By Fred Woods

The Lee County Commission, in this week’s regular meeting, voted to move forward with a grant application to obtain federal funds, up to $250,000, to build a new senior center at Beulah in eastern Lee County. The grant would be an 80-20 match, and Lee County’s portion could be made up, in large part, by in-kind and donated contributions. Grant application will be made in cooperation with the Lee-Russell Council of Governments and would go through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

Beulah’s current senior center is located in the basement of an old wooden structure owned by the county and used for many years for home economics classes by Beulah High School.

State Sen. Gerald Dial and Rep. DuWayne Bridges, both of whom have supported efforts to get a new senior center for Beulah for several years, were present at the meeting to present Commissioner Robert Ham (who represents the Beulah area) with a $10,000 check from the Alabama Commission on Senior Services to be used for start-up expenses in connection with the center. The two legislators also reported that Neal Morrison, director of the commission had already committed to furnishing the facility.

The Bridge Church at Cusseta recently donated 2.2 acres of land for a building site, overcoming one major obstacle to the center. The value of the land will count as a portion of the county’s required grant match.

Kathy Carson, county Emergency Management Authority Director, provided an update on the Salem/Crawford tornado recovery. Although FEMA has not provided assistance amounts, Carson reported that 140 individuals of a total of 225 affected had received assistance. Carson said, “I hope that we have reached everyone who needs assistance and is eligible for it.”

In other action the commission:

– appointed Lamar Sims to the Beulah Utilities Board (second reading).

– heard Ham nominate Leon McCloskey (first reading) for an additional vacancy on the Beulah Utility Board. There were six applications for this vacancy, an indication of Beulah area citizens’ interest in the Board’s activities.

– heard Christine Washington’s concerns about poor road conditions on her unpaved portion of Lee Road 246 in the Smiths Station area. That portion of LR 246, once scheduled for paving, was apparently left unpaved when the commission ended new road paving in 2010. But, as Washington pointed out, people who live on dirt roads pay taxes, too. The county highway department will attempt to improve conditions on the road.

– approved obtaining a POW/MIA flag to be flown in front of the courthouse.

– approved an Interlocal Contract with the Houston-Galveston (Texas) Area Council to allow the Highway Department to purchase a track excavator. More and more local governments are forming alliances to gain cost advantages in acquiring equipment and services.

– approved bids for a License Plate Reader  for the Sheriff’s Office.

– approved bids for LED bulbs, parking lot lights and wall pack light fixtures.