The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 7, 2013

County Commission alters staffing plan

By Kim West

— The Limestone County Commission voted 3-0 to amend the county staffing plan at its regular meeting Monday morning at the Clinton Street annex.

The commissioners — Gary Daly, Bill Latimer and Steve Turner — agreed to remove a district clerk, grade 6, from District 2 and add an equipment operator II, to District 2. Commissioner Ben Harrison was not in attendance due to out-of-town business.

The district clerk job description was approved by a unanimous vote at the Nov. 5, 2012, regular meeting, which was the last official meeting of retiring District 2 Commissioner Gerald Barksdale. The position was posted but never filled by Turner, who took office in November.

After the meeting Monday, Turner said the district clerk position was removed because he believed the commission would not approve filling the post.

“I was told it would not be approved, and I’m not going to bring something to be voted on if I already know it won’t be approved,” Turner said. “This was not something the other commissioners were interested in, but this could be brought up again if needed.”

Each of the four districts has a district foreman and at least seven equipment operators but none has a clerical position. Turner had envisioned using a district clerk to monitor calls and track daily activities while freeing up the foreman to spend more time on operational tasks in the district.

Stretching security

Daly announced during the meeting that the commission is working on a resolution to allow the hiring of retired law-enforcement officers that have received proper certification to serve as part-time school resource officers.

Currently there are seven SROs assigned to the six high schools and the Limestone Career Technical Center in the Limestone County school system. The full-time officers are provided by the Sheriff’s Office and funded equally by the county and the school system.

Daly said he has met with Superintendent Dr. Tom Sisk and is awaiting further instruction from Sisk and the school board, which meets at 6 p.m. today.

The part-time officers could be used to supplement the full-time officers, Daly said, and some of the full-time SROs could be rotated back into patrol duties with the Sheriff’s Office.

“If you hire someone who is a retired officer, you could probably take the money we already have and hire several more at a contract rate,” Daly said. “We’re going to let the superintendent and school board tell us how to do it — we’re trying to be flexible to help them get more (SROs).”

Daly said retired officers would also provide additional experience in working with students.

“… Most of those retired officers have grandchildren in the schools, and they wouldn’t be run over and snookered because they know all the tricks and games,” Daly said. “Hopefully we get enough officers to have one in every school but even if we don’t, we want to be able to rotate enough to have the element of surprise.”

In other business, the commission:

• Appropriated up to $12,500 in matching funds to the city of Athens for construction of a preliminary access road into the Killen property north of the Elm Street Industrial Park;

• Hired Justin Brown as an equipment operator II in the paving crew under the direction of County Engineer Richard Sanders; and

• Awarded a three-month contract to low bidder W.H. Thomas Oil Company of Decatur at 17 cents over the rack rate — which is lower than the retail rate — for gas and diesel. The rack rate is derived from adding the cost of fuel transportation, overhead and profit to the fuel market price.

The commission will hold a work session at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Washington Street annex and a regular meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at the Clinton Street annex.