County contracts with firm to address HVAC failure at jail

The Blount County Commission at its June business meeting Monday moved to address a partial cooling system failure at the Blount County Correctional Facility. Due to a failure of one of the two chillers in the system, it is operating at only about one-half capacity approaching the summer peak-load season, according to jail administrator Capt. Mack Kent.

The commission voted unanimously to contract with Lathan and Associates Architectural and Engineering to evaluate the system’s capabilities and deficiencies, and recommend as soon as possible a technical solution consistent with the total energy needs and efficiency requirements of the building. The firm will then conduct the bidding process and oversee installation of equipment recommended.

The firm was specifically instructed to include a contingency plan in its project summary as to how an emergency condition will be handled (e.g. rental of emergency equipment) in the event the remaining chiller fails completely before the new system is installed and on line. The commission also approved a budget amendment to Fund 116, in the event that the remaining chiller should fail, requiring expenditure of funds on an emergency basis to keep the jail and sheriff’s offices habitable until the full replacement project is complete.

Total time to complete the project could be as long as 90 to 120 days. Delivery time for equipment ordered could be as long as 45 to 60 days, according to engineering estimates. Lathan and Associates’ fees are set by state regulations at 10 percent of the project cost, for that size and category building.

The problem was brought to the commission’s attention at last week’s work session. Preliminary estimates indicated the 20-year-old unit could be repaired at a cost estimated at about $86,000. Cost of replacement with a new unit was estimated at about $66,000. Public hearings set

The commission set public hearings on two separate grant applications to occur back to back at 10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. on Friday, June 21, in the commission boardroom at the courthouse. The first hearing concerns application for a Community Development Block Grant. Such grants are often used for county infrastructure improvements such as water systems. The second hearing has to do with application for disaster grants to repair as yet unresolved problems including road damage related to storms and inclement weather. Administrative motion fails in tie-breaker

District 2 Commissioner Carthal Self offered a motion for county commission- ers to assume direct budgetary control of other county departments in an effort to secure improved control of county expenditures. District 1 Commissioner Allen Armstrong seconded the motion.

When the question was called for a vote, Self and Armstrong voted in favor, with District 3 Commissioner Dean Calvert and District 4 Commissioner Gary Stricklin voting against. Calvert said during discussion that the commissioners already have the authority to assume responsibility for budget control over any county department where expenditures raise questions.

Commission Chairman Chris Green broke the tie by voting against the motion. Board appointments

•On the recommendation of the E-911 board, Tim Kent and Dean Gilbert were reappointed to four-year terms.

•On the recommendation of the Pine Bluff Water Authority, Ned Fortenberry was appointed to fill the term of Tessa Hughes, who resigned. The term expires in March 2017. In other actions, the commission:

•renewed the three-year revenue enhancement agreement between Blount County and Revenue Discovery Systems (RDS), the agency that collects sales and use taxes for the county; the new contract will carry the same fee terms as the existing one: $2.60 per transaction and $70 per hour audit fee.

•passed a resolution commending the Hayden Lady Wildcats softball team on winning the state 5A championship for 2013; all coaches and team members were named for special recognition; District 1 Commissioner Armstrong will present the resolution to the team.

•approved renewal of Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services’ lease at the Family Services Mall for $299.50 per month.

•approved District 2 bid of $36,000 on used pad foot roller and authorized commission chairman to arrange financing.

•approved catastrophic leave for two correctional facility employees.

•declared surplus and authorized sale of the following Palisades Park assets: a pressure washer, three riding mowers, an ATV, a dirt scoop, two propane ceiling heaters, and a 5-x-8 foot trailer. Engineering items

•The commission approved, on a 3-1 vote with Calvert dissenting, a variance request from Gerald Whitaker for Woodbrook Farms Subdivision, sector two. He requested the subdivision requirement of 30 MPH design speed be reduced to 25 MPH.

•The commission adopted a resolution appointing the Blount County engineer and the assistant engineer as county license inspectors charged with enforcement of the Blount County Logging Notice Ordinance, as required by the ordinance.

At the end of regular business, an executive session was requested by county attorney Jeff Sherrer to discuss pending legal matters. The commission took no further action, voting to adjourn immediately after the executive session.

All four county commissioners and the commission chairman were present at the monthly business meeting. The next commission work session will be on Wednesday, July 3, at 9 a.m. The next commission business meeting will be Monday, July 8, at 9 a.m. Both will be in the commission boardroom at the courthouse.