The Bibb County Commission meeting held Monday, November 26, 2018, yielded a few items of interest. With Commissioners Caddell, Holdsambeck, Kelly, and Stabler present and Commissioner Burt absent, motions were passed regarding everything from a mundane insurance reimbursement, to an approval to consider allowing a film crew into the courthouse to shoot some scenes of a new movie. Unrelated to shooting a movie in town, the Commission also agreed to allow the change of ownership of a landmark movie theater, and to allow the receipt of some back-pay due to the commissioners.
A Movie Being Filmed Here
Representatives of the Alabama Film Office recently visited Centreville while location-scouting for a film shooting in the area. The movie’s producers apparently were seeking a courthouse to film scenes both exterior and interior for what is believed to be a western-genre feature film. It seems they liked the looks of the Bibb County Courthouse and are expected here in mid-December.
According to sources outside of the Commission meeting, the film is said to be about Bass Reeves, who was the first African-American Deputy U.S. Marshall west of the Mississippi River. He was born a slave in Paris, Texas, and went on to become a prolific lawman with over 3,000 arrests.
“It’s our understanding they are bonded and insured,” stated County Attorney Anthony Johnson. However, as details beyond this seemed foggy, the commission asked County Administrator Derek Reeves to follow up with the Film Office to verify their intentions and iron out specifics.
Also bringing new business was Suzanne McKinley of West Blocton, and a member of the Friends of Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge (FCRNWR). It seems that the group received a letter from Waste Pro regarding the implementation of a recycling program in communities neighboring our own. Since the county recently signed a new three-year contract with Waste Pro for residential garbage collection, the question presented to the Commission was if it was possible to have this service added prior to waiting for the contract renewal to come up in 2021.
Ms. McKinley hoped that the recycling service could be offered to the community for anyone who wants to participate. Amenable to the idea, commissioners asked McKinley to bring the information she was given about the program to the County Administrator so that he may investigate the possibility. The Bibb Voice will also be investigating this possibility, so watch for updates on this topic soon.
The Old Movie Theater in West Blocton
In more movie news, Barry Moseley of West Blocton, also with the FCRNWR, asked that the old movie theater in West Blocton be allowed to be given to the city. As it happens, the Friends of Cahaba own the theater building, and the County Commission must approve a transfer of assets of this sort. Mr. Moseley stated that the theater, while cherished in the community, stands so dilapidated and dangerous that it must be either repaired and restored, or torn down entirely.
Mr. Moseley added that the theater had been sold, but the new owner passed away and the theater remained in the name of the non-profit organization, which he said does not have the funds available to restore the building. It has come to their attention, however, that the Town of West Blocton has access to grant funding that would make the restoration possible if the building were city property.
The motion to donate the theater building to the Town passed unanimously.
A New County Vehicle
The Sheriff’s Department requested to replace their totaled 2011 Chevy Tahoe as the insurance payout on the vehicle has now been received. The motion passed to allow the department $7,500 to purchase a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria “Police Interceptor” model. The car comes already fully rigged with an estimated $6,000 of police equipment, has barely over 100,000 miles, and “runs good and doesn’t have any oil leaks,” according to Chief Deputy Kenneth Weems.
County Emergency Management Administration Update
Further items discussed included an update from the County E.M.A. Manager Kirk Smith regarding a Homeland Security grant for new panic buttons and security door in the courthouse. The grant having cleared, installation of these is now in progress with completion expected in early 2019.
Commissioners’ Back Pay
The most curious of motions that passed Monday night, however, was for the Commissioners to receive “back pay” due. Since no details were given during the meeting, the Bibb Voice requested an explanation from the County Administrator’s office.
According to an email sent on March 16, 2015, from the Legal Counsel for the Association of County Commissions of Alabama to the previous County Administrator, county governing bodies – the County Commissioners – should be receiving an expense allowance in the amount of $200 per month for each person. This pay is considered separate and in addition to their regular salary. This is defined in State Act 80-378, Section 45-4-70 Code of Alabama.
As explained in the email, when there was an “error” of not accepting the expense allowance on a regular basis, this could be taken as back pay, but not to exceed two years back, “if at all.” It seems there was much confusion across the state about how to implement these expense reimbursements because of the intricacies of the Omnibus Pay Act, which dictates how County Commissioners are to be paid.
The Commissioners only began accepting these regular expense allowances in April of 2015, said County Administrator Reeves, and have not until now approached the idea of accepting the two years of back pay relating to this State Act. Of the commissioners present, only Commissioner Holdsambeck voted no on the motion to receive the back pay.
These monies are paid out of the gas tax that is distributed by the State.