Commission approves solid waste plan for submission to ADEM, addresses issues

Published 8:36 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Commission discussed and took action on issues raised by Commissioner Robert Harris, Monday night.

  • The Lowndes County Commission approved a solid waste plan over the objection of Harris, that will be submitted to the state.
  • County Commission Chairman Carnell McAlpine told Harris that the Hayneville Plaza was sold for its fair market value. And County Attorney Hank Sanders said there was no contract with a timeline attached to the sale.
  • Sanders told Harris that there was no legal problem with a letter asking county garbage service customers to make their payments to Sea Coast Disposal Inc.
  • And at Harris’ request, the commission agreed that weather warning sirens will be sound tested in the county once per month.

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Sanders reminded the commission Monday night that a public hearing was held on the county’s solid waste plan, which needed to be approved and submitted the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). He said County Administrator Jackie Thomas has worked through the issue of certain towns not participating in the plan.

Harris questioned the difference between the plan done 10 years ago and the current plan. He said some parts of the new plan said the same thing as the plan from 10 years ago and that the new plan includes 2014 dates.

Thomas explained that was because the plan was actually for 2014 because the plan is submitted every 10 years, and the last plan was submitted in 2004. She also told Harris that according to ADEM, “You don’t redo the whole plan, you just make whatever changes that have to be made within that plan.”

Harris responded, “So, it took us two and a half years just to do that an $8,000…. I just want to know.”

McAlpine told Harris that the public hearing had already been held on the plan. He said, “We do realize that it’s late. Legally, it has not cause us any problem with ADEM. The plan is complete and ready to submit. I think we do need to move on with this plan.”

Sanders stated that he read both the old and new plan, that they are not identical and there are a range of changes. “I think it is in good shape to send in,” he said.

Harris asked for a copy of the past and current plan to sit down with Sanders and review and then decide if there were any changes. He said, “If we are going to do it. Let’s do it right Mr. Chairman.”

McAlpine called for a motion to approve the plan to send to ADEM, which was made by Commissioner Dickson Farrior and second by Commissioner Joseph Barganier and approved with Harris voting “no”, Joshua Simmons voting to “abstain” and McAlpine, Farrior and Barganier all voting “yes.”

Farrior added, “The plan is somewhat similar to the one was done the prior 10 years at that. It’s just a matter of formality…”

Harris also questioned the sales contact with Bell Ventures to sell the Hayneville Plaza. He said, “They were supposed to have done something with that building in a short period of time. That building is still sitting there. They were given a $75,000 discount to tear that building down. And it (the sale) was done a year and three months ago.”

Harris said the attorney put a call back agreement in the contract and it was in the deed.

McAlpine responded, “First of all there was no contract for selling the building. The motion was made to sell the building for $125,000.” He said there was no statutory deadline for the Bells to complete the ACE Hardware project.

McAlpine said there was a warranty deed, but a sales contract does not exist.

Harris insisted that he signed a sales contract and asked Sanders if he read that.

Sanders responded, “No. The deed did does not have the provision in it that you are talking about.”

McAlpine said it says “reasonable.”

McAlpine also disputed Harris’ statement that the appraised value of the building was $198,000 then reduced by $75,000 for demolition.”

McAlpine stated, “You are wrong Robert (Harris).”

Joe E. Bell Sr. commended the commission on its support for an ACE Hardware Store. He said, “It’s going to happen. It looks good. Things are lining up for us.”

He described difficulties with the town of Hayneville before they could go into the building. He said they (Bell Ventures) have been consistently working on the building.

Bell said, “We are going to tear the building down. But we want to tear the building down and build it back at the same time.” He said, “Before this year is out, you’re going to see one of the most beautiful hardware stores there.” And he said it was 99 percent that it would be an ACE Hardware.

He said, “ACE is excited about. And we’re excited about it. And it’s going to happen.”

In response to Harris, Bell said he knew that Bell Ventures didn’t sign a contract. He said the only thing received was the deed, which stated that if they (Bell Ventures) did not use the building for economic development purposes, they would offer it back to the county first.

While Harris insisted the appraised value was $198,000 less the demolition, McAlpine insisted that the market price of the building was $125,000.

Harris next raised issues with Sea Coast Disposal Inc. reportedly not picking up trash timely in his district. Thomas said that according to the county’s garbage collection enforcement officer, all of the districts were having some problems.

Sanders said when there are problems, the county is to notify the company in writing and give them a certain amount of time to correct the situation.

Harris called for consistency in dealing with contracts.

After discussion McAlpine asked Sanders to write a letter to Sea Coast Disposal Inc. that they are late with service.

Harris also questioned letters sent out by the county’s garbage service enforcement officer to customers of Sea Coast Disposal Inc. requesting them to make their garbage service payments.

Sanders said, “I did check into it. I reviewed everything that was necessary… the law and everything. And one of the letters… it was perfectly alright.” However, he said, he recommended not enclosing the contract.”

Sanders said that was not illegal, but he thought it would be easier to tell customers they could get the contract from the company.

Harris asked, “So, it’s okay for us to send out letters to the customers letting them know that they need to pay?” To which Sanders said, “Yes.”

Harris said, however, years back, Sanders told the commission it did not need to get involved in sending letters out because it was acting as a collection agency for a private company.”

Sanders, “We can’t collect from them.” He said the letters being sent weren’t collecting… “They were telling them they need to pay. And the letter in effect were saying if you don’t pay, we’re going to have to follow the procedures and we are going to have to hold a hearing before the enforcement officer. I thought those were completely legal… They have a duty to make sure that people get on or if they are about to get off they have a duty make sure that they don’t get off.”

Harris asked, “So, are we to do that for every business in Lowndes County?”

Sanders replied, “I don’t know of any other business you have a county contract with that has a mandatory service required.”

The commission voted unanimously for County Engineer David Butts to sell the trucks used by the county in June as has been the past practice through J. M. Wood Auctions.

Under the consent agenda, the commission unanimously approved:

  • An appropriation to the Fort Deposit Library in the amount of $1,000 through Commissioner Joseph Barganier.
  • An appropriation to the Lowndes County Community Health Advisory in the amount of $1,500 through all the commissioners.
  • An appropriation to Edgewood Tutorial Plus of $1,000 through Barganier.
  • An appropriation to the Lowndes County summer camp for youth in the amount of $2,500 through Commissioners Dickson Farrior and Carnell McAlpine.
  • Approval of resolution that the Lowndes County Commission renew its participation in the Alabama Self-Insurance Fund Inc. Liability Fund for calendar years 2018-20.