The ending of this month’s Blount County Commission meeting came as a shock to attendees when Commission Chairman and Probate Judge Chris Green announced his plans to retire from public service at the end of April. Green stepped into public service Jan. 8, 2001, and has served continuously for 20 years.
The first 10 of those years were served as Blount County administrator. He served the next three years as Blount County revenue commissioner, and he just entered his ninth year in his current position.
“Serving as probate judge and commission chair has been one of the prides of my life,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity very much. But Pam [his wife] and I have had a lot of challenges on our plate the last couple of years.”
The last challenge for the couple came in December as each battled COVID-19.
“We started talking about our age and our future,” he explained. “It was somewhat of a time that made us do some soul searching. You know, we just don’t live forever.”
Green’s 62nd birthday is April 21. His last day as an elected official will come nine days later. The early notification gives officials time to appoint his successor. The next step is for Green to notify the Administrative Office of the Courts of his impending retirement. That office in turn will forward the appropriate documents to the appointment office of Gov. Kay Ivey who will then begin the process of choosing Green’s successor.
“I sincerely believe this is the right decision for my family and me,” he said. “We’re at a juncture in Blount County as we are looking toward the future. New leadership will help move the county toward a bright future.”
Prior to Green’s announcement, the commission approved several routine items as well as reviewed paving and renovation projects. One agenda item of note clarified employee sick leave if due to issues with COVID-19. The special provisions for employee sick leave under the CARES Act ended Dec. 31. “We want to make clear to our employees what the policy is so there is no confusion,” said Hannah Denney, the county’s human resources director.
After consulting with county attorneys, Denney said the best way to move forward is to “allow employees to use any leave accrued if they have to miss any time due to the things listed in the CARES Act that just expired,” she continued. “This would be for things like the employee contracts the virus or they have to quarantine or a school shuts down and they have to take care of their child.
“If an employee has no leave left, they will not be penalized for taking the necessary time. Employees will maintain their job status and benefits.”
The commission approved the options. They also approved the cancellation of the Honeywell contract effective March 1. Honeywell has been contracted to maintain the heating and cooling system of the courthouse for many years, but Green explained that in recent years, the commission has been working to move much of the maintenance in-house. With a plan in place, the commission can now cut ties.
In a related item, the commission approved updating the courthouse chiller control panel at a cost of approximately $20,000. This will be paid from the money saved by canceling the Honeywell contract.
The Commission also approved the purchase of an additional four-wheel drive asphalt distributor and chip spreader from the ACCA joint bid at a total cost of $505,400 to be paid from the Fund 102 Severed Materials and General Fund 001.
In other business, the commission:
• approved minutes of the December meeting with the correction that Blount County EDC member terms to three years from Dec. 21, 2021.
• approved claims for December 2020.
• amended 2021 holiday schedule to add Good Friday and 2022 New Year’s holiday to be taken Dec. 31, 2021, since the New Year holiday falls on a weekend.
• amended meeting schedule to change quarterly 6 p.m. meeting to the work session and all business meetings will be held on the second Tuesday at 9 a.m.
• approved award of bid for EMA Video Wall Board, pending approval of legal council, to The McCrorie Group for $37,350, which will be 100 percent reimbursable through a Homeland Security grant.
• awarded sealed bid for D-4 asset 7328-1997 Ford Truck for $612.10 to David Brumbeloe.
• approved budget amendments: D-1 – sale of fixed asset $300, $955; Blount County 911 $740.26; D-2 – sale of fixed asset $5,000; sales of scrap $239.40; D-3 – Town of Highland Lake $116; $51,019.41.
• approved advertising Request for Proposal for consultant to perform grant administration services.
• discussed future use of a part of the agribusiness center property for a veteran’s park. Commissioners will continue discussions with representatives of the veterans groups and present plans in February. Announcements
• Next commission work session will be Thursday, Feb. 4, 9 a.m.
• Next commission business meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 9, 9 a.m.