By Fred Woods
After considerable discussion among themselves and with affected community members, Lee County commissioners, by a 3-2 vote, rejected a motion to leave the old bridge on Lee Road 65, north of Loachapoka, open while a new bridge is being constructed. This option, offered by Commissioner Sheila Eckman and supported by Commissioner Johnny Lawrence, would relieve some 45 residents of a lengthy detour for a period of 9-12 months while the new bridge is being built. Other reasons cited by residents in favor of the defeated option had to do with safety concerns and adverse economic impact on residents, chiefly increased fuel costs.
There is a 4-plus mile stretch of unpaved road in the detour that is reportedly difficult to travel during rainy periods, and there is a 2-mile “dead zone” for cellphones within this unpaved stretch, and there are no houses.
On the other hand, the rejected option would have increased the cost of the $1 million-project by $203,000 and would have represented an exception to established commission policy. Presumably, although not specifically stated during the meeting, this means the county highway department will proceed with the usual process of demolishing the old bridge and building the new one on the same site.
The commission also scheduled two work sessions for next Monday, Oct. 20. At 5:30 p.m. commissioners will meet with the Lee County Recreation Board to discuss the process for the new sales tax proceeds and board appointment and membership processes. At 6:30 p.m. the commission, along with interested parties, will look at county ambulance service concerns.
Action on the proposed county noise ordinance was deferred until at least the next scheduled commission meeting at the request of Commissioner Robert Ham. County Administrator Roger Rendleman reminded the commission that the process (required advertising, etc.) must be done again before the ordinance can be passed.
After hearing the opposition of several residents from the neighborhood, the commission rejected a proposed lounge liquor license for the Iron Horse Saloon on Highway 51 in Beauregard. Residents cited proximity to Sanford Middle School and residential areas and highway dangers.
In other actions commissioners:
– at the request of Mrs. Selena Daniel, approved $1,000 from the Contingency Fund for the use of Lee County delegates to the Alabama Silver-Haired Legislature.
– approved acceptance of roads in the Holland Creek Subdivision near Smiths Station for permanent maintenance by the county.
– held second reading (appointment) of three positions (Cooper James, Chris Nunn and Bob Dumas) to the East Alabama Health Care Authority Board.
– approved Lee County participation in ACCA’s Safety Incentive Discount Program. For participants this means a sizable discount in the Liability and Workman’s Compensation funds.