Courthouse renovation ahead of schedule

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2005

LINDEN-Renovations to the Marengo County Courthouse are moving along in a timely manner, Commission Chairman Freddie Armstead said Tuesday. The project has actually moved ahead of schedule because of the fast restoration of the roof.

“Everything is going well,” Armstead said. “Everything is in order. We are about two weeks ahead of time because of how early we were able to get the top put on.”

The basement of the courthouse may take slightly longer than expected, Armstead said, but getting ahead of schedule on the early stages should leave them on target.

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Some offices have become displaced because of construction, but Armstead said the commission has benefited from community help. He thanked Cornerstone Church, in particular, for stepping forward and helping the county.

“We got the judges office set up at Cornerstone Church and they began court down there this morning,” Armstead said. “We want to thank Rev. Rob (Wynne) for being so nice to us. We appreciate everything he has done.”

In other business:

The commission set holiday dates for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years for county employees. Thanksgiving holidays, in addition to Thanksgiving Day, will include Friday, Nov. 25. Christmas holidays will include Friday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Dec. 26. The New Years holiday will include Monday Jan. 2.

The commission also approved a resolution that would add connections to their CDBG Jefferson Water Project that were not low or moderate income households. The original wording had originally stated only low and moderate-income houses would be included in the project, but the commission determined other households had a need for a safe, sanitary water system just the same.

Primary elections are on the horizon for June of 2006 prompting the commission to discuss meeting regulations for handicapped voting machines. There are strict guidelines and Commissioner Max Joiner felt they needed to make sure they are in accordance with election laws. To cut expenses, Joiner suggested the commission consider leasing these machines.

“As everyone is aware, it is mandated that we have handicapped machines in every voting booth,” Joiner said. “It is estimated that would cost somewhere around $5,000. I think we ought to look closely to a lease arrangement for this.”

Hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and Katrina have made Marengo County residents more aware of their local Emergency Management Agency. Stephanie Gibson, Marengo County’s Regional Coordinator for the Emergency Management Agency, was on hand to explain the connection between state and local offices. She said EMA’s first priority was a readiness to react.

“Training is a big issue with the EMA,” Gibson said. “We are continually training for comprehensive emergency management with state and local governments. We even have courses you can take online now.”

Marengo County, Gibson said, was very active in preparing for emergency situations and leaders realized the importance of a strong plan.

“It is always important to develop plans [in developing scenarios] and conducting exercises to test a communities emergency response plan,” Gibson said. “We had a really good exercise here, which was the Strategic Ration and Stockpile in April. It was one of the best exercises in the state as far as that division.”