The Greene County Commission tables Forkland’s request to purchase local park

The Greene County Commission met in regular session, Monday, August 12, 2019 and tabled a request from the Town of Forkland to purchase the Forkland Park. At its work session on the previous week, the commission discussed Forkland’s request to purchase 5.8 acres with the appraised value of $14, 500 ($2,500 per acre). According to Forkland Mayor Charlie McAlpine, the town has secured grant resources to purchase the property and begin revisions and upgrades to the park grounds.
At press time no further information was available as to why that agenda item was tabled.
The County Commission did approve a request from the Greene County Park & Recreation Board to lease 10 acres of county property on Choctaw Road for the sum of $1 per year, with the stipulation the agreement specifies description and location of the 10 acres.
The commission, at its work session on August 7, heard a presentation from Ralph (Rip) Banks, III on the proposed StreetScape Project. Banks’ overview noted that the $600,000 grant that is available the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for the project will require approximately $160,000 matching funds plus engineering costs. He stated that the Greene County Industrial Development Authority has committed $80,000; the City of Eutaw is asked to contribute another $80,000 and the County is asked to give &70,000.
According to Banks this is the second time such an opportunity has been afforded Eutaw and Greene County. At its August 12 meeting, the commission tabled the request to contribute to the Street Scape Project. No additional information was provided.
The commission acted on the following items:

  • Approved the contract with Delta Computer for the Probate Judge’s office.
  • Approved ratifying the chairman’s action in approving the contract with Knox Pest Control for removal of Bats in the courthouse.
  • Authorized engineer Willie Branch to solicit annual bids for materials.
  • Approved the Rebuild Alabama County Transportation Plan 2020 as presented by Engineer Branch.
  • Approved submission of ATRIP II application.
  • Approved purchase of a GradAll for the County Highway Department.
  • Approved budget amendments.
    The financial reports and the payment of claims report were not available at the meeting.

Eutaw City Council approves proposals for infrastructure improvements at the Interstate Exit 40 location of Love’s Travel Center

This is a report on the past two meetings of the Eutaw City Council on November 27 and December 11, 2018.
The City Council approved a proposal from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for $600,000 for enhanced lighting of on-and-off ramps at Exit 40 on Interstate 20 and 59, where the proposed Love’s Travel Center and truck stop will be located.
ALDOT will finance the improvement of the lighting with the expectation of getting repaid for half of the costs – $300,000 – beginning in 2023 when the project will be generating increased gas and sales tax revenues for the City of Eutaw and Greene County.
The City Council also approved bids for the extension of the sewage line along Highway 14 from the city limits to Love’s proposed location. The low bid of $728,731.50 for construction of the sewer line came from Cornerstone Civil Contractors of Northport, Alabama. The total cost of the sewer line project, including engineering and administration will be $897,406.50.
The City of Eutaw has $772.425 in grants for the project from ADECA and Delta Regional Authority, which leaves $124,981.50 to complete the project. The Greene County Industrial Development Authority has agreed to loan this amount to the City with repayment based on revenues from taxes over time.
Mayor Steele announced that based on his discussions with Love’s officials that construction of the Travel Center and truck stop will begin in January 2019 and be completed in nine months by the late Fall of 2019. Once Love’s is in operation it will generate $ 4 to 6 million in retail sales and 8 to 10 million gallons in gas and diesel sales per year.

In response to questions from Council members, Mayor Steele said he would contact Central Asphalt and tell them they must begin immediately on the repairs to the roads and streets in Branch Heights or the project will be rebid.
In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:
• approved the reappointment of Theresa Beeker to a four-year term on the Greene County Industrial Development Authority;
• adopted a holiday schedule providing December 24 and 25 as holidays and December 31 and January 1 as holidays, employees may take additional time off using annual leave based on arrangements with their supervisors;
• cancelled the second monthly Council meeting for December, which falls on Christmas Day;
• voted 3 to 2 to declare a shed at the National Guard Armory as surplus, so it can be leased to REACH, a non-profit organization for storage of its furniture project. Mayor Steele objected to this proposal saying the building was needed for storage of Christmas lights and other city equipment;
• agreed to a Christmas toy giving program to be held at the Robert H. Young Civic Center (formerly Carver Middle School), which the City of Eutaw is co-sponsoring, provided that the proper paperwork for use of the facilities is presented;
• voted down, by a tie vote of 3 to 3, a proposal by Councilmember LaJeffrey Carpenter to name local Attorney Joshua Sword as Municipal Judge.
At the end of the meeting, several Councilmembers reminded the Mayor of the need for a budget and audit report as well as a regular reporting of bills paid which had been left off the past three Council meeting agendas.

Eutaw City Council discusses abatement of taxes for truck stop

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Shown above Chief Derick Coleman with two new officers Khadijah Williams and Bryant Snyder.

The Eutaw City Council met twice in November for its regular meetings on November 14 and 28, 2017.
Mayor Steele explained that he has been meeting with representatives of Loves Truckstop about constructing a major truckstop at the Interstate 20 and 59 exit for Eutaw, at the 40 mile-marker. “At first we were talking about 87 spaces for trucks, then it went up to 168 and now we are talking about 200 parking spots for trucks and other privately owed vehicles.
The truck stop will sell gas and related products, have a convenience store and two fast food franchise locations in the store.

The truck stop will operate 24 hours a day and employ as many as 40 people,” said Mayor Steele.
The City Council will need to consider giving the truckstop owners an abatement of one cent of the gasoline taxes as an incentive to locate in the city. The abatement generally lasts for a period of time and goes up to a certain dollar amount whichever is reached first. Mayor Steele said that he was still negotiating the details of the tax incentive agreement and would bring it up for a vote when the full proposal was ready but he wanted to alert the City Council of this development. The City Council approved applying for a TAP grant to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for $800,000 with $180,000 in matching funds, which can be cash or in-kind services, to replace the sidewalks in the downtown area, put up decorative lighting, put up a railing along the edge of the sidewalk and plant trees and shrubs. The motion was approved. Councilwoman Sheila Smith voted against the proposal.
In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:
• re-named a street in honor of Ms. Johnnie E. Williams;
• approved making a proposal by the City of Eutaw to purchase Carver Middle School buildings for $215,000 from the Greene County Board of Education, to turn the facility into an afterschool park and recreation site for youth and adults;
• paid bills and claims for the months of October and November;
• holding one City Council meeting for the next month on Monday, December 18, 2017;
• approved two new police officers, Bryant Snyder and Khadijah Williams, who will be attending the police academy next month for training and certification.

Eutaw City Council learns that $110,000 remains on Prairie Avenue contract that may be available for other street repairs

At the regular Eutaw City Council meeting on June 13, 2017, Torris Babb, City Engineer for the Prairie Avenue resurfacing project, reported that $110,000 was left of the original $500,000 grant for the project. Babb also indicated that the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) was willing to allow this money to be utilized for other road projects in Eutaw that directly connect to a state highway.
While the roads in Branch Heights, which are in the greatest need of repair, cannot be included in this project, other roads at West End, M and M Subdivision and others that directly connect to a state highway can be considered. Babbs said even pothole repairs on tributary streets could be included. The Mayor and City Council took this report under consideration and will come up with a list of potential projects to negotiate with ALDOT. Babb emphasized that there was some urgency to begin discussions, make plans and contract the work before time expires on the grant.
The Council also considered the payment of bills for the month of May 2017. There was much discussion of the bills and the specific accounts from which they should be paid. Council members requested a meeting of the Finance Committee and a Council Working Session on June 20 to review the City’s bank accounts and the sources and uses of funds coming into the City for operations, capital improvements and other services. The City is not operating with a budget, which defines income sources and uses of funds. Councilwoman Sheila Smith voted against paying the bills. She said, “this is a protest to the way the city is operating.”
Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter said, “ I tried under the last administration and this one to get a budget, so we would know and could project expenses, and which accounts to use to pay our expenses, but no one wants to make a budget. I have given up raising this as an issue – but the problem remains.”
In other actions, the Council approved travel for the Chief of Police and Assistant Chief to attend statewide conferences on law enforcement. Travel reimbursement for Councilman Carpenter to the League of Municipalities meeting was also approved.
Mayor Raymond Steele reported on needed sewer repairs, including replacement of pumps. The Council approved these expenses to be taken from the Water-Sewer Fund not the Capital Improvement Fund. The Mayor also reported progress on the USDA Loan and Grant water project. Work will resume on the Water Tower after the July 4th Holiday and may take until the end of the year to complete.
The Mayor said he was meeting with the Chair of the County Commission on placement of a power pole, in front of the William M. Branch Courthouse, on a temporary basis during construction of the water tower. The pole has subsequently been placed in the street on the side of the Courthouse, according to the Mayor, at the recommendation of project engineers and Alabama Power Company.
The County Commission and many citizens are not pleased with the placement of the pole in the street and wish that the City and County governments could come together on a better location.

The Mayor also reported that city workers were following behind the water construction contractor fixing streets and curbs, installing new digital self-reporting water meters, clearing drains and doing other finishing and follow-up work. Council members said that the contractor should reimburse the city for this work.
The Mayor said the City’s knuckleboom truck to cut limbs of trees blocking the streets was being repaired and would be put to work as soon as possible to keep up with fast growing grass, weeds and other vegetation. “We have so many problems and requests for street and drainage services but very little money to do the work,” said the Mayor with some degree of frustration. Residents of various areas of the city raised more issues of needed maintenance work during the public comment sessions.
Ms. Deloris Powell of Lock 7 says she was grateful to get the water but that the contractor had left the construction areas and drainage pipes in a mess.
Councilman Joe Lee Powell thanked the “Tommy Summerville Police Support League, Inc.” for donation of a police car for the Eutaw Police Department. Councilwoman Sheila Smith is a leader of the Tommy Summerville Police Support League, which is the charity that holds the license for the Palace Bingo Hall.