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Leadership Marengo sees government at work

The Marengo County Commissioners helped the Marengo County History and Archives Museum take a step closer to becoming a reality.

Three of the five commissioners selected their appointees yesterday to serve as board members of the museum foundation’s board.

The foundation has obtained the Rosenbush Building on Walnut Street in Demopolis in hopes of transforming it into the museum. It will need some renovation before the first display is brought in, but having a location is key in the process.

District 3 Commissioner John Crawford named Mary Ann Gibbs to the board, while Calvin Martin pegged Sarelyn Coats to represent District 4 and Commissioner Jerry Loftin selected Betty Owensby for District 5. Freddie Armistead and Dr. Ken Tucker will name the District 1 and District 2 representatives at the December commissioners meeting.

The board selections were in response to a request by the museum foundation’s president and vice-president Mary Jones-Fitts and Kayte Melton to have representation from all parts of the county.

“We want people especially from the south end of the county,” Jones-Fitts told the commissioners in September. “We want this to be a county museum.”

Current plans for the museum include displays featuring Native Americans, especially the Choctaw tribe, the French settlers and the area’s Jewish and African-American heritage. Plans also include a hands-on children’s museum and an archive where people can look things up.

“Years ago, people had talked about wanting a museum in Demopolis,” said Kayte Melton. “Bert and Marie Rosenbush donated their building for that purpose.”

The museum will also house the Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame, which is also in its beginning stages.

Plans are to open the museum in 2010.

In other business, the commissioners brushed the dust off their Rules of Procedure to bring attention to a section on Decorum.

At the October commissioners meeting, outspoken citizen Deek Glass was escorted out of the meeting by chief deputy Tommy Reece after making some personal accusations towards the commission and addressing issues not placed on the agenda.

Glass has developed a sideshow of his own at each commissioners’ meeting, boisterously complaining of what seems like everything — from how long it takes a tar truck to warm up in the morning to why a district truck was parked for a few minutes at the cleaners. He often shows up with a pile of pictures he took of county employees during work or county vehicles.

The commissioners reminded Glass Wednesday through bringing attention to the Rules of Procedure that “no person shall, by speech or otherwise, delay or interrupt the proceedings of the peace of the Commission… Any person making irrelevant, impertinent, or slanderous remarks or who becomes boisterous while addressing the Commission shall not be considered orderly or decorous…. Any person failing to comply as cautioned shall be barred from making any additional comments during the meeting by the Chair…”

After staying in closed meeting for over two hours, the commissioners refused to bring to vote a motion by District 1 Commissioner Freddie Armistead to fund a part-time employee at the Community Action Agency. The employee is a teenager working under a two year agreement by the Alabama- Tombigbee Regional Commission. “The commission will pay for their salary for two years, but after that they have to look for employment somewhere else,” Armistead told the other commissioners. He asked the board to approve hiring the teenage worker as a county employee, but it dies for lack of a second.

The commissioners did agree to allow the sheriff’s department to pay off any deputy of corrections guard who has accumulated a large number vacation hours.

“With a shortage of deputies it can cause some problems, especially towards the end of the year, with deputies trying to take off for their vacations,” said Armistead. “Of course, most of the deputies would rather have the pay than take off for those vacations.”

The commissioners also agreed to accept bids for repairs to the roof at the Marengo County Correctional Facility. This is to fix problems in the roof over the facilities gym that is allowing it to leak.