By Fred Woods
The recent meeting of the Lee County Commission was highlighted by recognition of the Beauregard High School football team as Alabama’s 2016 Class 5A state champions. The commission authorized the county engineer to explore appropriate signage in the vicinity of Beauregard High School on Alabama Highway 51 proclaiming the championship.
The commission also unanimously approved a re-bid low bid by Marshall and Associates of Montgomery for the construction of a Senior Center in Beulah. Marshall’s total base bid was $755,800, which exceeded the original cost estimate of $613,610 for the center by $142,190, far less than the $289,000 bid over-run cited by County Administrator Roger Rendleman and reported elsewhere.
In a December 2015 resolution accepting a $250,000 ADECA grant for the Senior Center the county agreed to match the grant with $363,610 of county funds which, it was noted, had already been budgeted and set aside, so the over-budget amount should put far less strain on current county resources as has been reported, even with the unexplained two add-ons to the base bid totaling an extra $51,000.
The increased cost of the Senior Center was attributed to ADECA grant requirements to include a storm shelter strong enough to withstand hurricane-force winds, higher wage requirements since the grant is federal pass-through money and the increased amount of construction activity in the area meaning less competition among builders.
Kathy Carson, county Emergency Management Agency director, spoke to the importance of a storm shelter to the local community. She noted that the Beulah community has lots of mobile homes which are at extreme risk in the event of tornadoes. While the Senior Center shelter would have only a 20-25 person capacity, there are currently no public shelters in the community.
Fifteen to 20 Beulah residents were present to lend their support to the need for the center. Their spokesman, widely-respected community leader and chairman of the Beulah Utilities District Lamar Sims, told the commissioners, “Beulah needs this Senior Center and we need it now.” Sims reminded the commission of the inadequacies of the old center. He also spoke of the growing community pride in Beulah and how much this center would mean to the community.
The commission also authorized a Federal Aid Agreement for the widening and resurfacing of Lee County Road 379 from LR 372 to the Chambers County line, a distance of 2.8 miles. This road is the primary commuting route for people who live in the Valley area and work in Phenix City and Columbus. The total project cost is $1,354,492 with the federal share just over $1 million.
In other action the commission:
*approved appointment of Jason Flowers and Adam Littleton to the Smiths Water and Sewer Authority and nominated David Jackson to fill a vacancy on the Beulah Utilities District Board,
*approved amendments to the Lee County Subdivision and Land Development Regulations,
*at the request of the Lee County Board of Education lowered the speed limit on Lee Road 145 adjacent to the Lee County Learning Center during school hours,
*approved a retail beer and wine license for The Store 4 at 5740 US Hwy 29N, Opelika,
*approved extension of lease with city of Auburn for the satellite office at Colonial Mall, and
*at the request of Environmental manager Chris Bozeman approved continuing the 10-year partnership with Opelika, Auburn and Auburn University in the Alabama Recycling Fund Grant Program.