The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 22, 2013

County Commission delays tree removal decision

By Kim West

— The Limestone County Commission voted to delay accepting a price quote from an Athens tree removal service to eliminate a pair of courthouse trees during its regular meeting Tuesday morning at the Clinton Street annex.

An agenda item to accept a $4,400 quote from Adams & Son to remove two deteriorating Atlas cedar trees on the east and west sides of the county courthouse was postponed because of the possible impact of having a bucket truck at the site.

Two other Athens companies also submitted price quotes to remove the cedars, which the commission has deemed as dangerous and a possible liability due to dropping limbs. Dixieland Tree Service gave a $5,050 removal estimate, and James Paul’s Tree Service priced the project at $5,500.

Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee said two of the three companies — Adams & Son and James Paul’s — planned to use a truck that might impact the sodden courthouse lawn. He said it was his understanding that Dixieland proposed using a tree-climber to remove the trees rather than using a bucket truck.

“Two of them wanted to put big trucks at the courthouse, and I’m concerned about that,” Menefee said following the meeting. “Since this is a quote, it’s not necessary to take the cheapest (estimate) compared to accepting a low bid.

“You can back up to the tree on the west side but the east side of the courthouse has a high bank on that side, and (a truck) would have to get on the ground. The courthouse grass is soggy right now, so we’re going to go back and look at all of the quotes again.”

Robert Norman of Dixieland Tree Service said his quote included a $1,000 cost to put the trees on the ground, and his business could use a tree-climber to avoid using a bucket truck.

“My cousin is a tree-climber, and we would use him to remove the trees to keep from having to build a road to get the equipment in there,” Norman said.

Safe rooms

The commission accepted two hazard mitigation grants for two community safe rooms and approved a contract to construct a pair of additional safe rooms.

The federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, or HMGP, is administered by the state Emergency Management Agency and provides grants to ease the effects of a natural disaster. HMGP was created to reduce the loss of life and property when a major disaster has been declared.

These measures include community safe rooms, retrofitting structures to decrease damages from natural disasters, elevating flood-prone homes and developing vegetative management programs.

A community safe room at 29910 Park Avenue in Ardmore will be funded by a $270,213 HMGP grant. The county share of the project is $67,553, which will be provided by the town of Ardmore.

A $211,531 grant is slated for a safe room at the Owens Volunteer Fire Department on Glaze Road with a county match of $52,883.

Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood Inc. will provide architectural services for additional community safe rooms at the Elkmont Volunteer Fire Department on Sandlin Road and Cowford-Oak Grove Fire Station on Grover Drive. The commission approved the contract, which will replace a previous proposal signed on Sept. 17, 2012.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to partially fund two Council of Aging vans received through a $89,275 grant, with a county match of $17,855;

• Accepted a one-time $250 medical reimbursement for current county employees, retirees and elected officials;

• Amended a services contract for Myra Peck to serve as an administrative assistant with the Limestone County Community Corrections Program with annual compensation of $23,000, reimbursement of work-related expenses and a county holiday schedule;

• Appointed Menefee to the Association of Tennessee Valley Governments. The ATVG represents Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia and advocates for the Tennessee Valley Authority and local governments;

• Re-appointed Mike Nave to the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area Steering Committee for a three-year term retroactive to Jan. 1;

• Re-appointed Menefee and District 1 Commissioner Gary Daly to the Solid Waste Authority Board for three-year terms;

• Awarded printing bids of $736.89 to Currie Systems for the probate judge and $355 to Printers & Stationers Inc. for Sheriff’s Office pistol permits;

• Approved family medical leaves for Sharon Cockrell from Feb. 1 to Feb. 15 and Jonathan Hinton from Feb. 14 to April 8;

• Revised the District 3 staffing plan to remove a mechanic position and add an equipment operator III;

• Granted merit increases to Patricia Andrews, Kayla Long Holt, Cody Lewter, Sheila Long, Maria Maples, Donna Mattox, Johnny Smith, Laura Then and Andrew Vickers Jr.; and

• Agreed to sell a 2005 Dodge Limestone County Animal Control truck on GovDeals and placed a 2004 Ford Explorer into the District 4 fleet after the GovDeals buyer defaulted.

The commission will hold a work session at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Washington Street annex and a regular meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4, at the Clinton Street annex.