By Fred Woods
In a rare Wednesday night meeting last week, the Lee County Commission unanimously voted to abandon its separate work session and official meeting schedule and hold just the regular meeting, which will now begin at 5 p.m. The new time will be effective for the Nov. 24 meeting and thereafter.
Meetings will continue to be held the second and last Mondays of each month unless rescheduled because of Monday holidays.
For a number of years the commission held a separate work session from 4-6 p.m. and its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Most of the discussion of issues took place at the work sessions, and formal action took place at the regular meeting with very little discussion, leaving citizens coming to the 6 p.m. regular meeting bewildered and believing that commission decisions were often made behind closed doors. Commissioner Sheila Eckman, who sponsored the change, said she believes the new schedule, where discussion of issues and resolution of them will immediately follow, will be far more transparent for citizens. Eckman noted that she had sponsored a similar change for the Auburn City Council when she was a council member and that “it has been very effective.”
The commission also recognized retired Special Forces CSM Bennie Adkins of Opelika for his recent award of the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism during the Vietnam war. Adkins was presented the American flag that was flown over the Lee County Courthouse Sept. 15, the day he was awarded the Medal of Honor by the president in a White House ceremony. Lee County Sheriff’s Sgt. Rebecca Tate, who commanded the detail of deputies who raised, lowered and folded the flag, said every member of the detail was a veteran.
The commission, at County Administrator Roger Rendleman’s request, voted to allocate $150,000 from the General Fund, covered by last year’s surplus, to reconfigure the front entry to the Justice Center to allow for a second screening station and to resurface Justice Center parking lots. The second station will minimize the length of time citizens have to wait outside at peak volume times and should especially be appreciated during cold and rainy days.
The parking lot resurfacing will be done when the contractor is finishing the new parking lot and will result in a substantial savings over having to bring equipment back and resurface at a later date.
The commission also approved Rendleman’s request to refinance  the remaining portion of a 2004 General Obligation Bond issue with a BBVA Compass bank loan, resulting in a saving of $62,000 to the county. Rendleman was able to negotiate a 1.71 percent annual interest rate.
The commission also:
– increased the speed limit on Lee Road 146 (Moore’s Mill Road) between Hwy. 51 and Lee Road 166 from 40 to 45 miles per hour. Now the speed limit is 45 miles per hour for all of LR 146.
– scheduled a work session after the Nov. 24 meeting to look at legislative issues for the current legislative session. The only issue currently identified is one to set speed limits in county subdivisions at a uniform 25 miles per hour.
– scheduled two additional work sessions: one on county roads following the Dec. 8 meeting and one to discuss a proposed county noise ordinance following the Jan. 26, 2015, meeting.
– heard second reading (appointment) of two appointments: Jerry Bentley of Smiths Station and Dianne Carlton of Opelika to the Lee County Youth Development Board.
– heard first reading (nomination) of William Parker Jr., of Opelika and Edgar Adams of Smiths Station for vacancies on the Lee County Alternative Sentencing Board. Both of these men are currently serving on this board.