County prepares to begin Courthouse Annex

Special to the Opelika Observer

By Fred Woods

The Courthouse Annex Project took two small but necessary steps forward at last week’s county commission meeting as commissioners (1) authorized a $6.5 million, 15-year loan from Region’s Bank at a 2.52 percent interest rate and the issuance of warrant, dated June 1, 2017, to evidence the loan, and (2) instructed the County Engineer to proceed with demolition of the old Tyner Building, which was in the way of construction. Overall financing of the $9.9-million project had been approved at a commission meeting last month.
The commission also approved a study to identify potential sites for community tornado shelters that offer protection to the greatest possible number of Lee County residents. The study, which will cost about $4,000, will be done by Dr. Phillip Chaney, professor in Auburn University’s Department of Geosciences. It was requested by Commissioner Lawrence earlier this year following a somewhat controversial awarding of a shelter lease on private property adjacent to an RV park which will probably benefit few, if any, Lee County residents.
At the request of county engineer Justin Hardee, commissioners approved a resolution addressed to the Alabama Department of Transportation, requesting leftover ATRIP funds to resurface the Society Hill Road (L.R. 54) from the La-Z Bee to Gateway Drive. This would complete the resurfacing of that road from the Macon County line to the Gateway Drive intersection in Opelika.
This project was originally requested in Lee County’s ATRIP application but was taken out by ALDOT claiming that the county had not demonstrated its ability to provide its cost share, a finding disputed by Lee County, hence the hope that ALDOT will approve the project.
If approved the project would be funded on an 80/20 cost share with 80 percent coming from ATRIP funds and 20 percent from the county.
The commission also approved in executive session final steps in the acquisition of recreation acreages in both Beauregard and Beulah suitable for the construction of ball fields to replace lands previously acquired by the Lee County Recreation Committee which were unsuited for such purposes. Tax revenues designated for recreation purpose will be used to finance the purchases as well as the development of the two properties.
An additional benefit of the Beauregard property is that it will enable the construction of an access road for Beauregard Elementary School to Lee Road 400 that will ease morning and afternoon traffic pressures on Alabama Hwy. 51 and may even eliminate the need for at least one sheriff’s deputy now needed to direct traffic.
Both property parcels are in commission district 4 and their acquisition would not have happened had it not been for the efforts of District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham. Ham points out that the county still has the properties that are unsuited for recreational purposes. He believes the county will recover at least its initial investment when these properties are sold.
In other action, the commission:
– received Revenue Commissioner Oline Price’s Annual Final Report of Litigations and Insolvencies prior to her final settlement with the  State Comptroller’s Office (generally collections were up and litigations and  insolvencies down.),
– granted plat approval to Hornet Flats Subdivision in Beauregard and Lake Harding Subdivision #7 ,
– approved two Adopt-A-Mile requests and
– approved minor changes to the county’s Personnel Policy Handbook.


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