• 72°

Commissioners dispute what’s needed; what’s nice

Proposed renovations to the Marengo County Courthouse proved to be a hot topic at Monday’s commission meeting. The Courthouse is set to undergo several changes to improve conditions inside as well as the outward appearance of the building.

Commissioner Ken Tucker said he felt some of the renovations could possibly wait. Tucker said based on estimated costs he would like to see the proposal reconsidered.

“The way this proposal stands now I don’t think I am going to be able to support it,” Tucker said. “As I have said many times before there are things that need to be done and I am very supportive of doing those things. To do more would be financially irresponsible.”

Tucker said he felt some changes could be made to the proposal to make it more financially sound for the citizens of Marengo County.

“My position is if we continue on this path there will be essentially no money left for other worthwhile ventures,” Tucker said. ” Rearranging the entire courthouse is not what we need to do. We would not in my opinion be using the money wisely and in the best interest of the county.”

One of Tucker’s main arguments was to concentrate on what has to be done and work on beautification if funding remains.

“I think we need to focus on the things that we need to do as opposed to the things it would be nice to do,” Tucker said.

“I think a fair approach would be to concentrate on electrical, mechanical systems and have some additional money left over for some positive things to make it look better.”

Commission Chairman Max Joiner stressed the renovation proposal was based on estimates and had been thoroughly examined.

“This is something we have looked at many times,” Joiner said. “We don’t feel as if we are acting irresponsibly. This has been given a lot of consideration.”

To further discuss the proposal, the commission plans to have a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 5 p.m.

Marengo County resident Perry Lucy also addressed the commission with concerns about road conditions in his area. Lucy said deterioration of unpaved roads and culvert replacement had caused difficult travel conditions.

“We have a problem with some of our dirt roads,” Lucy said. “Especially Quall Run Road, Deer Run Road. and County Road 6. We have culverts being put in with a road scraper, which you cannot do. We have a culvert that was taken out that was 18 feet long. Then they put a 10- foot culvert in. I am just here today to ask what can be done about these roads?”

Joiner said wet conditions have made this a widespread problem throughout the county. He said because of the high volume of problems with rain and dirt roads it has taken longer to get relief to everyone. Joiner said he always appreciates concerned citizens keeping the commission aware of problems and would see it was taken care of.

“We appreciate everyone that comes to these meetings and it will be noted,” Joiner said. “Mr. Calvin Martin and I talked about this yesterday and we were concerned about it and we are going to do everything in our power to alleviate the problem and fix this situation.”

Joiner said the wet months have been a nightmare for road repairs and wanted everyone to know they were concerned about their problems and planned to do all they could.

“It goes without saying that the last few months we have been rained upon, rained upon and rained upon,” Joiner said. ” It has made it difficult for us to get to every situation at the time that we needed to, but we are going to make every effort to work with you and make repairs to that road..”

Concerns voiced at the meeting were accompanied with positive news. For the Saltwell community, it was excellent news. A grant, worth roughly $300,000 has come through which will provide clean, fresh water.

The commission had worked closely to see this through and now their efforts have paid off.

Joiner said the water situation had been on the commissions mind for some time.

“It is always our concern that the service we work in cooperation on these projects with cities to furnish water for those areas,” Joiner said. “Anytime any of those entities show an interest we are going to be ready to work with them. Our hope is that everybody that wants access to water will have water. ”

Commissioner Freddie Armstead said the fresh water would be a huge boost to a community that has not had this comfort before.

“I think these people in the Saltwell area will really enjoy this,” Armstead said. “They have had salt water all their life. It was hard for them to take a decent bath unless they boiled the water. This is a great accomplishment for Marengo County.”

The commission also took the time to look at another great accomplishment for the community. However, this feat was taken on by local youth. The commission expressed their excitement for both Sweet Water and Demopolis High Schools on their state championships and unveiled plans to honor them at their next meeting.

“It was truly an outstanding accomplishment by both schools and I would like to see us pass a resolution recognizing them and congratulating them on that accomplishment,” Tucker said.

“In that resolution I would like to also include support groups like teachers, administration, cheerleaders, mascots and the band. All of these contributed. They are all a good group of kids and they represented the county well.”

Joiner said he also would like to see something done for these students and supporters and expressed great pride for his county.

“I’m extremely proud of these young people as well,” Joiner said. “It just shows you how proud young people can make you.”

The commission plans to honor both teams at their next regular meeting in January.

At the end of the meeting the commission also announced their holiday work schedule. Courthouse employees will be off Friday Dec. 24 and Monday Dec. 27. Road department workers will be off Thursday Dec. 23 and Monday Dec. 27.