Commissioner resigns; jail plan nixed
HUNTSVILLE — Third District Commissioner Joel Newport has announced he will step down from his seat on the commission at month’s end, and Sheriff Anthony Lay’s plan to expand inmate capacity at the new jail has been rejected.
Those were two of the big stories to emerge from the regular monthly meeting of the Board of County Commissioners here Monday night.
Just prior to adjournment, Newport informed his fellow commissioners that due to a move out of the district he represents, he is required to give up his seat on the commission.
Newport said that after “68 or 69 years” he’s leaving the third district and moving into the second and that his resignation would be effective at the end of the month.
Obviously prepared, County Attorney John Beaty immediately informed the commission about the procedures to declare a vacancy and choose someone to serve out Newport’s unexpired term.
The first step, according to state statute, will be for the Scott County Clerk to formally notify the commissioners by letter of the vacancy, followed by the county mayor and county attorney placing a notice of the vacancy in a local newspaper, thereby giving those interested an opportunity to fill out an application for the position, Beaty explained.
The final step in the procedure will be for the commissioners to vote on a replacement.
On a motion by First District Commissioner Odeva Byrd and an all-aye vote, the commission authorized Mayor Keeton and Attorney Beaty to publish the notice and set the December commission as the time to fill the vacancy.
SHERIFF’S PLAN NIXED
While not an agenda item, earlier in the meeting the commissioners voted 9-4 to reject spending $18,000 for labor and materials for additional plumbing fixtures which would allow the new Scott County Jail to accommodate 18 additional beds — a plan put on the table some three months ago by Sheriff Lay.
The topic came up during a review of Building and Grounds Committee action when Sixth District Commissioner Ron Blevins said flatly that the matter should be brought to a vote.
He explained that a low bid of $18,588 to remodel the restroom facilities in two of the male pods in the jail was in hand “if we want to do this.”
Blevins then made a motion to award the bid, which launched a round-table discussion, which included an appeal from Sheriff Lay to “please do this project . . . not for me, but for the betterment of Scott County.”
Among the most outspoken opponents of the project were Fourth District Commissioner Alan Reed, who expressed fears that increased inmate population would require increased employees for the facility; and Fifth District Commissioner Paul Strunk, who stated that “$18,000 would be more productive to the youth of our community than those who have turned their backs on our community.”
In contrast to that statement, First District Commissioner Jeff Watson said he felt it would be “a wise financial decision in the long run” if the expansion of the jail came now (before it fills up) than when the county is forced to expand due to overcrowded conditions.
Just prior to the vote, Blevins said he felt that if the commission voted to “fix the problem” now it shouldn’t have to be faced with it a few years down the road.
Fifth District Commissioner Rothel “Tub” Cross, responded by saying that the commission could look at the situation a year from now.
Eventually, the discussion came to an abrupt end when Byrd called for a question on the motion.
The vote, when tallied, showed four for and nine against, with one commissioner, Willie Boyatt, being absent.
Casting no voters were Byrd, Cross, Newport, Reed, Strunk, Ernest Phillips, Mike Slaven, Gerry Garrett and Clyde Zachary. Voting aye were Blevins, Watson, Dennis Sexton and Leonard Bertram.
In other business Monday night, the commissioners:
• Formally recognized Scott County Ambulance Service Director Jim Reed for earning the “Administrator of the Year” award in the 16-county Region II, and Paramedic Cecil Strunk earning the “President’s Award” in Region II;
• Approved Jim Reed’s recommendation to elevate Emergency Medical Technician Marty Strand to full-time status with the ambulance service;
• Adopted the 2008 road acceptance standards for the county as approved by the Scott County Planning Commission and recommended by Road Supt. Dick Sexton;
• Approved an Interlocal Agreement between the Scott County Road Supt. and the Town of Winfield for road improvements in the town in exchange for full compensation to the road department for work performed;
• Voted to fill vacancies on the Senior Services Board of Directors with the appointments of Commissioner Dennis Sexton and Shirley West;
• Approved a contact with Detention Health Care Associates, Inc., to provide dental services (extractions only) for inmates at the Scott County Jail at a cost of $700 per month;
• Approved a permanent easement to the town of Huntsville for a greenway trail project, pending final review and approval by the county attorney;
• In separate motions, authorized the donation of $1500 to the Scott county Emergency Food Assistance Program to purchase turkeys for needy Scott County families for Thanksgiving, and $1500 to the Department of Children’s Services for the Foster Children’s Christmas fund;
• Approved a resolution for the adoption of the policies and procedures necessary to implement the $270,727 HOME Program grant to improving housing for low and very low income families;
• Voted to award a low bid of $12,000 to Newnan/Atlanta Group to construct a concrete pad at the exercise area for inmates at the Scott County Justice Center;
• Approved the issuance of the “Home Care Month” proclamation signed by Mayor Keeton earlier in the month;
• Heard a request for assistance from Clara Terry on behalf of the Salvation’s Army need for “bell ringers” at Oneida’s Wal-Mart from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. beginning the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Those interested in volunteering their time have been asked to contact Sharon Keeton at 663-2133;
• Heard an announcement by Mayor Keeton concerning the state’s decision to allow Department of Labor personnel to utilize space in the old vocational school building on Eli Lane in Oneida rent-free for two days a week upon the planned closing of the employment office in Oneida at year’s end; and,
• Discussed briefly a “price adjustment” notification from Comcast cable TV service to become effective in 2009;