Commission closes on future courthouse property

Published 2:16 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

The Chilton County Commission approved closing on the Sims property that is adjacent to the future location of the new Chilton County courthouse at its March 28 meeting. In addition to the eight acres of land on Highway 145 that the county and the city of Clanton are exchanging, the five acres of the Sim property will give the commission 13 acres to work with when building the new courthouse.

Chairman Jimmie Hardee was absent from the meeting, but Commissioner Randell Kelley said the survey of the land looked good, and it was ready to be closed on.

Commissioner Darrell Bone made the motion to close on the property, and Commissioner Joe Headley seconded it. Commissioner Allen Williams commented that, according to the architect, the eight acres from the city of Clanton is enough to build the courthouse on. However, Commissioners Joseph Parnell and Kelley both said the eight acres would not be enough in the future, if they wanted to expand the building, or add another judicial building there. The current courthouse was built in 1961.

The motion to close on the property passed unanimously, and Williams abstained from voting. The closing price for the five acres of land was $300,000.

The commission introduced new Chilton County engineer Heath Sexton to the public at the meeting as well. Sexton is the former county engineer of Dallas County.

“I appreciate the opportunity to come to Chilton County and serve the residents,” Sexton said. “It is a wonderful county and a wonderful community. Getting to know the employees (at the road department), it is a great group, and it was demonstrated by the fact they were willing to work overtime when we had the flash flood (on March 27). We had several residents that were stranded, and they were willing to work overtime to make sure those people had access to their properties. The engineering staff has been very welcoming, and I look forward to working with them to improve our roads.”

The commission approved designating $250,000 of the seven-cent gas tax for debt service. Only $250,000 of the tax will be going towards the debt service.

“That is only $250,000 of the seven-cent gas tax, and that is going to go towards paying off some of the road paving that we have done over the last couple of years,” Parnell said. “We are trying to snowball those debts, so we can do some more road servicing.”

Williams asked that the hours at Minooka Park include being open to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays to make it open seven days a week like Higgins Ferry. Commissioner Matthew Mims, who is assigned to Minooka Park, said he would get with the park ranger and see how that could be accomplished.

The meeting was the first for nominations for openings on the Chilton Water Authority Board and the Airport Authority Board. The Chilton Water Authority requested Harry Benson be reappointed, and Williams nominated Benson. The Airport Authority requested Troy Rutherford and Jeff Mims be reappointed, and Williams nominated both of them as well.

Nominations for the two boards openings will remain open for two more meetings, and voting will be held for both at the April 25 commission meeting.

It was the second meeting for nominations for the Central Alabama Wellness Board, and no new nominations were made. Jason Calhoun was nominated last meeting, and nominations will remain open for one more meeting. Voting will be held at the April 11 commission meeting.

Janelle Sierra, executive director of SafeHouse of Shelby County, gave public comments about the services that they provide Chilton County residents such as resources and forensic services. In Chilton County, SafeHouse only serves sexual assault victims, and they served 33 clients and their children in Chilton County within the last year.

Wendy Fuller, prevention outreach coordinator for the Family Sunshine Center in Montgomery, also gave public comments about the services they offer to Chilton County residents. In Chilton County, Family Sunshine serves only victims of domestic violence, and the agency served 13 adults and two children in Chilton County within the last year. A total of 130 hours of counseling services were dedicated to those victims.

Also, during the meeting, the commission:

  • Scheduled a work session for the road department, Humane Society of Chilton County and the Chilton County Industrial Development Authority on April 4 at 6:15 p.m. in the commission room.
  • Reclassified Stephen Brock to a full-time deputy and hired Britten Angilito Worrall as a full-time corrections officer.
  • Approved permission for the road department to advertise and hire a CDL class A driver, equipment operator, shop foreman and north crew foreman from both the existing and new pool of applicants.
  • Approved to advertise and hire a part-time and full-time transit driver.
  • Approved to reappoint Sylvia Singleton to the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.
  • Approved to build a tower for the P25 countywide emergency communications system rather than purchase and install one, and purchase a generator for the Cedar Grove Station 2 tower.