The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

November 15, 2012

New county commissioners welcomed

By Kim West

— The Limestone County Commission met Wednesday morning at the Washington Street annex for an organizational meeting and work session as a pair of rookie commissioners received a warm welcome to kick off their six-year terms.

New commissioners Steve “Ned” Turner of District 2 and Ben Harrison of District 4 join District 1 Commissioner Gary Daly, District 3 Commissioner Bill Latimer and Chairman Stanley Menefee.

“I’m glad to have you here, and I’m anxious to get going,” said Menefee, who has served 16 years as either a commissioner or chairman.

Latimer and Daly also offered their guidance and support as Turner takes over for Gerald Barksdale, who retired last week, and Harrison replaces Bill Daws, whose re-election bid fell short last Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward to working with these fellows, and I think they are two reasonable men,” said Latimer, a three-term commissioner who has served since 1998. “If you need help out of me or have any questions I can answer, I’m happy to do that.”

Both Harrison and Turner expressed their appreciation and willingness to learn. Their first regular commission meeting is at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at the Clinton Street annex.

“I just want to express my appreciation, and I’m looking forward to working with everyone,” Harrison said. “Everyone has been very cooperative and answered my questions, and I’m sure I will have a thousand more questions to ask.”

During the organizational meeting, the commission adopted the rules of procedure and the meeting schedule.

At the meeting Monday, the commission will consider re-appointing John Morris and appointing John Curtis to the Athens-Limestone Hospital board for five-year terms beginning Jan.1, 2013.

Also up for consideration is the employment of a corrections officer; a lieutenant to replace newly-elected Circuit Court Clerk Brad Curnutt and at least one deputy for the Limestone County Sheriff’s Department; and an indefinite family medical leave for Christie Partridge retroactive to Nov. 5.

Partridge’s request is to allow her to stay with her son, who was seriously injured in a four-wheeler accident, according to Turner.

Turner said District 2 has recently changed its staffing plan by eliminating one of two foreman positions, a mechanic/operator 2 and a mechanic/operator 3.

The job description for a district clerk, grade 6, was approved during the Nov. 5 regular commission meeting, and the job will be posted by the end of November and filled by the end of this year. The clerk’s duties will include monitoring calls and tracking daily activities in the district.

“If it’s major work, we’re going to take it back to the maker. We’re going to limit our mechanics’ work to oil changes and basic repairs, just minor mechanical work from now on,” Turner said. “(Adding a clerk) will free up the foreman at the tool shed to be able to go out and be more in a supervisory mode.”

He said the clerk will be assigned to District 2, but could be used to assist in the other three districts if a commissioner was out of town for a meeting.

“I know I’m going to face some criticism over this, but I think if people just bear with me about this, it’s going to improve our overall operations,” Turner said.