County to build shelters in Thomaston

Freddie Armstead, left, accepts the gavel from Michael Thompson.

Freddie Armstead, left, accepts the gavel from Michael Thompson.

After Freddie Armstead accepted the gavel as the new chairman of the Marengo County Commission Tuesday morning, commissioners voted to transfer a grant to build community safe rooms to the town of Thomaston

County EMA Director Kevin McKinney said the deadline for building the five shelters is October, but the cost is well over a quarter million dollars, and there is at least a six-month turnaround before the county would be reimbursed.

Commissioners were reluctant to commit the funds since they are facing major expenses to replace the heating and cooling system in the courthouse.

Thomaston Mayor Jeff Laduron approached McKinney offering to assume the loan in order for the town to build a storm shelter that would double as a civic center. McKinney said the county could reapply for funds to build the other four shelters when the grant cycle reopens.

Under the proposal, the county would serve as the grantee and Thomaston would pay for the building as a funding source.

Architect Butch Grimes, at the invitation of Commissioner Dan England, presented a proposal to analyze the courthouse for ways to save money on electrical and climate systems.

Grimes, whose Tuscaloosa firm is facilitating the geothermal system being installed at Demopolis High School, said the 20-year-old units at the courthouse are not efficient.

“I’d hate to pay your light bill,” he said.

If the county agrees to Grimes’ proposal, his fee to analyze the system would be returned to the county.

Grimes added that EDA Director Brenda Tuck is looking into upgrading the systems at the old armory building, now serving the EDA and the county Extension offices. Work on both buildings could be bid to the same contractor for a cost savings.

The commission passed a resolution to display a plaque in its chambers with the motto “In God We Trust.”

The resolution originated with Merceria Ludgood, chairman of the Mobile County Commission and president of the Association of County Commissions in Alabama.

In other action the commission approved:

  • A three-year contract with Revenue Discovery Systems to collect county sales tax.
  • Expenditures for the “Coffee @ the Courthouse” with elected officials on Feb. 5.
  • Hiring John Lankster to the jail staff.
  • Awarding the bid for a certificate of deposit to Sweet Water State Bank.

Armstead reminded commissioners of the open house Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m. to show off the new headquarters of the EDA and Extension offices.