By Michelle Key
Probate Judge Bill English, Chairman of the Lee County Commission, announced during Monday night’s commission meeting that the Loachapoka Community Center, which is the registered polling site for that area, has been deemed unsafe for public use by Charles E. Whitley, P.E., of Engineering Design & Testing Corp. (EDT).
In a letter to Joel Hubbard, Whitley detailed findings of structural damage to the building. Damage including broken floor joists, timbers and framing members was observed in all areas of the facility with the greatest concentration being near its center. Many of the members have small holes throughout them, indicating that wood-destroying organisms are either currently present or have been present, causing damage to the interior of the wood structures.
Because of this development, the polling place for the March 3 primary election has been moved to the Loachapoka Town Hall. English stated that postcards were mailed out to all registered voters notifying them of the change in polling location.
During the public comment period, Opelika resident Fred Woods and Coroner Bill Harris both addressed the commission regarding the Lee County Emergency Management Agency director’s position. Both Woods and Harris spoke in favor of the commission offering the position to EMA’s Public Information Officer Rita Smith.
“Do the right thing, do the smart thing and do what we elected you to do. Name the qualified person that you already have to the job and be done with it and don’t waste the taxpayer’s money,” Woods said.
“Eventually the top candidate y’all chose decided not to take the job. I think in all fairness, that your second candidate that you had in the top two should be given a fair chance to prove herself in the position… We have worked very closely with Rita over the past years and [have] had no issues whatsoever. She is very smart and knows the job well… I would recommend that you appoint her as EMA Director,” Harris said.
In other business, the commission:
• voted to approve the minutes of Feb. 10 commission meeting
• voted to ratify and approve claims
• heard from Calvin Bellamy on the conditions of the dirt portion of Lee Road 246
• approved the annual Lodging Tax Revenue Administration Agreement
• voted to approve amendments to the Subdivision Regulations – the changes that were approved will effectively require that no more than two lots will be able to share a common non-county maintained driveway, and any subdivision of three to 10 lots will have to build a road that meets the amended standards, which are less restrictive than those for subdivisions with greater than 10 lots, but will still allow for the county to accept the roads for permanent maintenance. The amendments to these regulations will go into effect 30 days from the date of the approval
• approved a request from the Lee County Board of Education for the highway department to provide assistance with improving baseball fields near the Smiths Station Junior High School. Materials to improve the fields have been donated, and the county will provide the transportation of the materials.
• approved a request from John McDonald, the Environmental Services Director, pertaining to the county’s participation in the Alabama Recycling Fund Grant Program. McDonald requested that the commission grant approval for the chairman and Deputy Administrator Alice McCall to sign a resolution allowing the county to participate in the program. Lee County partners with the cities of Auburn and Opelika as well as Auburn University in securing the grant funds to further recycling efforts so as to divert materials from the landfill and to protect the environment.
• approved a request from Joel Hubbard, Chief Building Official and NFIP Floodplain Administrator to approve updates to the Flood Damage Prevention Plan. FEMA required all entities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to revise or update their resolution.
County Commission meetings are held at 5 p.m. on the second and last Monday nights of every month. Meetings are held in the commission chambers which are located on the second floor of the courthouse annex.
The courthouse is located at 215 S. 9th St. in downtown Opelika.