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Courthouse needs fire alarm system

The state fire marshal’s office is requiring the Chilton County Commission to bring the courthouse up to code by installing a fire alarm system and upgrading fire exits.

Yesterday the commission voted to solicit bids on a fire alarm system, which the courthouse does not currently have.

“The main thing is we’ve got to come up with the money to fund it,” Commissioner Allen Caton said in a phone interview.

The fire alarm system, which has not been budgeted, would run somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000. The replacement of doors and hardware on the courthouse’s two stairwell exits, which has been budgeted, would cost about $1,000 and would come out of the maintenance fund.

Commissioner Red Turnipseed brought up the issue of overcrowding in the courthouse, particularly on the third floor where lawyers have to meet with their clients with little privacy.

“We’re putting good money into a bad building, it sounds like to me,” Turnipseed said, adding that his office consisted of an old witness room.

Caton said that initially, he would rather see a new judicial building than a new courthouse. Joe Headley said some land might be available near the site of the County Jail.

“That would be the place for it,” Headley said.

The commission will begin advertising for bids on the fire alarm system in February.

In other business, they voted to finance 11 new sheriff’s vehicles — seven patrol cars and four Ford F-150s — through Colonial Bank at the interest rate of 3.98 percent.

The commission also:

Voted to formally change the name of the Chilton County Emergency Management Communications District to Chilton County E-911 District, at the request of E-911 Director Helen Smith

Granted Tax Collector Tim Little permission to fill a full-time slot with part-time employee Melanie Cranford

Went into executive session just before 12:30 p.m. to discuss a pending legal matter. No decision pertaining to the executive session followed prior to adjournment.