New Commissioners take office

Published 7:28 pm Monday, November 19, 2012

The Lowndes County Commission held its swearing in ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 14 for three recently elected commissioners, second from left Carnell McAlpine, Brenson Crenshaw and incumbent W. Dickson Farrior. At far left is incumbent Joseph Barganier and, second from right, incumbent Robert Harris. At far right is District Court Judge Adrian D. Johnson who administered the oath.

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Commission saw three commissioners take the oath of office last Wednesday, and the group tackled a number of issues, including a grant to update E911’s mapping system and saving money on county road improvement.

Lowndes County District Court Judge Adrian D. Johnson administered the oath of office to incumbent W. Dickson Farrior and newcomers Carnell McAlpine and Brenson Crenshaw.

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Commissioners Robert Harris and Joseph Barganier have two years remaining in their current terms.

In the first actions taken by the new commission, Harris was unanimously elected as commission chairman and Farrior was unanimously elected as commission vice chairman.

The commission reappointed Hank Sanders as county attorney and Jackie Thomas as county administrator.

“I’m very optimistic with the new commission. I think our two new members are two really good people, and I think we’re really going to move the county forward with what we’ve got,” Farrior said.

“I’m looking forward to the change. I’m looking forward to good clean government, and economic development,” McAlpine said. He also spoke of putting county government back on track.

“Just looking forward to getting the county back on track with new ideas, just trying to bring us together as one and just working with everybody and each office in the county,” Crenshaw said.

“We need to come together as one, and that’s only way we are going to make this county progress,” he said.

Captain Chris West of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and Lowndes County E-911 Executive Director Santina Rogers received approval from the commission to apply for a $50,000 USDA grant to help fund a $111,014 project to update the county’s outdated mapping system for first responders.

“The system that we have is outdated. It was put in in 1999,” West said. He said the company that put the current system in is no longer in business and the county is unable to get updated software or expand the system.

He said the cap on the USDA Grant is $50,000, but the county could apply for a low interest USDA loan for the remainder.

Thomas said the E911 budget is supplemented by the general fund.

However, she said the money for the project would not come out of this year’s budget and could be included in the next budget.

County Engineer David Butts said the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP) projects for Lowndes County roads 54 and 37 have been let.

According to Butts, the Lowndes County Road 54 (Old Selma Highway) project is from Lowndes County Road 40 to the Montgomery City Limits in Harris’ district.

Butts previously reported that an Emergency Relief Project on Lowndes County Road 37 near Fort Deposit informally called “The Slide” will not require a 20 percent match of federal funds because with Sanders’ help, the state decided to take care of that match amount.

Butts also reported that the county is in the process of getting rights-of-way for an Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) project to improve Lakeberry, Fleeton and Debeck roads.

He also told the commission about a Rural Assistance Match Program (RAMP) that would not require a 20 percent match of funds, as is the case with the ATRIP program projects.

Butts said RAMP would give the county $1 million for matching funds and $4 million for projects. He also said if the county chose this program it would not affect the Lowndes County Road 54 ATRIP project.

However, Butts said, in the ATRIP program, the county gets $10 million for projects but must provide a 20 percent match. He said at this point the county has one of 10 submitted projects approved for ATRIP.

Harris pointed out that if the county chooses to go the RAMP route, the remaining road projects submitted for ATRIP would have to be re qualified for RAMP.

While Butts noted the differences between the ATRIP $10 million and RAMP $5 million totals, he said the issue of the 20 percent match required by ATRIP is key.

Under the consent agenda, the commission approved Harold Pate as Rabies Officer, payment of invoices, approval of Harris to sign off on commission bank accounts and an appropriation of $500 to the Department of Human Resources.

The commission also approved holidays including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Day.