Citizens tells commissioners expenditure of taxpayer funds not needed

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By Fred Woods
Opelika Observer

Local history may have been made at last Monday’s Lee County Commission meeting when a citizen appeared to ask the commissioners not to spend money already allocated to his road because it wasn’t needed.
Several weeks ago, the commission had vacated a single-lane portion of Lee Road 425 where it crossed the privately-owned Heath Lake dam in southeast Lee County near the Russell County line in Commission District V.
The single-lane connector was deemed no longer needed as other road outlets were available on either side of the dam.
The commission voted to build cul-de-sacs on each side of the dam for uniformed motorists to turn around in.
Carey Scroggins, who lives on the north side of the dam, contacted District V Commissioner John A. Harris, who took Scroggins to see County Engineer Justin Hardee, who agreed that traffic counts did not justify constructing the cul-de-sacs.
Scroggins told the commission that drivers had quickly adjusted to the road closure and that he was sure the funds could be used on other, much more needed highway department projects in county.
Commissioners tabled the matter until its Dec. 11 meeting to allow District III Commissioner Gary Long time to consult Smiths Station Fire and Rescue officials to see if they thought the cul-de-sacs were needed for fire engines to turn around in. Mr. Hardee had already contacted Lee Lindsay, transportation director for Lee County schools who said the 50-foot diameter of asphalt available for cul-de-sac/turnarounds would not benefit county school buses which have a larger turning radius.
Hardee also notified the Commission that he had selected John McDonald for the position of Director of Environmental Services for the county.
McDonald, a nine-year county employee and a superintendent for the last five years, had been acting in the position since mid-September following former director Chris Bozeman’s resignation due to ill health.
“During that period Mr. McDonald has communicated effectively with me regarding multiple issues and their resolution,” Hardee said. “He has begun implementing changes throughout the department to improve its efficiency and to enhance its image among the citizens of Lee County.”
The commission also took several actions regarding funding for the Lee County School Board, including an agreement to continue a county sales tax, the proceeds of which are authorized for public school purposes, until a Refunding Warrant is retired, expected on or before Feb. 1, 2024. Related actions involved calling for the redemption of Series 2009 Limited Obligation School warrants maturing in 2019 on Feb. 1, 2018 and authorizing an Escrow Trust Agreement between the Lee County Board of Education and Regions Bank.
In other action, the commission:
– reappointed (second reading) Julie Rendleman to another term on the Public Building Authority and appointed Garnett McCollum to the Beulah Utilities District Board
– adopted the Fiscal Year 2018 Holiday schedule and made necessary adjustments in commission meeting days and
– moved employee life insurance coverage to Metlife and increased full-time employee coverage from $5,000 to $10,000.

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