County to implement security plans at courthouse

Published 3:12 pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A lengthy but private discussion regarding security issues at the Chilton County Courthouse took place Monday night at the Chilton County Commission meeting.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Circuit Court Clerk Glenn McGriff addressed commissioners as a spokesman for elected officials in the county and requested an executive session to “discuss some issues with security at the courthouse.”

McGriff said there were some issues that had come up recently at the courthouse that needed to be discussed in executive session with commissioners.

Law enforcement representatives from the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department and several municipalities, judges and county prosecutors were some of the individuals asked to stay in the executive session.

The meeting re-convened into regular session shortly after 7 p.m.

Commissioner Shannon Welch made a motion under the commission reports section of the meeting to authorize Commission Chairman Allen Caton to appoint a committee to investigate security issues at the courthouse and authorize Caton to spend up to $15,000 to start implementing the security plans.

Commissioners heard from Thorsby High School Agri-Science instructor Brian Lucas who told commissioners the Thorsby FFA Meats Evaluation and Technology Team are state champions.

Lucas explained that because of the state championship title, the group would be traveling to Louisville, Ky., Oct. 27-Nov. 1 to compete at the national level, representing the state of Alabama.

“This group has been working really hard,” Lucas said. “This is the toughest contest in the FFA program.”

Lucas told commissioners the total cost for the trip would be roughly $3,800 and asked the commission if they would be willing to make a donation to support the trip.

Caton told Lucas the commission as a whole could not contribute, but mentioned some of the commissioners could donate individually.

Students who will be heading to nationals in the fall include, Jerrett Posey, Cody Lucas, Aniston Bolding and Carson Littleton.

All four students were present at Monday’s meeting.

The commission also heard from Nolan Easterling regarding flooding issues on County Road 455.

“We have been dealing with water issues since February,” Easterling said. “I have called the road department every month and turned in work orders. I really feel embarrassed that I should have to come up here and ask you about road issues because I know you have bigger fish to fry than my road. I just didn’t know if I am going about the process wrong with filling out work orders at the road department.”

Caton told Easterling that Chilton County Engineer Tony Wearren was taking down notes about the road and Wearren would get with Easterling in the future about how to fix the problem.

Caton provided commissioners with an update regarding the replacement of two air conditioners at the Chilton County Jail.

Caton said two commercial air conditioning units were installed with a total cost of roughly $16,000.

Commissioners declared an emergency at the Chilton County Jail on June 24 after learning two air conditioner units had stopped working.

The commission unanimously voted at the time to give Caton the authority under emergency measures to negotiate a price with a qualified air conditioner specialist and authorize the purchase of the two air conditioners in Pod D of the jail.

Commissioner Joseph Parnell told Caton on Monday that he spoke with numerous individuals who expressed anger with the commission for taking the vote to replace the air conditioning units.

“I spoke with people who were upset and thought the commission could have spent that money elsewhere,” Parnell said. “I think people didn’t understand that the conditions of not being able to open any windows or doors in a sealed environment was what we were dealing with. I told the people who talked to me that you couldn’t let someone live in that environment with temperatures getting close to 120 degrees.”

Caton told commissioners he also heard from individuals who were upset with the commission over the vote.

Caton said he would like to see the commission come up with a maintenance contract to prolong the life of the air conditioners.

“Right now, the filters aren’t being changed on a regular basis, the belts are not being maintained on a regular basis and we have one maintenance guy for the whole county,” Caton said. “That is probably something we should address at budget time.”

In other news the commission:

•Voted to upgrade County Road 50 from a minor collector to a major collector.

•Scheduled a work session Tuesday, July 22 at 5:30 p.m. to meet with representatives from the Chilton County Humane Society.

•Tabled a discussion regarding work for a control panel upgrade at the jail.

Commissioners read two bids submitted for work for a control panel upgrade during the May 26 commission meeting.

MECS LLC submitted a base bid of $84,900 and Unique Security Inc. submitted a base bid of $98,600.

Caton asked county administrator Connie Powell on May 26 to give the bids to someone at the Chilton County Jail to review and commissioners would award bids at the June 9 meeting.

On Monday, commissioners learned no one from the jail ever returned the bids to the commission.

Caton said the discussion would need to be tabled for a future commission meeting until a representative from the jail could offer input regarding the decision.

•Passed a resolution approving the 2014-2015 appraisal and mapping budget.