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Minooka Park road to be paved

By Scott Mims

The Chilton County Commission voted 4-3 Monday night to pave the entrance road to Minooka Park, also known as County Road 146, for $52,000 in funding that will come out of the park’s account.

In his motion, Commissioner Red Turnipseed made it clear that the project was not to take priority over existing projects on roads elsewhere in the county.

Commissioners Tim Mims, Greg Moore and Joe Headley each voted “nay” on the measure.

The discussion to pave the park entrance road arose from a report by Park Manager Gerald Arrington on the recent completion of new RV campgrounds at Minooka, which is located off U.S. 31 between Jemison and Calera.

“They all ask about that road,” Arrington said, referring to the now unpaved 1.9-mile entrance road, or 146.

Commissioner Allen Caton, who looks over park and recreation, said the dirt road has deterred companies from bringing promotional items to the park.

County Engineer Tony Wearren presented three different figures for the estimated project cost. It would cost about $52,000 to pave the road with chip seal, about $286,000 to pave it with asphalt, and just more than $130,000 to pave one layer of asphalt riding surface over chip seal.

“It’s not as strong but you’re still riding on asphalt,” said Wearren, explaining the third option.

A majority of commissioners decided to go with the most inexpensive option. But before the voting took place, Mims disagreed with the proposed project’s timing.

“It is absolutely absurd for us to go pave that road with county funds when we’ve got roads in this county in the shape they’re in,” Mims said.

Although Commissioner Heedy Hayes ultimately voted “yea,” he was troubled by the uncertainty shown by some commissioners.

“I really think we need to look at where we are and what we’ve got,” Hayes said.

Caton then explained that because the money would be coming out of Minooka Park’s fund, which currently contains about $61,000, it could not be used for other things. Arrington also said the park would be getting a final grant reimbursement of $172,987 from the clearing of a 2005 grant, but this process might take a few months.

“There’s money in the Minooka Park fund to pay for this,” Caton said.

Commissioner Bobby Agee brought up the point that the rising cost of paving materials was not going to make the project any easier in the future.

“We talked about this two years ago, and the cost then was considerably lower than it is now,” Agee said.

Turnipseed had originally withdrawn his motion but later made a new motion with the provision that the road would not be paved until other projects ranked above it were completed.

Mims also asked if money taken out of the trade school fund to pay park workers’ salaries could be repaid to the fund. Attorney John Hollis Jackson said it could be done but that the original transactions were legal.

Mims told commissioners that if the park ran like a business, it would ultimately pay for its own workers.