Commission approves County Rd. 60 bridge replacement; fails to make appointment to Greene County Water Board

The Greene County Commission met in regular session, Monday, May 9, 2022 with all commissioners present. Following the usual protocols including welcome to visitors, invocation, action on previous minutes and the agenda, the body accepted the financial reports presented without further discussion since these had been throughly reviewed at the commission’s work session, held Wednesday, May 4, 2022. The previous minutes and the current agenda were approved.
Under new business, the commission approved payment of claims for April, 2022, totaling $976,194.48. The electronic claims paid for April, including with holdings and retirements, totaled $82,236.83. The county’s bank balances for April are as follows: Citizen Trust Bank – $6,099,090.13; Merchant & Farmers – $5,229,339.67; Bond Sinking Funds – $724,492.25.
Following an executive session, the commission considered an appointment for the Greene County Water Authority, but failed to secure sufficient votes for any of the three candidates nominated, including Mr. Andrew Woods, who received two votes; Mr. Joe L. Powell, who received one vote and Mrs. Ester Austin, who also received one vote. Consideration of the appointment was then tabled.
On other agenda items, the commission took the following action:
* Awarded bid to Glasgow Construction for bridge replacement on County Road 60 over Little Creek in the amount of $596,363.18, authorizing the Chairman to sign all necessary documents.
*Appointed the Commission Chairperson to serve on the ACCA Legislative Committee.
* Approved the purchase of a full page ad in the Greene County Democrat’s annul Graduation Edition, honoring 2022 graduates from the Greene County School System.
* Approved travel for County Engineer and Assistant Engineer to attend conferences scheduled during month of June.

County Commission deals
with financial matters

Rev. James Carter
1961– 2022

Rev. James Carter, a former Greene County Commissioner
District 4 passed away on Sunday, April 10, 2022, after a
long illness.

Carter was honored earlier that same day with a benefit program
to raise funds to help his family with expenses. Members of the Eta Mu Sigma
Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Paramount Class of 1979, members of churches
he pastored and others supported the program.

Funeral services will be held Saturday at 1:00 PM at
Carver School gymnasium.

The Greene County Commission held a special meeting on March 31 and its regular monthly meeting on April 11, 2022 to mostly deal with and approve financial matters.

The special meeting was called to approve a refunding of the county’s bond issue for construction of the William McKinley Branch Courthouse and the Jail. There are 15 years left on the 2007 warrants, with a balance of $3,855,000 remaining, with an interest rate of 4.61%, after the February 2022 annual payment.

The bonds were refinanced by PiperSandler Investment Corporation, at 2.99% for remaining 14 years of the warrants from February 2023 to February 2037. The county will realize a net savings of $339,263 on the transaction (around $25,000 per year), which includes payment of issuance and placement fees and restoration of the bond warrants fund. Walter Lewis, a former University of Alabama quarterback, represented the company and secured placement of the bonds at a more favorable interest rate.

At the April 11 regular meeting, CFO Mac Underwood reported that the bond refinancing had been completed as of April 5, 2022, at the rates promised.

At the start of the April 11 meeting, the Commission observed a moment of silence to honor the late Rev. James Carter, who had served as a commissioner for District 4 in the past.

CFO Mac Underwood provided a financial report as of March 22, 2022, which showed $6,627,903 in various accounts in Citizens Trust Bank, $4,981,946 in Merchants and Farmers Bank and several certificates in Robertson Bank for a total of $11,971,738, plus an additional amount for the county’s bond fund in the Bank of New York. He also presented a report showing $640,650 in claims and payroll for March and $138,000 in electronic payments for taxes and retirement funds.

All agencies including the General Fund and Sheriff’s Department are in line with the budget and have spent around half of their budget funds by this mid-point in the fiscal year which began October 1st. Underwood recommend an increase of $14,500 in the Coroner’s budget due to high cost for transportation for people who died from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission approved the financial reports, payment of claims and the budget amendment.

The Commission heard a report from County Engineer, Willie Branch, and approved his recommendations, including:

• Awarding a bid of $197,715 to ST Bunn Construction for Project No. RA-GCP 01-02-2022 for spot leveling and patch county roads.

• Awarding a bid of $549,735 to ST Bunn Construction for Project No. RA-GCP – 01 -01-2022 for patching multiple sections of CR 117,120 and 154.
• Approving a Memorandum of Agreement with ALDOT regarding federal exchange funds.

• Approving a proposal from JM Wood Auction for sale of equipment at the June action and declaring that equipment as surplus.

The Commission also acted on a request from Phillis Belcher, Executive Director of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority (GCIDA), agreeing to serve as a co-applicant for EDA, Infrastructure Appropriations and Broadband grants for 2022-2023, including a proposal to repair transportation network roads in the Crossroads of America Industrial Park and Port.

The Commission tabled a request from the GCIDA for improvements to its office building on the Courthouse Square, across from Eutaw City Hall. The GCIDA and the Eutaw Chamber of Commerce jointly lease this building, for a nominal amount, from the County Commission. Commission Chair Turner requested a meeting with the GCIDA and Chamber of Commerce to consider sharing the cost of these expenses for the building.

At the Special Meeting on March 31, 2022, the Commission adopted a resolution to ask its attorney Mike Parnell to request an opinion from the State Attorney General on the use of county facilities, like the Courthouse and Eutaw Activity Center for “political meetings”. In the public comments section of the meeting, John Zippert, Democrat Co-Publisher, asked why an AG’s opinion was needed for a practice of using public buildings for political meetings, that Greene County had been implementing for fifty years.

Attorney Parnell said that he wanted to be sure it was legal to use county-owner facilities for political meetings. Zippert asked if the decision would be available before the May 24th Primary Election. Parnell said he hoped to have the decision before the November general election.

All Commissioners were present either in person or on the phone for both meetings,
except that Commissioner Corey Cockrell was absent for both meetings.

 

County to place guard rails on bridges; makes board appointments

The Greene County Commission held it regular meeting on March 8, 2021 at 3:30 pm in the William M. Branch Courthouse and approved several Engineering Department proposals. The commission approved a resolution for the 2021 HRRR Project which is an Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) Safety grant for guard rails on county road bridges. The commission also approved the engineer signing a utility relocation agreement for the power lines on County Road 69, near the bridge replacement project, for the approximate amount of $12,000. The commission will charge a $25 fee for flood plain permits. This applies to anyone who builds or locates in a flood plain in the county. The commission approved the annual tax levy on any alcohol beverage sold in the county. Bama Bingo’s ABC license application was approved and the ABC license for 432 South Lounge was ratified. The commission tabled the request from the Greene County Golf Course (Greens Committee) to be allowed get bids for timber cutting. Commissioner Allen Turner proposed getting legal research on the property first. Commissioner Lester Brown explained that the County is in charge of the Golf Course unless the property ceases to be utilized, then it returns to the original owner. Brown also stated that cutting timber has been a source of income for the Greens.“The county has not provided any financial support to the Golf Course for the last nine years,” he stated. During the public comment session, Mr. James E. Morrow, appealed to the commission to reconsider their decision, as he listed out various pressing needs of the Golf Course, including grading and cutting equipment, upkeep of the road and bridge across the lake and clubhouse repairs. “For the past nine years we have asked the county to place the Golf Course in its budget, but we have yet to receive a favorable response,” Morrow stated. The commission ratified several board appointments. In District 1, Martin Sellers was re-appointed to the Foster Ralph Water Authority; Cilla Morrow was re-appointed to the Library Board and Lucy Spann and John Zippert were re-appointed to the Hospital Board. At this point, Commissioner Allen Turner expressed a concern that Greene County was losing funds from the Greene County residents under the Foster Ralph Water Authority. Commissioner Brown explained that those residents get their water from Tuscaloosa so they pay their water bill to Tuscaloosa. Turner stated that he wants the commission to have more discussions on how to change that situation. In District 2, Sylvia Edgar was re-appointed to the Library Board and Katie Powell was re-appointed to the Greene County Housing Authority Board. In District 4, Eddie Austin was re-appointed to the Hospital Board and Vanessa Gray Bryant was appointed to the Library Board. In District 5, Rose Marie Edwards was re-appointed to the Hospital Board. Commissioner Corey Cockrell requested that all his board appointments be tabled at this time. Underwood reported the following bank balances as of February 21, 2021: Citizen Trust Bank – $4,012,268.44; Merchant & Farmers Bank -$3,337,636.62; Total Investments – $1,082,713.91. Claims paid included the following: Accounts payable – $128,434.89; Payroll Transfer – $299,184.92; Fiduciary – $206,113.54. Total claims paid – $633,733.36. Electronic claims paid totaled $72,974.19. The commission approved the following travel requests. * County Engineer to ACEA Conference, Perdido Beach, May10-14. * H.R. to ACAA Conference, Perdido Bech, May 10-14. * Property Clerk and Revenue Clerk to Birmingham, Introduction to Property Tax Administration, March 23-26. In his financial report, CFO Macaroy Underwood provided the commission with the total Bingo funds received this fiscal year as shown below: Sheriff’s Bingo Revenue to Greene County Fiscal Year to Date, Oct. 2020 thru Feb. 2021 Dream, Inc. – $152,850; TSP Support League -$187,394.10; Anchor – $152,850; Greenetrack – $120,000; Austin Foundation – $152,850; Interest income – $523.82. Total Bingo Revenue to County to date – $766,467.92.

County partners with BBCF for advanced funds to purchase COVID related items/services

The Greene County Commission met in its regular session, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 with all commissioners in attendance. The agenda presented was approved with an addendum, offered by Commissioner Corey Cockrell, proposing that Bingo funds received by the county be separated from the country’s general funds and only spent when authorized by the County Commission. The proposal was approved.
The County Commission also agreed that any additional items and/or services related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and approved by the state, would be purchased with advance funds available through the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF). Once the county receives its CARES reimbursement, BBCF would be refunded the advance funds provided. This arrangement with BBCF allows the county to make needed purchases without tying up local funds or making other budget adjustments. To date, the county has expended approximately $220,000 in COVID related expenditures. Greene County has been allotted a total of $500,000 in CARES money.
BBCF, which raised these earmarked funds to assist local communities, has a similar arrangement with other county and municipal governments in its service area.
The commission approved a staggered schedule for county employees through the end of this calendar year. The county offices will remain open, but will serve citizens by appointment only.
County offices will be closed for the holidays on December 24 and 25, 2020 as well as on January 1, 2021.
The commission approved a one-time payment to employees at the rate of $300 for part-time employees and $550 for full time employees.
Commission Chairperson, Roshanda Summerville, announced the following commission committee appointments: Commissioner Lester Brown is assigned Education; Commissioner Corey Cockrell is assigned Highway and Solid Waste; Commissioner Allen Turner is assigned Public Safety and Health; Commissioner Tennyson Smith is assigned Industrial Development and Summerville is assigned to Personnel and Finance.
In other business, the commission acted on the following:
Tabled consideration of draft suit related to Commission vs Greene County Sheriff.
Approved extension of exemption application to January 18, 2021.
Approved engineer hiring additional staff for paving.
Approved hiring personal property clerk.
Approved match for 2021 HRRR Grant (Bridges without guardrails).
Approved modification of the 2020 HRR grant to include just two sites.
Approved three year participation plan for liability coverage renewal (related to bridges).
Approved advertising for solid waste driver.
Approved Red Cross Agreement, relative to county providing use of facility during disaster recovery assistance.
The County CFO, Macaroy Underwood presented the following bank balances as of November 20, 2020. Citizen Trust Bank – $3,848,524.22; Merchant & Farmers Bank – $2,845,573.19; Investments – $1.076,756.46. Bank of New York – Report not available.
Underwood reported the following claims paid for November: General Fund – $$86,999.60; Gasoline – $51,911.28; Appraisal Fund – $$1,098.93; Solid Waste – $17,942.41;
Senior Citizen Fund – $1,108.84; Federal match – $436.34. Electronic claims paid totaled $75,827.09.

Commission adopts resolution citing sheriff’s failure to provide funds for specific departmental support

The Greene County Commission met in regular session on April 13, 2020, observing the emergency precautions directed by state and national government. The commissioners and staff were positioned approximately six feet apart and wore protective masks. The number of all in attendance was kept to the maximum of ten and visitors were also seated at required distances.
The commission adopted two resolutions: One resolution, dated April 13, 2020, regarded the notice of failure of the Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison to provide funds to the Greene County Commission as stated in an earlier resolution dated December 20, 2019 as amended. The commission is requesting that the sheriff make the sums set forth in Section 9 of the December 20, 2019 Resolution within five days of this notice, otherwise, the agreement is declared null and void, but all past due sums must be paid by the sheriff. The commission will adjust the sheriff’s budget accordingly.
Another resolution certified that all members of the Greene County Commission are in full support of the ad valorem tax resolution, dated April 13, 2020.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO of the Greene County Health System, gave an update related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Greene County. She reported that as of April 13, there were 17 confirmed cases in Greene County. The hospital has one employee confirmed positive and the Nursing Home has two patients confirmed positive and are isolated.
Dr. Pugh also announced that on Wednesday, April 15, the Greene County Health Department would conduct testing for the virus by appointment only. The site would be opened from 10:00 a.m. to 12: noon. She also noted that the CDC is now recommending that everyone should wear a cloth face covering when out in public places.
Greene County EMA Director, Iris Sermon, gave an update local conditions. She stated that flood damage is ongoing and EMA has submitted all necessary documents. She reported that the recent storm only had a few trees and power lines down. No homes were reported damaged.
Sermon noted that the state is requesting that the county identify a mass burial site just in case it is needed. According to Sermon, the county coroner has a plan in place to evenly distribute bodies through the three local funeral homes if needed. She clarified that of the 17 positive COVID-19 cases reported for Greene County, two were erroneously attributed to Greene County.
In other business the commission acted on the following:
Approved garbage pickup for delinquent clients until Coronavirus Pandemic ends.
Approved dirt pit agreement with Don Wood.
Approved supplementary agreement with Goodwin, Mill and Cawood regarding bridge on County Road 69.
Approved financial report and payment of claims as follows: General Fund – $325,652.63;
Gasoline Fund – $223,907.17; Appraisal Fund – $10,633.65; Solid Waste – $27,0656.45; Senior Citizen Fund – $5,850.43; Federal Match – $109.09; Payroll Fiduciary – $33,818.14. Total of $627.036.56. Electronic Claims totaled $89,413.36.
The county’s bank balances as of March 20, 2020 are as follows: Citizen Trust Bank – $4,019,087.87; Merchants and Farmers Bank – $1,996,484.66; Bank of New York – $619,071.95

Wedgeworth seeks Probate Judge seat

R.Wedgeworth.jpg

I am Rolonda Martin Wedgeworth and I’m announcing my candidacy for Greene County Probate Judge. I’m 43 years old and I was born and raised in Greene County. I am a single parent of three children: Tracy Jr., Devante, and Aikyra Wedgeworth. My parents are Linda and Wilbert Martin of Union, Alabama. I am the oldest of four siblings. I am a 1992 graduate of Eutaw High School.
I am running for this position based on my years of experience. I have given 16 years of dependable, dedicated, and professional service to the Greene County Probate Office. I was hired in 2001 as a Tag Clerk and I have had the opportunity over the years to move up in the office to License Clerk and currently I am the Chief Clerk. My position requires me to supervise and manage all day to day activities. I work extremely close with the Probate Judge on a daily basis and I am her assistant during all elections. For a period of time, I filed Probate Court cases and I have also set up an election.

I handle all checks and balances of accounts, recording of documents, and the reporting of all monies to the State Of Alabama, the Greene County Commission, etc. I also sell Tags, Driver’s Licenses, Conservation Licenses, Boat Licenses, Marriage Licenses, Privilege Licenses, etc. I do minor computer programming and set up so that the office can perform efficiently.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to work part-time in several other offices in the courthouse and I have even worked as a Corrections Officer at the old Greene County Jail.
My mission and overall goal for the Probate Office is to continue to offer and provide more services to our customers and to just improve the overall office experience for every citizen that comes in to do business. The thing that I have enjoyed the most about working in the office is interacting, laughing, and getting to know all the customers. I have gained so many extended family members working in the office. I love helping people and serving the public. I feel that I have gained the trust and respect of the citizens of this county based on my love for people and work ethic. As Probate Judge, I know that I would continue to provide the same dedicated and professional service to the citizens of this county.