County Commission creates Financial Review Board, cannot reach agreement on appointment of County Attorney

In a meeting which lasted more than two hours, the Greene County Commission took several steps to ensure continued financial stability but were unable to get a majority on who was to be county attorney.
They unanimously agreed on the creation of a Financial Review Board charged with conducting detailed reviews of cash receipts and cash disbursements, meeting with staff and external auditors to clear audit findings and reviewing revenues in detail each month. They also agreed to hire a Finance Manager by April 1, 2011.
Appointed to this board was Commissioners Allen Turner and Nick Underwood, Tiffany Grisby from Citizens Federal Bank and Ralph Banks from Merchants and Farmers Bank.
However, after several votes they could not come to an agreement on who was to be the County Attorney.
Commissioner Tennyson Smith nominated Prince Chestnut, the current attorney. This motion died for lack of a second.
Commissioner Marvin Childs nominated Katie Campbell. This motion also died for lack of a second.
Commissioner Elzora Fluker nominated Hank Sanders. Commissioner Allen Turner seconded the motion, but only four commissioners voted and they were hopelessly deadlocked with two for and two against.
Chairman Nick Underwood had recused himself from voting, saying he had “an ethical obligation.” The matter was tabled until the next meeting. Later it was learned that a call meeting will be held on February 22 at 6 p.m. to decide this important matter.
In other business, the Commission:
*Was told that the county had a cash and cash equivalency balance of $2,465,899.29
*Authorized the payment of claims in the amount of $270,099.37.
*Authorized advertising for a License Inspector for the Mandatory Garbage Collection. They decided on April 15, 2011 as the beginning date for the mandatory garbage collection.
*Accepted the resignation of Troy Summerville from the PARA Board.
*Made the following Board Appointments:
County Personnel Board – Willie M. Walton
County Water Authority – Levi Morrow, Jr.
County Industrial Board – Debbie Duncan and Warren Burke.
County Housing Authority – Katy Powell
County Park and Recreation Board – Melvin Robertson, Willis Smith, Wanda Carpenter Morrow and Regina Harris.
*Approved and authorized a resolution regulating the use of roadways in the county relating to timber harvesting. All timber production companies are required to get a permit from the Greene County Public Works Department before cutting any timber. The permit holder will be responsible for keeping and maintaining the roadway leaving them in similar conditions as they were prior to the onset of timber harvest operations not allowing any equipment to be parked on a county roadway or right of way, not disturbing any ditches adjacent to the county road and paying for damage to the roadways.
*Assigned Emergency Management Operations to Iris Sermon, director of 911.
*Reappointed Bonnie Miller for two years as agent to inspect violations of animal cruelty laws for Greene County.
*Denied the request of Coroner Ronald Smith to travel to a Coroner’s meeting in Perdido Beach Resort because the funding for the trip was not in his budget.
*Denied a similar travel request from the RSVP Coordinator to travel to an annual meeting in Perdido Beach Resort.
The commission adjourned but will meet again on February 22 at 6 p.m.

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County hires assistant engineer


L-R are County Commission Chair William “Nick” Underwood, Assistant Engineer C. B. Wellman and County Engineer Arzo Abrams.

At the recessed meeting of the Greene County Commission on Thursday, November 18, 2010, the commissioners selected C. B Wellman as its Assistant Engineer.
Wellman is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in Civil Engineering. He will be responsible for developing plans and designs for the expenditure of $2.8 million in road and bridge set-a-side funds available for use in Greene County.
County Engineer Arzo Abrams and Wellman must develop and submit these plans to the Alabama Department of Transportration by April, 2011. The commission must come up with the matching funds for the $2.8 million grant, a sum of $460,000. If they fail to draft the plans or raise the matching dollars, the funds will be recalled and transferred to another county.
According to Commission Chair William “Nick” Underwood, they will be looking at any and all reserve funds, funds that have been pledged and possible staff furloughs or even lay-offs as a means of raising the match capital. “We have placed priority on the construction, restoration and upkeep of our roads” said Undewood.
The first item on the agenda was a report from County Engineer Arzo Abrams concerning whether or not the county should asssit the city in tearing down the city swimming pool.
To do what the city needed done would cost the county a significant amount of money – about $13,000 – and there would be no reimbursement from the city.
Commissioner Tennyson Smith moved to table any decision until the next meeting. This was unanimously approved.
A discussion of whether or not to enter into a contract with Maude Whatley Health Service to furnish medical care of the prisoners in the Greene County Jail was also postponed until the next meeting.
In other business, the commission;
*Nominated Loretta Webb Wilson to serve on the Greene County Hospital Board as the representative from District 4.
*Approved an alcoholic beverage license for Williams Convenience Store in Mt. Hebron.
*Approved adding Commissioner Marvin Childs as a signatory on the bank accounts of the commission.
*Approved correcting erroneous balances on some of the county financial statements. This was requested by Commissioner William Underwood, who had asked for all fund balances. This will be a one time thing.
*Approved terminating payment to Don Woods as financial advisor to the county.
*Discussed retaining Lakisha Gaines as driver of a bus to transport senior citizens to a nutrition site for daily meals. In the past, Greenetrack provided the money for this service. With the removal of electronic bingo, they no longer have the funds for this and many other services to the people of Greene County.
*Agreed to continue action in legal claim CV-2009-15. It was explained that legal claims could not be discussed in open meetings by name, only by number

Greene Co. Commission selects Underwood as chair


Pictured are Commissioners Tennyson Smith, Allen Turner, Jr., Elzora Fluker, William Underwood and Marvin Childs

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

The newly elected Greene County Commission held their first meeting on Wednesday evening, November 10, 2010, at the William M. Branch County Courthouse. As the first order of business, the Commission chose Nick Underwood of District 1 to be the Chairperson of the Commission for a term of two years. Elzora Fluker was elected as Vice-Chair at the same time.
The Commission agreed that its regular meeting would continue to be on the second Monday of each month at 6:00 PM at the County Courthouse.
The Commission also agreed to use both local banks, Merchants and Farmers Bank and Citizen Trust Bank, as depositories for county funds and for the Chair, Vice-Chair and County Administrator, Mattie Atkins, to be the signatories on accounts. Commissioner Underwood said that some accounts may be shifted between the banks at a later date.
Commissioner Underwood said that each commissioner would be assigned to supervise a specific area of county business and activities to assure more accountability and supervision of the County’s assets, programs and responsibilities.
Commissioner Fluker was assigned to Health, Education and Public Safety issues because of her experience with the school board and her work with the Sheriff’s Department. She was charged with monitoring the construction of a new school, the hospital and nursing home, the jail, E-911, Courthouse security, DHR and other issues connected with these areas.
Commissioner Allen Turner Jr. was assigned to County Personnel issues and asked to work on a personnel manual, staffing needs, a staff evaluation and training process and the activation of a county personnel board, which has been dormant.
Commissioner Tennyson Smith was assigned to work on Jobs and Economic Development, including liaison with the county’s Industrial Board, grant writing for state and Federal resources and the issue of tax abatements and other incentives to attract and maintain industry in the county.
Commission Marvin Childs was assigned to deal with Public Works including roads, bridges and other infrastructure and helping to provide oversight and supervision for the County Engineer and helping to recruit an assistant county engineer which is currently a vacant position.
Commissioner Underwood assigned himself to work on Finance, especially helping to get regular and accurate financial statements to account for county revenues and expenses. Underwood said that he would put these assignments in writing and give the commissioner more details on their assignments.
In other business, the Commission heard a report from Ms. Atkins of funds on hand indicating a total of $988,313.70 in various accounts, many of which are restricted to specific purposes and cannot be used for general support of the county.
The Commission discussed a request from the City of Eutaw to assist with the demolition of the swimming pool on Greensboro Avenue (Highway 14) in Eutaw. County Engineering Arzo Abrams said the county wanted to be helpful to the City of Eutaw but needed more specifics of the requirements of work to be done and the cost estimate. The Commissioners agreed that the County Engineer should negotiate a specific agreement with the city and bring it back for approval.
County Engineer Abrams presented low bids for stone and slag for road repair provided by Southeast Materials Company which were approved by the Commission.
The Commission approved Ms. Joanna Madison as a member of the Board of Directors of the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home taking the place of Ms. Annie Gaines who wished to retire from the board at the end of her term.
The Commission tabled a request from interim Sheriff George Cook to make a $25,000 annual contract for medical services for prisoners at the county jail with Maude Whatley Health Services pending consultation with the incoming Sheriff Joe Benison. In the public comment period two members of the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home Board, who were present, urged the commissioners to check with the county’s health facility before contracting with another agency.
The Commission approved writing a letter of support for a $6,000 grant to the Town of Boligee for solar powered caution signs on the road in front of Paramount School. These funds are from the “Safe Routes to Schools Grant”. West Alabama Regional Planning Commission in Tuscaloosa is assisting the Town of Boligee in applying for these grant funds.
The Commission approved a request for an Alcohol Beverage License for Karl Burton doing business as Karl’s One Stop in the Snoddy Community in District 1.
The Commission decided to recess the meeting until a special called work session to be held on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 2:30 PM followed by a regular meeting at 6:00 PM that same night. The purpose of the meeting will be to deal with urgent problems facing the County and budgetary concerns for the coming year.

Newly elected commissioners sworn in


Commissioners being sworn in – District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne administers the oath of office to (L-R) Commissioners Tennyson D. Smith, Allen Turner and Elzora Fluker. Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway administers oath of office to Commissioners Nick Underwood and Marvin Childs.

The William M. Branch Courthouse was packed with supporters when Greene County Commissioners Tennyson Smith, Allan Turner, Jr., Elzora Fluker, William Underwood and Marvin Childs took their oath of office.
Pastor Thomas Gilmore, Greene County’s first Black sheriff and now pastor of First Baptist Church, Ensley, AL, brought greetings.
The evening began with the posting of the Colors by the Greene County Post 2007 of the American Legion.
Pastor Lynn Finch gave the invocation, followed by Pastor Keith Owens with the scripture and the District 4 Youth Choir singing America (My Country Tis of Thee.)
Pastor Thomas Gilmore gave the greetings, speaking of Greene County’s participation in the Civil Rights Movement and asked the audience to never forget the role Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. played in Greene County.
He quoted a portion of the speech that King made while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”
He also reminded those present of all they owe the men and women who came before them.
“You have the responsibility to remember the past,” he said. “While you are too lazy to register to vote,we had to fight for the right to vote.
“We had to go to court in 1969. We had to fight to get our names on the ballot.”
He spoke of the early political pioneers in the county such as Peter J. Kirksey and Judge William Branch.
Gilmore warned those present that today we were in a world where “we are being pushed back. It’s time to remember what another young man said only a few years ago – ‘Yes we can!’”
Following Gilmore’s speech District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne administered the oath of office to Commissioners Tennyson D. Smith, Allen Turner and Marvin Childs.
Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway followed, administering the oath to Commissioners William “Nick” Underwood and Marvin Childs.
After recognition of other elected and appointed officials, each commissioner spoke briefly, promising to do their best to serve the county.

County landfill will be closed

 

Commission presents awards for service to outgoing Commissioners William Johnson and Donald Means. Pictured L-R are Commissioners Tennyson Smith and William Underwood, Johnson, Means and Commissioner Marvin Childs.

Following a lengthy discussion, the Greene County Commission approved a motion to close the countylandfill.

The motion passed by the commission was that the landfill would be closed. Some arrangements will be made to dispose of waste from individuals who previously went to the landfill.

Commissioner William Johnson advised the commissioners that letters had been sent to all the companies using the landfill. However, no reply had been received.

The commission also established a fee which the City of Eutaw would pay for the county jail to house city prisoners. The fee will be $30 per day, with the commission getting 1/2 the money and the Sheriff’s Department receiving the other half.

This will apply to inmates jailed for misdemeanor offenses. Payment for those jailed for felonies will be the responsibility of the state. This payment schedule will last for a period of three years.

Action on acquiring computer software to keep track of sex offenders was tabled until input from the sheriff could be obtained. This software, accoding to to County Attorney Prince Chestnut, must be able to work with the software in other states to efficiently keep track of sex offenders. Payment for this was to have come from the state Attorney General.

Unfortunately, the county may have missed the deadline to be able to get this funding. Chestnut advised them that when one jurisdiction did not take advantage of the fund, other jurisdictions can. This would mean that the money would have to come from the sherff’s budget.

In other business, the commission:

*Approved the financial report submitted by County Administrator Mattie Atkins. This report showed the county had a cash or cash equivalency balance of $1,138,720.59.

*Approved claims in the amount of $308,120.45 for four payroll periods.

*Approved the appointment by Commissioner Donald Means of Charles Robinson to the Greene County Hospital Board. Conmissioner Marvin Childs protested this appointment, saying that this would be Means’ last meeting as a commissioner and the new commissioner should be allowed to make the appointment. Means refused to comply with his request.

There were two other appointments to be made. However, Commissioner William Johnson said his appointee had backed out at the last minute and he did not have a replacement.

Commissioner Tennyson Smith asked that this appointment and his appointment be tabled until the next meeting of the commission.

*Discussed the request by the City of Eutaw for the use of the county track-hoe and operator to help demolish the swimming pool on Highway 43. This was tabled until the city could provide the county with a letter stipulating when and how long the equipment and operator would be needed.

*Approved the bids recommended by the County Engineer for necessary material for the Highway Department.

Following the conclusion of the agenda, a presentation was made to the two out-going commissioner, Johnson and Means, both of whom had been in office for 12 years.

Johnson made a short speech in which he spoke of the progress made by the county during the past 12 years.

He spoke of the job facing the commission when he was first elected, and the county was in bankruptcy. He credited the advent of elecronic bingo helping the county Highway Department to acquire all new equipment. He also warned the incoming commission that the budget passed by this commission for 2010/2011 would have to be cut by 13% due to the closure of electronic bingo at Greenetrack.

Means told the commission that he had enjoyed serving the people of Greene County and felt that the commission had made an impact on the county for the better.

During public comment, Lester Brown told Johnson, “Despite all the ups and downs you were always out front and honest. I know that in your heart, you had the interests of the county at heart.”