By Fred Woods
Opelika Observer

Three years ago, the Beulah Utilities District was in disarray. The BUD was losing money and, without some drastic changes, faced gradual depletion of its cash reserves. The District was not operating well at all. Water losses were averaging 22.6 percent a month on an annual basis with some months much higher. Now, three years later, water losses are less than 10 percent monthly and improving from that.
With help from Beulah’s county commissioner Robert Ham, a new board was appointed and things began to improve. A transition to local operations and management was completed officially in November, 2014.
At the July 31 Lee County Commission meeting, the Beulah Utilities District was recognized for winning an Award of Excellence from the Alabama Water and Pollution Control Association. Houston Black, outstanding young manager of the BUD, said that Beulah actually finished second, with 95.5 points out of 100, in its size category to Guntersville, which scored 97 points.
The commission also scheduled two public hearings, each regarding vacating public roads, for Sept. 25, to be held prior to the regularly scheduled commission meeting on that date.
The first involves vacating a one-lane portion of Lee Road 425 across a dam near the Heath Lake Subdivision.
The second hearing is in response to a petition brought by local attorney Bob Petty on behalf of landowner Steven Corbett to abandon portions of three county roads, LR 259, LR 260 and LR 277. All of the portions of road proposed to be vacated lie within land owned by Mr. Corbett.
Apparently this vacating request has to do with public safety and reducing illegal activity. The roads not only lie within, they also dead-end within Mr. Corbett’s property and have become centers for drug trafficking and other illegal activities.
Sheriff’s Office Capt. Corey Welch, on behalf of Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, asked the commission to approve a consulting agreement with Secured Perimeters International (SPI) for assistance in bid preparation for inmate telephone services and a letter of authorization for data collection and analysis of revenues received from current providers.
The data collection and analysis are necessary because of recent changes in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and the need to know that all fees charged, now as well as past years, are properly allocated.
In other action, the commission:
– recognized Highway Department employee Jeff Deaton, who retired at the end of July with 25 years of service to the county,
– approved the use of county equipment and personnel to grade and smooth the parking lot and driveway at the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve and
– scheduled remaining FY2018 budget work sessions to follow regular commission meetings on Aug. 14 and 28, and Sept. 11. Work sessions were also scheduled for 5 p.m. on Sept. 12 and 13, if needed.