911 Building Purchase turns into heated discussion at Commission meeting

The Clay County Commission met Monday, December 14, 2015 for their December session. All Commissioners were present: Wayne Watts, John Wheeles, Ray Milstead, Roy Johnson and Ricky Burney.

911 Board members Monty Giddens and Mark Carr were present at the Planning session to update the Commission on the status of their new building purchase of the former Benefield Monument Company on South Park Rd in Lineville.

911 Board Officer Monty Giddens
911 Board Officer Monty Giddens

Giddens stated he felt the move was necessary to better secure 911 Operators and equipment.  The building will be updated and renovated. The moving process will take some time, as contractors will begin working soon on the renovations.

Giddens explained there would be no lapse or down time in 911 Operations during this move, as one station will continue to operate as normal in the Farmer’s Market facility, where 911 is housed now.

911 Board Officer Mark Carr
911 Board Officer Mark Carr

The same towers will be used for the new location, as the move will only be approximately a quarter-mile from the Farmer’s Market and are still in the line-of-sight with the same quality without being moved.

New renovations that will take place at the new facility will include a safe room/bunker for the dispatchers and a fenced in area. Although this purchase process is still in the works, the 911 Board was hoping to get the Commission’s blessing on this move. This subject got a little heated at the general session, when a vote was taken to approve the move, although this was not a unanimous vote.

Future home of Clay County E-911
Future home of Clay County E-911

Johnson stated he was not necessarily all for the move, but since it was already in the works, he did make the motion to authorize the move to the former Benefield Monument Company location. Wheeles concurred that he felt the same way, but did move to second. Burney wanted it put on record to state that the County Commission and would not be funding this move, as the 911.

Johnson inquired of Administrator Woods if this move would have any bearing on the monthly utility bill at the Farmer’s Market. Woods stated the county would miss the $500 in rent paid monthly by 911, but would make up for it in utilities.

Burney explained 911 and EMA were normally together in a centralized location, and wondered if there would be any lapse in emergency situations. Burney said EMA Director Daughtery would still be able to attend these meetings, as stated in the bylaws,which should suffice.

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Commissioner Watts was against this move and voted “No”. When asked by Burney to explain his reasoning behind his vote, Watts stated he would not elaborate at this time, but he would address the subject in due time. Watts did however, explain that 911 and EMA agencies should be together in a Central Dispatch in order to ensure citizen safety with prompt reporting of any ongoing emergency situation.

” I have other reasons I will address soon, but I’ve been behind the scenes for a long time and I don’t think this will flow right. I do my best to keep everyone informed with what’s going on from reporting downed trees and answering phones. I do whatever is needed at the time. This won’t work”, said Watts, “My other reasons will soon be made public.”

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The following items on the agenda were approved with some discussion at the general meeting.The agenda had to be amended to include the 911 Building move, due to confusion that the topic had already been discussed at the Planning session and no vote was needed. 

  • Approval of the 911 Building move was made, but was not an unanimous vote. Watts voted ” No”. See above discussion for more details.
  • Adopted a Resolution approving the purchase of a new Dump Truck. The 2016 model will replace the 2007 model that was destroyed in an accident over the summer. The cost of the new truck will be $136,000, exceeding the insurance limit paid by $56,000, which will be financed by First State Bank. 
  • Approval to award the Courthouse Roof bid to  Hinkle Roofing out of Birmingham, AL. Hinkle was the lowest bidder out of three, at a sum of $73,000 and proved to have a solid reputation. Hinkle also added a guarantee to replace any electronics in the event there ever any construction related damages. Even though this was approved, there was discussion brought to the table by Commissioner Watts with concerns of making certain this project was performed correctly to prevent future problems. Watts felt a representative of the county should perform daily evaluations onsite to ensure quality work. Watts and Milstead both said they would be checking in regularly, and possibly more would be there on a daily basis.
  • Approval to change the name of the Ashland Water Works & Sewer Board. The Charter name was The Water Works & Sewer Board of the town of Ashland and over the years had gotten shortened throughout the years. General Manager Brent Wheeler  said the name change was necessary to keep all the documents in an orderly fashion. The name will be now be known as the Ashland Water & Sewer Board.
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Ashland Water General Manager Brent Wheeler

The meeting was then adjourned. A work session will take place Tuesday, December 21.



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