County commission hears concerns over closed RR crossing

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By Fred Woods
Editor

A dangerous railroad crossing on Lee Road 749 in Salem was recently closed. The closure was, in part, a trade-off between Lee County Commission, the school board and the railroad. The LR 749 closure was the price to get the railroad to improve the safety of a railroad crossing directly across from Smiths Station High School, a $300,000 undertaking.
What’s the problem then? The crossing, as dangerous as it was, provided the most direct access to New Hope CME Church and the church members were not notified before the closure. At this week’s commission meeting, almost the entire congregation turned out to express their displeasure over the situation.
New Hope pastor Rev. Perry and James Smith, presiding elder of the church district, complained about the safety of an unpaved portion (about one mile) of the approximately 2 1/2 mile distance which has to be traveled from the old crossing and the fact that no prior notice was given to church members. Commissioner Robert Ham took full responsibility for the lack of notice, saying that he was not aware the church, which is apparently used only for Sunday services, was still active.
County Engineer Justin Hardee promised that the highway department would do all it could to improve the road within the limitations of the county right-of-way. Of course the county’s “no-paving” policy remains in effect as the county lacks the funds to properly maintain roads already paved.
Commissioners approved a Loachapoka High School request for assistance in repairing a driveway leading to a softball field. Hardee said this type of assistance had been provided to other county schools in the past and should be accomplished in “a day or two.”
The commission also approved two service agreements for Revenue Commissioner Oline Price, one to check mobile homes for required registration and tax decals, and the second to collect on bad checks submitted to the Revenue Office. Both are expected to increase the efficiency of Price’s office.
In other action the commission:
-clarified existing reimbursement levels for Beulah Utilities District directors,
-approved the highway department’s hiring a consultant for construction engineering and inspection,
-approved a bid from Fifth Avenue Cleaners for Sheriff’s Office uniform dry cleaning and
-after an executive session, authorized the county engineer and the solid waste director to negotiate the purchase of property to be used in the county solid waste program.

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