By Fred Woods

The Lee County Commission voted to proceed with construction of a 3.024 square foot Senior Center in the Beulah community. Beulah seniors had been using a basement room in a 100-year old building near the Beulah High School. Every time it rains the room floods.

This action was taken at last Monday’s regular commission because of the approaching July 10 deadline for submission of application for a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) award for nearly half of the construction cost. Total project cost is estimated at $518,406 so the county’s portion will be $268,406.

These funds will come from a one-year reduction in the allocation from General Fund to Highway in the County budget. To put this in perspective, the total yearly allocation is usually around $4 million and the transferred amount would resurface less than two miles of road.

In all likelihood the total cost will be substantially less as several firms and construction material providers have already expressed a willingness to reduce fees and provide materials at considerable discounts. District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham, who has led efforts leading to these actions, has said the supporters of the project are looking to do “just as many things as we can to reduce costs.”

In addition, state Sen. Gerald Dial has committed to seeking $25,000 to $50,000 from other state funding for the center. The county will also be credited for in-kind services for site preparation and other services.

Bridge Church of Cusseta has donated a very attractive two-acre building site for the center on Lee Road 270.

County EMA Director Kathy Carson reported that clean-up after the April 29 tornado in southern Lee County has been completed and rebuilding is well underway. Ms. Carson praised county employee efforts to get started soon after the tornado, resulting in recouping county expenditures through maximum cost-share funds from the state and FEMA.

County Engineer Justin Hardee announced that Lee Road 148 (Spring Villa Road), closed for several weeks due to still another sink hole, was opened Tuesday, July 1, for traffic, although the final surface has not been put down. A couple of weeks worth of time and traffic will allow the road surface to settle before resurfacing is completed.

In other actions the commission:

ϖ declined to join with the City of Auburn to petition for “Quiet Zones” at two railroad crossings on Alabama Highway 14. This means trains could not sound their horns when approaching these crossings. Commissioners felt it was not in the interests of public safety to comply with the Auburn request.

ϖ approved several requests for the Highway Department.

ϖ asked Mr. Hardee to do a traffic study to see if lower speed limits would be appropriate for a section of Lee Road 70.

ϖ reappointed Sheriff Jay Jones and appointed Randy Causey to the Lee County Emergency Communications (E911) Board.

ϖ approved new space at the Smiths Station Government Center for the revenue commissioner and committed to reimbursing the City of Smiths Station for renovation costs over a period of three years.