EDC update, transactions highlight commission meeting

Former Blount County District 4 commissioner and current Economic Development Council board member Waymon Pitts brings the commission up to date on accomplishments of the Economic Development Council, including the crucial search for a director to energize its endeavors.

Former Blount County District 4 commissioner and current Economic Development Council board member Waymon Pitts brings the commission up to date on accomplishments of the Economic Development Council, including the crucial search for a director to energize its endeavors.

At it’s May business meeting Monday, the Blount County Commission heard an update on Economic Development Council (EDC) actions and took action of its own to further support its efforts.

The commission authorized the chairman to execute agreements with the Blount County Health Care Authority (HCA)to transfer ownership of the Family Services Mall property to the Blount County Commission, and to execute a separate agreement with the authority for receipt of $50,000 for renovations at the facility.

The agreement transferring ownership will relieve the commission of a $22,000 monthly rent payment, and will shift responsibility for maintenance from the HCA to the Blount County Commission. As part of the agreement, the commission will honor all existing leases of agencies now residing in the Family Services Mall. The commission’s own lease from the HCA will terminate on May, 31, 2015, the effective date of transfer.

The transfer has significance for the EDC, as well. The Family Services Mall property includes about 2.5 acres of land lying between the building and Ala 75. According to the terms of the agreement, that parcel is to be deeded to the EDC, as a source of funds to sustain its operations.

Former Blount County Commissioner Waymon Pitts, now a member of the EDC board, delivered a 10-minute update on its progress to the commission. Here are the points he covered. Since its inception, the EDC has:

• Received funding to launch its operations, with county municipalities and county government all participating.

• Briefed municipalities on their and the EDC’s respective roles and responsibilities.

• Replaced Clyde Woods, who resigned due to health issues, as chairman and shuffled responsibilities to retain a full slate of officers, and replaced one board member who had too many other commitments to devote adequate time to the EDC; replacement appointment is John Pullen, director of the Blount County Career Tech Center.

• Completed (recently) the 38-screen EDC website, a concise encyclopedia of economic opportunity in Blount County; residents are invited to browse at BlountEDC.com.

Completed inventory of available county properties.

• Working with Birmingham Business Alliance to launch a quarterly newsletter to keep stakeholders abreast of developments.

• Working with the chambers of commerce to spotlight economic progress and opportunities, such as the recent launch of the Sun Charge Systems solar charging station.

• Working with Wallace State Community College to supplement workforce development efforts at the Career Tech Center.

• Now focusing on need to hire a qualified, experienced director of the EDC to organize and galvanize its recruiting and support mission; the search committee is now interviewing candidates, with a recommendation expected soon.

“Getting a director is the key to the whole process,” said EDC board member Alan Gilliland, who also attended the commission meeting.

Other significant actions

The commission:

• Adopted a resolution to participate in the back-toschool sales tax holiday by exempting qualifying items from the county sales and use tax during the period 12:01 a.m. Aug. 7 to midnight Aug. 9.

• Authorized the county administrator to hire a temporary/ full-time employee for a one-year probationary period to work as a grade 5 commission clerk and to understudy significant commission work functions in light of increasing workloads and as a means of continuity planning.

• Authorized bid requests for surveillance cameras providing live video monitored by the 911 Center, to be installed at covered bridges during the coming summer; expected cost in the $12,000 range.

In other actions, the commission:

At Paul Allred’s request, selected Dr. Stoney Beavers to replace Allred as chairman of the Department of Human Resources Board of Directors.

• Approved purchase of one tri-axle dump truck for District 1, not to exceed $145,847, from state approved bid cooperative; $94,000 proceeds of sale of two District 1 dump trucks will be applied toward purchase price.

• Declared surplus and approved sale of District 2 vibratory roller.

• Approved lease agreement drafted by county attorney and Dennis Burton for purchase of chert at Burton Chert Pit, and authorized chairman to sign.

• Approved applying standard charges for documents provided to outside agencies by the Blount County coroner; approved research rate of $50 per hour and $1.00 per page for documents prepared and provided by the coroner.

Budget amendments

• $6,500 to Capital Improvement Fund 116 from Mental Health Building to Frank Green Building to repair or replace air conditioning unit.

• $5,980 to Capital Improvement Fund 116 – Courthouse from unbudgeted revenue reserves to cover cost of additional security cameras installed around building.

• $408 to Fund 111 and $461 to Fund 117 for District 4 from County Line for road maintenance work.

Engineering report

• County Road 1 sinkhole repair complete; repaving should start soon and be complete by early July.

County roads 47 and 55 projects started this week; scheduled for shoulder work, guard rail installation and paving; should be complete by this fall.

• County roads 5 and 15 paving bids have been let; work should start by early July.

• County roads 26, 29, and 8 paving contracts scheduled to be let by end of July.

• Engineer authorized to submit bid requests for construction of Moss Bridge in District 4 as a public works project.

Executive session

County attorney requested the commission go into executive session to discuss pending litigation. After an hourlong session, the commission returned and adjourned without taking further action.

Quorum and future meetings

A quorum was present for the business meeting with the following in attendance: District 2 Commissioner Carthal Self, District 3 Commissioner Dean Calvert, District 4 Commissioner Gary Stricklin, and Commission Chairman Chris Green. District 1 Commissioner Allen Armstrong was absent.

The next commission work session will be June 4, 2015, at 9 a.m. The next commission business meeting will be June 8, 2015, at 9 a.m. Both will be in the commission boardroom at the courthouse in Oneonta.