Marengo County Commission declares Bookmobile surplus property

Courthouse security and the fate of the County’s Bookmobile concerned the Marengo County Commission at its meeting Tuesday.

“I’m laying all this in your lap,” said librarian Joyce Morgan.

She presented a $6,533 bid to repair the 22-year-old Bookmobile, but she said the effort and expense to continue operating the vehicle may not be worth the effort. She estimated a new Bookmobile would be about $140,000, and any grant she received would only cover half the cost.

The Bookmobile serves an average of 10 clients each day, “a big drop” from years ago, said Morgan. Two part-time employees recently retired, leaving Morgan and one other person to man both the library in Linden and the Bookmobile. Any new hire must be trained for both driving and library operations.

“The Bookmobile is a convenience. I hate to do completely away with it,” she said, and added that she would like to see a small van adapted to make stops at nursing homes.

At the motion of Freddie Armstead, commissioners voted to declare the Bookmobile surplus property. Morgan will pursue purchasing a surplus van at state auction.

Off-duty officers from Demopolis and Linden serve as security guards at the entrance to the courthouse. Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese and Linden Police Chief Scott McClure said their officers have expressed concern that they have no one to relieve them for a lunch break during their nine-hour shift.

“We want to continue,” said Reese, “but nine hours is a long time without a break.”

Sheriff Richard Bates said courtrooms also need to have security, but guards cannot leave the entrance to cover any problems in the rest of the building.

Commissioners made several suggestions, such as splitting shifts or using retired officers who continue their certification.

“Whatever it takes, we’re going to do it,” said Commission chairman Dan England.

The two police chiefs will work with their officers on possible solutions and report back to the Commission in March.

After the executive session, commissioners voted to approve a three-step pay raise for one employee and two-step pay raises for five other employees of the Board of Revenue.

Revenue Commissioner Sharon Barkley requested the raises after one of the office employees left and the others are picking up her duties.

Even with the raises, the change will save the county $29,000 each fiscal year.

In other business, the commission voted to appoint Linda Yelverton to the county Economic Development Authority from District 5; appoint Inez Craig to the South Marengo Water Authority Board, and approve the relocation of the Thomaston voting site for the March 1 election.