2 has to do with protecting the courthouse, courtrooms, county employees, and the general public in the event of an active shooter incident. Specific plans are held as confidential in order to maximize their effectiveness by giving a potential offender as little information as possible upon which to mount an attack.

The commission also passed a resolution proclaiming May 29, as “Stepping Up Day of Action” to raise public awareness and understanding of the prevalence of mental illness among jail inmates, both nationally and locally. In the Blount County Correctional facility, for example, at any given time, up to 60 percent of inmates require some level of psychotropic medication to reduce such conditions as depression, anxiety, psychoses, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related conditions. In other matters, the commission:

• approved a request by District 1 Commissioner Allen Armstrong for $25,000 for an extra mile of paving, having met the requirement for the supplement by completing his 2018 planned paving schedule.

• approved adding Williams Lane to the District 2 paving schedule approved in March.

• voted to appoint the following to the Blount County -Oneonta Chamber of Commerce Board: District 1 – John Reed; District 3 – Kelley Stone; District 4 – Hanah Denney; District 2 appointment was postponed until a later meeting.

• reappointed Steve Pass and Bob Sanford to fouryear terms on the Blount County 911 Board.

• adjusted the job description for Equipment Operator 3, making the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requirement optional at the commissioner’s discretion.

• approved the request for bids on the old U.S. 231 bridge/scenic overlook project, upon receipt of official confirming correspondence from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration.

• authorized the commission chairman to execute a construction engineering and inspection service contract in connection with the U. S. 231 bridge/scenic overlook project, subject to ALDOT approval.

• approved District 4 Commissioner Nick Washburn as representative to the Association of County Commissions (ACCA) legislative committee.

• authorized 21st Century Services to conduct an energy audit of all county buildings.

• passed a budget amendment for $1,500 for the Animal Adoption Agency to move funds from their special donations account to pay for concrete work to remedy drainage issues.

• passed a budget amendment for Palisades Park to move $798.56 for Christmas light donations to 001- 57200-269 incidentals, and $14,000 to Fire Tower Fund 154, according to the Park Board recommendation; also authorized expenditures from Fund 154 to complete signage and beautification project at base of the tower, subject to board approval, at a cost estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.

Quorum and future meetings

All four district commissioners were present at the business meeting, along with the commission chairman and a full complement of staff functions: county administrator, commission staff, county engineer, and county attorneys. The next commission work session will be Thursday, June 7, at 9 a.m. The next commission business meeting will be Monday, June 11, at 9 a.m. Both will be in the commission boardroom at the county courthouse in Oneonta.