County Commission

A lease agreement between a nonprofit dentistry office and the Limestone County Commission could be renewed next week, though at least one commissioner isn't a fan of the proposal.

In November, the commission voted unanimously on a proposal to terminate Sarrell Dental & Eye Care's lease and provide notice for the business to vacate the building at 310 W. Elm St., Athens. The commission voted 10 years ago to lease the building, which is the former health department, to Sarrell at a cost of $1 per year.

Since the vote, Sarrell and the commission agreed on a new lease that will allow the business to continue to serve underprivileged children. Under the agreement before the commission, Sarrell would pay $3,000 per month over five years. Chairman Collin Daly said there's also an option to renew the lease an additional two years.

“They're going to assume all responsibility for the building,” he said. “The only thing the county is responsible for is the roof.”

Daly told commissioners the building recently had a new roof installed.

“We should have zero cost for the next five years,” he said.

District 4 Commissioner Ben Harrison questioned why the county was pursuing a new lease agreement as opposed to selling the building to Sarrell. He asked if that option was presented to Sarrell, and Daly said the business wanted a lease agreement.

“I just don't want us in the rental business,” Harrison said.

District 3 Commissioner Jason Black said he was pleased with the new agreement. He explained at least with the new lease, the county is getting something back.

“I'm happy they provide the service they provide, but it can't be at our cost,” he said.

Under the proposed lease agreement, the county stands to collect $180,000 in rent over five years from Sarrell. Daly said those funds could be used to build a new engineering hub at the former L&S shopping center site on Jefferson Street.

The commission has been looking at the issue of where to move the engineering department for some time. The current facility on Cherry Street isn't big enough to accommodate all the department's equipment. The L&S site will also contain a heated asphalt tank, which commissioners said should allow them to make road repairs faster and at a lower price.

District 1 Commissioner Daryl Sammet said his employees cleaned up the L&S site last week, which included removing debris and trees. County Engineer Marc Massey planned to shoot a grade on the site as early as today.

The County Commission voted to purchase the former L&S property for $525,000 in 2012.

Commissioners' reports

• District 1: Sammet and the other commissioners said they were dealing with the effects of heavy rains on the roads and shoulders. They each reported washouts, clogged drains and potholes. Harrison said the rains have prevented him from performing scheduled road maintenance;

• District 2: Steve Turner said beginning today, crews would be replacing a crossdrain on Newby Road between U.S. 72 and Gray Road. He said the work would impact travel for those traveling north to U.S. 72, but added the work could be finished by later today. He said crews would come back Friday and put asphalt over the loose rock;

• District 3: Black said an engineering group performed patching work on Shaw Road ahead of some resurfacing work planned for the spring;

• District 4: Harrison said he's trying to stop heavy trucks from using Romine Road as a cut-through from Flanagan to Upper Snake roads. He plans to work with Google and Waze so their map programs will deter truckers from using Romine Road. He explained he also plans to replace a culvert on Romine Road and widen the elevated portion.

The commission will meet 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Clinton Street annex. The commission would normally meet Monday, but county offices will be closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

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