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County Commission approves sending hospital tax to vote

The Marengo County Commission voted to hold a special election in December for a 4 mil ad valorem tax increase. Should the increase pass, the additional funds will benefit Whitfield Regional Hospital.

District Judge Vince Deas updated the commission on the status of the Black Belt Children’s Advocacy Center in Demopolis. He said progress has been going well with several upgrades made to the interior of the building including installing new LED lights and replacing the AC unit.

Deas asked the commission for $5,000 in order to train two forensic interviewers for the center. They will train at the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville.

While the commission initially gave $12,500 in August 2018, Deas suggested waiting another year before matching those funds again as the advocacy center still has sufficient funds left over.

“We’ve got a pretty good nest egg. In today’s world, it’s hard to say what you need and what you don’t need,” Deas said.

The center is scheduled to open in January and will serve Marengo, Sumter and Greene counties.

Sheriff Richard Bates also asked the commission to take on the responsibility for feeding inmates at the Marengo County Jail. Bates said that the state does reimburse $2.25 per prisoner per day, however sometimes it does not cover the entire cost and can take too long to be delivered.

County Administrator Meredith Hammond said she wanted to speak with auditors before a decision is made.

Other actions taken by the commission include:

• Aubrey Patterson of Red Oak Road asked the commission about getting his road qualified for a grant for additional repairs. Commission Chairman Michael Thompson said he help Patterson contact state officials who determine eligibility.

• approving a resolution for the county to host the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. Though the 17th Circuit is not currently participating in the 17th Judicial Drug Task Force, the resolution opens the task force up to $200,000 in state funding to cover costs such as overtime and vehicle repair and maintenance.

• nominating Commissioner Calvin Martin to serve another term as a member of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama Legislative Committee.

• nominating the current county representatives to serve another term each on the Board of Equalization, pending agreement by nominees. The nominations are for Katheryn Friday, Wayne Lewis and Joe Patterson.

• accepting the lowest bid for demolition, removal and disposal of two buildings and two underground tanks located on the corner of U.S. Highways 28 and 43 in Linden pending review by County Engineer Ken Atkins. The commission plans to turn the property into a parking lot for the Marengo County Courthouse. The following bids were presented: Fitzhugh Contracting for $65,000, Complete Demolition Services LLC for $81,000 and Environmental Incorporated for $59,860.

The Marengo County Commission meets every second Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. in the courthouse. The public is invited to attend.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, August 21 issue of the Demopolis Times.)