Local fire departments awarded checks at Lowndes commission meeting

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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The Lowndes County Commission met on June 26 and awarded the Hicks Hill Black Belt Fire Department and the Collirene Fire Department with checks from the Alabama Forestry Commission in the amount of $17,245.00 each. In order to receive these checks, the fire departments had met certain criteria showing they have been a help to their community in that district.  

“I want to thank all of the firemen for putting their lives on the line to protect our community,” said Commissioner Chairman Charlie King, Jr. 

Carmelita Arnold, president of the Lowndes County Unincorporated Wastewater Program (LCUWP), shared the results of a community survey that identified Lowndes County residents who are still in need of septic systems. According to Arnold, the residents were supposed to be aided by the Black Belt Unincorporated Water Program (BBUWP) but the survey revealed “low-income communities in the areas surveyed have not benefited from the septic program offered by BBUWP.” 

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Deborah Stewart, the project manager for LCUWP, asked the board to vote on renewing her contract so she can address the issues that were found with the septic surveys. At the end of the meeting the commissioners did vote to renew her contract. 

Arlene Richardson, attorney for the town of Fort Deposit came before the commissioners to make them aware of a tax dispute with Sejong Alabama, a supplier of Hyundai automotive exhaust systems, and Chowel Weldparts, impact beam manufacturer for Hyundai vehicles. Richardson said a state computer system error caused Sejong and Chowel to receive tax cuts for the last 10 years. If these taxes are not paid by September 31, Fort Deposit will go into tax default. 

The commissioners moved to send a letter to the local tax collector requesting they send official tax notices to these two companies and have a tax auditor look into the situation further. 

Annette Patterson, a concerned citizen who recently moved back to Lowndes County from New Jersey, appeared before the commissioners asking them to fix potholes and cut the overhanging trees that line Ash Creek Road close to where she lives. Patterson said she is concerned that road conditions are dangerous. Chairman King offered to send a worker to the area the next day to see if there is anything to be done. 

In other business, the commission discussed searching for a bank loan of around $231,000.00 to buy a new commercial truck.

The County Attorney Prince Chestnutt reported his findings related to a prospective solar project. The project consists of three different Swedish based companies that want to purchase land and develop solar generation facilities within the county. The two $140 million projects and one $50 million project coordinators request tax abatements from the county for the next 20 years. 

The Lowndes County cost benefit analysis considers how many jobs will actually be created long term, if the school systems will be positively affected, and what is the county giving up for these alleged jobs. 

“It’s not worth it,” says District One Commissioner Robert Harris. “They are using education as a highlight and a selling point to get what they want. The Lowndes Board of Education is doing fine, we need money for our residents. I’m against the project.”

The commission will hold its next meeting on July 10 at 10 a.m.