County Commission approves community organization appropriations, considers development

Published 4:04 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Lowndes County Commission met at the Charles Smith Annex Building on Feb. 15, approving funding requests from Suburban West Dixie Youth Baseball Softball League, Beulah Land Ministries, Inc., and the Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce and also hearing progress of initiatives in progress with the Chamber and the Lowndes County Commission of Economic Development.

Dr. Ozelle Hubert, President and Executive Director for the Chamber described the group’s First Annual Bloody Sunday Jubilee Celebration Fest on March 4, an event centered around the Third Annual Bloody Sunday Jubilee Motorcade and intended to commemorate the county’s role in the historic 1965 Voters Rights March from Selma to Montgomery.

“We’ve just begun to promote the Selma to Montgomery march by way of Lowndes County,” Hubert said. “That’s never been done before. We’ve got to go on record now establishing [the march took place] by way of Lowndes County. We had a tour group that came through last year and we gave a tour of the Hayneville area. Alabama received $50 billion each year in tourism. We have the opportunity to impact on people coming through the county buying gas or groceries to help our tax base here.”

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Commissioners voted to appropriate $2,000 to the Chamber to support the event. The commission also approved an appropriation of $1,000 to Ark of Love, $2,500 to support Beulah Land Ministries’ Mayfest event, an annual health and wellness expo for senior citizens, as well as $2,000 to help fund the Suburban West Dixie Youth Baseball Softball League services which teach sports ideals, develop healthy lifestyle habits, and combat delinquency among area youths.

Tucson Roberts with the Lowndes County Commission of Economic Development, updated commissioners on several development projects.

Project Ammo has ordered equipment and should be ready to begin manufacturing bullets around August, Roberts said. He also described a prospective development site near SABIC, in Burkeville along the Alabama River.

“Jim Byard and I went to Texas to talk to a prospect out there two weeks ago,” Roberts said. “The problem with that site is that the river is not dredged. There’s several places where you can’t get barges up or down. It’s not deep enough to use that site but it’s being done now and the people in Texas are aware of that. The development will give us a 700-acre site we have really never had before.”

Roberts described other development initiatives, including a 174,000 square foot building owned by Warren Oil and soon to be available for purchase or lease to a business which could bring needed jobs to the area. Expansion of a proposed solar project for the county is also under discussion, Roberts said.

In other business, the commission:

  • Heard progress for opening the Lowndes County Unincorporated Wastewater Program office;
  • Received a request by Sheriff Chris West for funding to repair and improve the Lowndes County jail intercom system, camera equipment, and locks and also to purchase five new patrol cars;
  • Voted to table consideration of West’s request to the next meeting;
  • Urged Roberts to develop solutions for affordable housing;
  • Discussed enforcing the commission’s October decisions to cut county department budgets by 5%;
  • Heard and discussed County Engineer David Butt’s progress report on road repairs;
  • Approved minutes for December and January meetings;
  • Voted to approved County levies for alcohol licensing;
  • Approved payment of January invoices;
  • Received recommendations from County Attorney Prince Chestnut for offering aid to Selma and Dallas County and requested further investigation into the matter;
  • Requested Chestnut continue researching the County’s contract with Martin Environmental; and
  • Approved County holidays.