Commissioners showed up dressed up Monday afternoon to have new photos taken for the County’s new website and publicity materials that are currently in production. “They clean up well,” was overheard from several in attendance at the meeting.
After the monthly routine of paying for ambulance service was taken care of ($8,611 for February’s bill), commissioners invited Sheriff Wade to speak.
Courthouse Security and Accessibility
An issue of improved security at the Bibb County Courthouse was tabled last meeting so that commissioners could hear Sheriff Jody Wade’s thoughts on the matter before making a decision. The Sheriff addressed the Commission during Monday’s meeting, specifically regarding the idea of closing off the front door of the courthouse for security reasons, leaving only the two side doors to monitor and control.
Sheriff Wade said he believed a better approach would be to close off the two side doors to entry, leaving them only as emergency exits, and use the front door as a single entry for everyone. This would reduce the manpower and equipment needed for security. Being as the handicap access ramp is located at one of the side entries, however, means that a new ramp would have to be constructed on the front of the courthouse.
“I don’t think the county is subject to the city’s historical society.”
As the commissioners, Sheriff and others began discussing how a new ramp would look and what would be required of it, County Administrator Derek Reeves brought a new point: Do we have to consider the historical context of alterations to the building?
County Commissioners, including Keefe Burt, James Kelley and Sammy Holdsambeck seemed of the opinion that the local historic commission should be notified and consulted regarding any planned changes to the courthouse. After some discussion among the commissioners, County Attorney Anthony Johnson replied to the Administrator’s question, “In my opinion I don’t think that the county is subject to the city’s historical society. We dealt with that on the jail issue.” When asked directly after the meeting Mr. Johnson added, “The whole of courthouse square is considered a historic district already, but that’s under the city’s historical commission. The county isn’t subject to the city’s control.”
After also agreeing that any work done would hopefully go to local contractors, the Commission voted to temporarily close the front doors of the courthouse, as per the plan discussed last meeting by Kirk Smith, while a long term solution is sorted out. The County Administrator will look into the rules for historical changes and handicap access regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well.
Relating to courthouse security, as it has been an issue of importance to the judges who work there, Circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins brought the county a check for $10,000 from the Circuit Judge Fund to help pay for improvements in security. Work is currently underway on previous plans and improvements have been in process for several months.
Notice: New Bibb County Employee Safety & Wellness Program Up for Approval at Next Meeting
At their next meeting, the Commission will vote on an Employee Safety and Wellness Program (ESWP), which would not only directly benefit employees in obvious ways, but also help reduce insurance costs to both employees and the county. Per the information available at the Administrator’s office:
The mission of the ESWP is as follows:
To promote the safety and wellness of our employees through the recognition and reinforcement of actions which provide a safer workplace environment and/or a safer and healthier employee.
The scope of the ESWP is as follows:
To provide safety and wellness training materials to improve workplace conditions and employee morale. To allow for incentives in regards to employee safety and wellness.
The County Commission will cover the costs of any associated training materials, incentives and associated activities. However, the savings and benefits are expected to outweigh any costs incurred.
The federal government is hiring in Bibb County. With the year 2020 approaching, census takers are being recruited all over the country. Many positions – possibly several hundred – will be available in the area. Information available in the Rock Building states “Great pay, flexible hours, weekly pay, paid training.” You can apply online at 2020census.gov/jobs if you are interested.
Road Department Updates
County Engineer Jeff McKinney reports that since last meeting his team test drove a 2007 Mack “low-boy” truck that they would like to purchase. The tractor has 424,000 miles, but has “much better power” than their current 1987 Peterbilt, in addition to air conditioning. The price for the used Mack is $45,895. The Commission approved the purchase, which will be paid through a bank at a rate of $17,000 per year for three years. The well-used Peterbilt will soon be put out to pasture and disposed of as surplus through government auction.
Potholes and other issues along Greyhill Road, Bibbville Road, and other areas in the north end of the county are currently being addressed by a local contractor. Mercedes and others have reportedly received much flack for the smaller roads in the area being damaged by big-rigs, and the county is working to make repairs as quickly and affordably as possible. So far the work recently done has cost almost $12,000.
The County Road Department will soon be hiring two new positions, which should help speed along road repairs. Currently the department employs nine full-time and two part-time workers. Per Commission rules, the department is allowed up to thirteen total employees, according to Mr. McKinney.
Additionally causing delays in repairs is another equipment failure of the Grade-all machine. This highly used, versatile machine experienced a drive-train failure last week (perhaps you saw it temporarily stranded on Highway 82) as its front differential bearings went out. It has only recently been back in use after a previous repair, and the current issue will cost about $10,000 to fix. Compared to buying a new one for $425,000, however, this seems quite a bargain. The county’s current machine cost almost $170,000 when purchased used a few years ago. “I wish I had two of them,” McKinney said when elaborating on the importance of the machine to the road department.
The Commission authorized the use of Forestry Commission grant funds to purchase additional firefighting equipment throughout the county. Being associated with the Forestry Commission, Commissioner Holdsambeck abstained from voting.
The Commission also authorized the Coroner to begin charging the various municipalities in the county for body bags used, which cost $30 each.
County Attorney Johnson requested an executive session of the Commission (a closed meeting of required personnel only) to discuss future litigation concerning the lease of the waste transfer station.