The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 7, 2013

County approves new library's first phase

By Kim West

— During Monday’s meeting, the Limestone County Commission approved the first phase of contracts for the new Athens-Limestone Public library under construction in the shuttered Kroger’s building on South Jefferson Street.

The $2.4 million first phase includes work to the exterior shell and façade of the 38,427-square-foot building, roof and sprinkler system. Work is scheduled to begin by June 1 and be finished in December.

The interior second phase is scheduled to begin as soon as the first phase is complete. It could take up to six months to complete, according to Kerrick Whisenant, of project construction manager Limestone Building Group.

The Athens City Council approved the contracts during its April 29 meeting. Mayor Ronnie Marks attended Wednesday’s May 1 commission work session to update the county about the library project.

The library is receiving joint funding from the city and county, with each entity contributing $1.1 million in property and cash to the project, Marks said. He said all bid packages are coming through the city and county.

He said the first phase was projected to cost between $2.8 and $2.9 million, but bids came in at $2.4 million. He said through the end of March, LBG has been paid $90,000, and project architect CMH Architects has been paid $126,800.

The Library Foundation, which met a $1 million Dekko Foundation challenge grant in 2012, is continuing to raise money to go toward operating capital for the new library and the interior design, which has not been finalized and could be expanded with additional funding.

Debbie Joyner, a consultant hired by the foundation in July 2011 to ramp up fundraising efforts, confirmed more than $6 million has been raised through donations and pledges.

Updating regulations

Also during Monday’s meeting, the commission unanimously approved a resolution that allows animal control officers  “to carry a firearm with proper permit and authorization,” but “they must comply with all state and local laws pertaining to the carry of a firearm.”

This means the county’s two animal control officers will not be allowed to openly carry a personal firearm unless they are responding to animal calls.

The resolution also requires an animal control officer carrying a handgun to “satisfactorily complete” range and shooting training provided by the Sheriff’s Department.

One of the county’s animal control officers does not carry a personal firearm while on duty. Both officers, who are continually on-call, can use bite sticks and pepper spray.

Animal control officer Joe Moss, a military veteran and an honorary sheriff’s deputy who is supervised by the commission rather than the Sheriff’s Department, spoke to the commission during Wednesday’s work session.

Moss, who said he is range-certified, asked for permission to continue to carry his .45 automatic pistol in his hip holster.

Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee asked Moss, who has a concealed weapon permit, to conceal his firearm when not responding to animal calls for his own well-being and to prevent possible liability to the county.