County Commission addresses concerns, hears proposals

Published 7:50 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Several hot-ticket items were on the agenda during the Lowndes County Commission’s Aug. 14 meeting. 

First on the docket was a proposal from Lowndes County Sheriff Chris West, who introduced a plan for a two-phase emergency medical training for his deputies. 

West said that the need to provide this training to the deputies stems from prolonged wait times for ambulance arrival in the area. 

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“I cannot tell you the count on how many times myself or my staff have been on a scene for 45 minutes to an hour before any emergency services arrive,” West said. “We need to be able to stabilize people while we wait for them to get there.”

The first phase of training would provide Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training and certification to some deputies in order to stabilize individuals while waiting for Emergency Medical Services to respond to the scene of a crisis. The second phase would involve a partnership with Cardiac Solutions, a Birmingham based company who would provide deputies with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) as well as training on how to use them. After being trained on the use of AEDs, deputies would be certified as paramedics.  

West introduced Jon Seale, founder of Cardiac Solutions, who gave a presentation on his company and the products, training, and device maintenance they offer. 

Seale emphazised the impact that implementing the use AED’s would have on the Lowndes County community, offering his support of West’s plan and pledging to partner with the Lowndes County Commission to help cover the costs of EMT and paramedic training for deputies should the commission approve the plan.

“My goal is to make Lowndes County the safest county in the State of Alabama,” Seale said. “We hear the lack of response time, ambulances, paramedics and EMTs. I’d like to propose that Cardiac Solutions works with the county as well as creating a grant so that we can get some of your employees trained. I don’t know the full cost of that training, but I would like to raise my hand to help absorb some of that cost.”

Another topic of discussion during the meeting was delinquent tax revenue from tax abatements that were incorrectly enforced in Fort Deposit. Attorney Arlene Richardson expressed frustration with the progress, or lack thereof, on the topic. 

“I have tried to contact the state and I have left many voicemails with no returned calls,” Richardson said. “Roslyn Smith [Lowndes County Tax Collector] has told me that she doesn’t want to talk to me. I understand that there is nothing that the commission can do other than inquire just as I have been doing. It’s just sad that I may end up having to file a lawsuit if we’re not able to get to the bottom of this.”

Later in the meeting, a concern was raised by Hayneville citizen Terry Grant, who stated that he and other community members have been dealing with delays in their garbage pickup for over six months. 

“Since early February, our garbage pickup has been missed at least one out of every three weeks,” Grant said. “We can’t get the garbage service to answer the phone. At best our garbage is picked up two days late, but usually its up to six days late.”

Chairman Charlie King Jr. assured Grant that there is a solution for this issue coming soon.

“This is a problem we’re aware of,” King said. “We’ve had some truck problems but we are trying to buy some more trucks. We had a discussion this morning and were promised that the situation would be resolved in the next few weeks, and citizens should not be charged for weeks that their garbage was not picked up.”

Also in attendance at the meeting was Tim Heath, Administrator of the Lowndes County Health Department, who introduced officials from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) to shed light on an ongoing public health issue within the county: improper disposal of raw sewage.

ADPH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karen Landers, ADPH Disease Control Chief Medical officer Dr. Burnestine Taylor, and ADPH Deputy Director of Environmental Services Ronald Dawsey addressed the commission to discuss the risks associated with individuals coming into contact with raw sewage, as well as potential solutions to the issue.

Other issues were addressed during the meeting as well such as the need for a cattle gap on a rural county road, expansion of a roadway on campus of the Hayneville Cemetery, the potential of introducing a solar farm to the county, and repairs being made to roof of the county courthouse.

Lowndes County Commision board meetings are held on the second Monday of each month at 10 a.m. and the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m., with the next meeting being held on Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m. 

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend these meetings, however any citizen who would like to address the commission regarding a problem or issue should first contact Geraldine Ingram at 334-548-2331 (ext. 1001) to have the topic added to the agenda for the next meeting.