By Fred Woods

According to Environmental Services Director Chris Bozeman, the county’s animal control program is operating successfully. One year after the contract with the Lee County Humane Society was terminated and the county began operating its own animal control program, housing animals with local veterinarians, the county program came in $30.000 under budget.
The county’s animal control officers responded to 1,563 calls and picked up 1,338 animals last year. These numbers are higher than the previous year but not higher than those reported as received by the Humane Society because of the society’s method of allocating animals brought to their shelter by individuals.
Lee County’s contract with the Humane Society was not renewed after the Humane Society demanded a 20 percent increase in funds and was unwilling to negotiate a lesser amount.
Although several county veterinarians take in animals from the county, most go to two local clinics. The vets provide, for each animal, a flea pill, seven days boarding and, if necessary, euthanasia. The clinics are responsible for any adoption effort. Last year 210 animals, 16 percent of those picked up – roughly the same percentage as the last year of the Humane Society contract – were adopted. The percentage of animals euthanized was 67 percent as compared with 70 percent for the last year through the Humane Society.
Local veterinarians Buddy Bruce and Gary Hunt and county animal control personnel agree the program is operating well and no changes are necessary.
Lee Road 10 (Sand Hill Road) was closed last Monday just west of Good Ol’ Boys restaurant for replacement of the bridge over Chewacla Creek. Replacement is expected to take five to six months, weather permitting. The county highway department will handle the approach work on either side of the bridge, hopefully speeding up the job’s completion a little more.
Hopefully the new bridge will be in place and the road reopened by the last of July, well before the fall football weekend crowds.
Immediately following the regular meeting, the commission held a work session to discuss a proposed county noise ordinance and the county legislative package to be presented to the legislative delegation for the upcoming state legislative session.
The proposed noise ordinance was first discussed at a regular meeting last fall. Commissioner Robert Ham presented a new draft ordinance Monday night that relied on sound levels and distances as measured by a decibel meter instead of deputy sheriffs’ discretion as called for in last fall’s draft. Discussion centered on quality and cost of decibel meters.
The current draft sets penalties for noise violations at $150 per day up to $5,000. Penalties would be paid to the sheriff’s office and used for the administration and enforcement of the ordinance. People could contest the penalty by filing a grievance with the Lee County Commission. The intent of the ordinance is to “ … provide citizens with an environment free from such excess sounds or noise as may jeopardize their health, welfare and safety or degrade the quality of life.”
Commissioners were challenged to look over the draft and bring it back for discussion and action at a subsequent commission meeting.
The legislative package discussion included: a proposal to set speed limits on all county roads in platted subdivisions at 25 miles per hour; a pay-as-you-go program which, if approved in a county referendum, would impose a five cent fuel tax to fund specific county road and bridge projects over a specified period of time not to exceed five years; a proposal to increase Sheriff Jay Jones’ salary from $87,650 (set in 2008) to $93,785.50 (1 percent a year); and legislation to specifically recognize the collection of fees for various services performed by the sheriff’s office (background checks, fingerprinting for various organizations, etc.) and their subsequent transmittal for deposit in the county’s general fund. Other proposals may be considered before meeting with the legislators.
At the regular commission meeting, other items included:
– Commissioner John Andrew Harris announced a community meeting for Feb. 12 at 5 p.m. at the Loachapoka Community Center.
– Jones introduced members of the LCSO SWAT team that won second place in last year’s tactical team competition in Shelby County. This competition is held annually with nine to 15 teams from across the state competing.
– Mike Ward expressed his concerns about  mud being tracked by vehicles exiting the Sand Hill Recycling Center, located at 4520 US Hwy. 29 South, during and after rains. Apparently City of Auburn and Auburn University vehicles are frequent offenders. Not only is the mud unsightly, but it creates potentially dangerous road conditions and pollutes Parkerson Mill and Chewacla creeks when street sweepers sweep the dried mud off the road where the next rain washes it into the creek. Ward says both creeks may contain federally-protected wildlife species.
– approved execution of a contract for Terracon Consultants to develop six Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) plans for six county facilities as required by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).