By Fred Woods

At the Oct. 26 regular meeting the Lee County Commission voted unanimously to proceed with the next phase of the Downtown Facilities projects, tearing out the old jail add-on to the original courthouse, constructing an annex office building adjacent to the courthouse and parallel to Avenue A to house revenue commission and appraisal staffs and construct a second story for the EMA building for offices and day-to-day operations and renovating the existing area for emergency operations and communication.
The first phase involved converting the old Highway Department Building on Auburn St. into a controlled environment records storage facility and renovating the old Johnson Gallery building on S. 10th St. behind the courthouse into a training/conference facility. This facility will also provide temporary office space for employees displaced during the next phase. These will primarily be those now housed in the old jail portion of the existing courthouse.
This phase is estimated to cost just under $7.8 million and will be completed by 2018.
The commission also approved the funding and the maintenance agreements for the Smiths Station (Hwy. 280) Railroad Corridor Project. This project will place active warning devices at the crossing on Lee Road 927, immediately across the street from Smiths Station High School.The county will continue to be responsible for maintaining passive warning devices (highway markings, signs, etc.) on county portions of the right-of-way. These devices will be up-graded. The railroad will be responsible for all devices located on their ROW.
At the request of Mr. Rendleman the commission rescinded its earlier approval of the low bid for ceiling demolition at the Lee County Detention Center when the apparent low bidder could not live up to his offer. The bid was re-awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, Steward Construction Co., Inc., of Selma, for $294,932.
In other action the commission:
-voted to lower speed limits on county roads in the Avalon Acres (Bleeker/Shotwell area) and Mill Creek (Smiths Station) subdivisions,
-heard from Wendy Swann that Lee County had once again met the nine requirements to participate in the ACCA Liability Self-Insurance Program and authorized Chairman Bill English to sign the requisite verification form and
-approved the County Recreation Board’s selection of an Auburn firm to guide the recreation board in the preparation of a Lee County   Recreation Master Plan.