Love’s Truck Stop coming? County takes steps to bring jobs and tourism

Published 5:23 pm Friday, May 27, 2016

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Commission took steps to bring jobs and tourism to the county at its Monday, May 23 meeting.

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After much discussion, the commission voted to let Commission Chairman Carnell McAlpine negotiate a contract with the architectural and engineering firm of Goodwyn Mills and Cawood to handle the water and sewage project  to bring a Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store to Lowndes County.

And the commission voted to allow William Scott of Tristatz, the company that produces the commission newsletter, to act as a consultant to pursue tourism grants for the county at no cost to the county.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) announced by letter that it will support the Lowndes County Commission in a project to bring a Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store to the county.

That support, according to the letter from ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr., would come through a CDBG Economic Development Grant in the amount of $300,000 for water and sewage improvements.

In addition, according to the letter, ADECA proposes to provide another $150,000 in Delta Regional Authority (DRA) funds subject to an application and final approval by DRA.

According to the letter, read by County Commission Administrator Jackie Thomas, the Community Development Block Grant will be contingent on the availability of the funds, eligibility of the project and the company agreeing to employ at least 51 percent low and moderate income persons.

Byard said the project will create at least 30 new jobs.

McAlpine said prior to a vote on the matter that a decision would have to be made as to having one or two engineers  on the project.

Commissioner Robert Harris explained that since the project involves the town of Hayneville’s water and sewage system, the town wanted to be a part of it.

Harris suggested a meeting between the county and the town to resolve the issue.

County Attorney Hank Sanders clarified, the project is one Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood Inc. is already working on; it will be connected to Hayneville’s water and sewer; the town of Hayneville wants participation; and the grant will be in the county’s name.

Sanders said, “The county is in an appropriate place to hire the engineer, but two, it would make some sense to have some interaction with the city (Hayneville) since it’s their sewage and water system.”

On a motion by Commissioner Dickson Farrior, the commission voted unanimously to allow McAlpine to negotiate a contract with Goodwyn,Mills and Cawood Inc. to handle the water and sewage project for Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store project.

McAlpine explained that the new Love’s  Travel Stop and Country Store would be located on Interstate 65 across from the Flying J in Lowndes County.

He said it is a county project, and the county is responsible, and if Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood give the county a decent price, the county would let them deal with Hayneville’s engineer. But, he said, the project would be difficult to split because the same company can handle it.

In other matters:

County Engineer David Butts said the County Highway Department is doing roadbed stabilization for a paving project on Debeck Road.

In connection with getting a storm water permit for the project, the commission voted to allow Butts the authority to submit a report to ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) in place of McAlpine.

The commission voted to approve a resolution adopting the 2015 Lowndes County Hazard Mitigation Plan to reduce the loss of life, property damage and economic loss to the county from natural disasters such as tornadoes.

Included in the plan are items such as storm warning sirens.

While the plan cost the county $20,000, Thomas said the cost will be reimbursed to the county from the ADECA.

Butts reported on FEMA Federal Emergency Management Administration funded flooded road repair projects, including Mushatt Road, which will cost $89,412.20 and Mims, Lum and Till roads, which will cost $123,839.45.

The commission approved Butts to execute a $7,500 contact for an Emergency Management Agency (EMA) exercise in the county for an event such as an “active shooter” involving the sheriff’s office, volunteer firefighters and EMA.

Based on Butts’ report, the commission voted to allow JM Wood Auction Company Inc. of Montgomery to sell four dump trucks for the county for a guaranteed amount of $548,000 less 7 percent or $509,640.

Butt said that means the trucks, which were purchased for $135,000, will sell for a little more than $127,000 each. He said that meant that they were operated by the county for year for about $8,000 each.

The commission approved an appropriation to the Black Belt Hicks Hill Fire Department of $1,200, an appropriation to the town of Fort Deposit of $1,200 and an appropriation to Higher Vision of $2,000.

The commission also approved a resolution for employees who retire with more than 30 years of service to receive a $10,000 bonus upon retirement if their position does not have to be filled within a year.

Commissioner Brenson Crenshaw announced that every volunteer fire department in the county is required to send information on what they have done with the ad valorem tax funds they received last year.

He stressed, “No fire department will get any of those (ad valorem) funds until that paperwork is turned in.”