Tower debate continues

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Selma Times Journal

Following Monday afternoon’s Dallas County Commission meeting, Probate Judge Johnny Jones responded to statements made by Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. during a May 19 press conference.

Perkins said he is convinced county officials have handled the installation of a 120-ft communications tower at the county courthouse “all wrong,” using lawyers, an armed sheriff and deputies to intimidate city building inspector Finis Harris.

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As far as Jones is concerned, county officials handled the situation correctly, citing the cordial exchange between city and county officials when the tower was constructed earlier this month. The last person to leave the construction site that day, Jones said everyone “was very professional and there was no confrontation.”

Jones also questioned why Perkins believes county officials had anything to do with the suspicious activity that took place at the mayor’s home last week. A white male identified as Steve Cameron was spotted taking pictures of Perkins’ First Avenue home.

“The (county government) wouldn’t do this,” Jones said. “To accuse the government of this is ludicrous.”

Jones said county officials will let the tower dispute run its course in court. As Jones has stated before, the tower is a win-win for Selma and Dallas County.

“The only bias we have is a bias toward the safety and protection to the citizens of this county,” he said.

In other business:

Commissioner Kim Ballard said he is awaiting a final quote from a contractor for the construction of a county juvenile detention center. Currently, Dallas County is paying Hale County $150,000 to house juvenile inmates, placing a burden on the sheriff’s department to transport youth offenders. When Hale County’s juvenile detention center overflowed, District Judge Bob Armstrong sent the juveniles to Mobile.

Ballard said the construction of juvenile detention center would ensure a better system for law enforcement and court officials. A work session is scheduled to discuss the center’s cost.

The commission unanimously approved a request made by attorney Wesley Kelly to veto a restrictive code on two lots of county property that will be used to construct a Holiday Inn Express. The property, located at Lincoln Place, was to be used for commercial office purposes only. Holiday Inn Express will be located near the Hampton Inn off Highland Avenue. Kelly said the owners of the Hampton Inn will own Holiday Inn as well.

The commission unanimously approved state legislation to increase poll workers pay by $15 per person.

The commission unanimously approved to repair the main boiler at the county jail. Ballard is afraid the boiler has “gasped its last breath.”

The boiler provided the only source of hot water for inmate showers. A new boiler will cost the county $21,557. A contractor told Ballard there is no assurance the boiler can be repaired.

The commission approved 15 locations for the county’s summer feeding program.

The commission approved to extend the membership of two county representatives to the library board.

County Homeland Security/EMA Director Brett Howard updated the commission on bids for a community severe weather shelter in the Tipton area. Safety Shelter is the only company that has presented a bid. The company offered two bids – a shelter without bathrooms will cost $100,883, a shelter with bathrooms will cost $106,883. Both figures are within the guidelines of grant provided by FEMA, Howard said. The commission approved the bids.

Judge Jones corrected an error regarding the listing of the Dallas County Sheriff candidates on the June 6 primary election ballot. The candidate’s names are now listed in alphabetical order.

“As soon as we discovered the error, we corrected it immediately,” Jones said. “All ballots are correct as well as we know.”