At its regular monthly meeting on Monday, August 11, 2023, the Greene County Commission agreed to accept a plan for use of a $361,500 grant awarded by the Alabama Historical Commission for repairs to the interior of the historic old Courthouse, on the central square in Eutaw.
The grant was made to the Greene County Historical Society. The Courthouse building and square, apart from some of the buildings, has been leased to the Eutaw Area Chamber for maintenance and improvement. The Courthouse Square is part of the central business and administrative district for the City of Eutaw and Greene County.
The Chamber enlisted the support of the Greene County Historical Society to seek funding to restore the old Courthouse building, which housed offices on its first floor and a courtroom/community meeting room on the second floor. There are photographs in the new William M. Branch Courthouse of historic mass meetings held in the old courthouse when Black officials were elected to county offices in 1969 and 1970.
Lloyd Dawe, President of the Greene County Historical Society, said, “We met all three criteria for this grant, it was a government building built before 1840; it was involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s and it was listed on the National Register of Historic places.”
Dawe continued, “We asked for more funding than we received to fully renovate the inside of the old Courthouse. We plan to scrape, sand, and paint the interior, fix and reinforce the ceiling, plaster and stucco the walls, fix the windows and doors, redo the restrooms, and do other things necessary to make the building useable as a welcome center and community center for the county. We will need to raise more funds to complete the work and move from the first floor to rehabilitate the second floor as a community meeting room for the county.”Commissioner Garria Spencer pointed out that although the Commission has accepted the grant, they want to be informed in writing of all steps the Historical Society and Chamber of Commerce take in restoring the old Courthouse. “At our work session before the meeting, we made clear that we expect written reports to the Commission and our Legal Counsel as the work progresses,” said Spencer.
The Commission also granted the Greene County Historical Society permission to inspect the former Miles College Building for possible renovations and restoration work. Lloyd Dawe said, “The Miles College Building was established originally as the Mesopotamia Female Seminary in 1846 and was a post-secondary educational institution for white women, at a time when education and equal rights for women was not an accepted societal standard.”
The Commission owns the Miles College Building but has not used it since the college and other groups using the building moved in the early 2000’s.
The Commission approved a letter of support to ADECA for a grant to the Spectrum Southeast LLC for $7 million of state and federal funds to provide high speed broadband to rural communities in Greene County that currently lack service. Spectrum is the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that has expressed the greatest interest in bringing fiber optic cables for service to Greene County. ADECA is currently working on a plan to provide broadband services to underserved communities across the state, using federal and state funding.
In other actions, the Greene County Commission:
• Approved a $168,786 bid from Central Alabama Asphalt and Construction for road building and improvement projects in the county.
• Approved a revised quote of $63,500 from the original of $55,000 to repair the roof on the William M. Branch Courthouse building.
• Approved a travel request from the Assistant Engineer to attend floodplain training; and the Board of Registrars to attend an October 5th election conference in Tuscaloosa.
• Approved a $62,069, 2023-24 Worker’s Compensation Self-Insurance Fund contract with the State Association of County Commissioners.
•Tabled a proposed Greene County Wastewater Ordinance, pending more information.
• Approved a travel policy which included an option for the traveler to either fly or accept vehicle mileage rates for a trip, based on Federal government reimbursement rates.
Mac Underwood, CFO presented the County financial report for August 2023, showing $8, 123,248 on deposit in Citizens Trust Bank, of which $2,615,487 is unrestricted; $4,038,760 in Merchants and Farmers Bank, of which $2,903,842 is unrestricted. There is also a Bond Sinking Fund of $887,902. A total of $666,206 was spent for claims in August and another $129,845 in electronic payments were made. Most of the departments are on budget as of the end of the month, which is the 11th month of the fiscal year.