Dallas County Commission had an eventful 2019

Published 5:01 pm Friday, December 27, 2019

The Dallas County Commission had an eventful 2020, hearing several public comments, approving several resolutions and overseeing the completion of several public projects.

The year kicked off with Dallas County Probate Judge Jimmy Nunn taking the reigns as Commission Chairman from Kim Ballard who held the seat for 12 years.

In March, the commission voted to improve the Dallas County Sportsplex.

District 1 Dallas County Commissioner Roy Moore commended Richard Davis, who was responsible for restoring the complex’s baseball and softball fields.

“I’ve never seen someone work as hard as he does,” said Moore. “Every time I go out there he’s there and he’s working. Y’all just wouldn’t believe the amount of work that had to be done over there. The fields had just gotten terrible…It’s starting to look like a ball complex.”

Then-Interim Parks and Recreation Director Terry Jackson thanked the commission for their role in securing the improvements and stressed the Spotsplex’s importance to area youths.

“I really want to thank the county [commission] for getting us these improvements, “said Jackson. “It keeps [the kids] occupied. It gives them something to do. When [the kids] have something to do, it keeps them out of trouble and crime goes down.”

In April, the Dallas County Commission approved an ordinance imposing a half-percent additional sales tax in Dallas County for public schools.

The sales tax went into effect July 1, raising the tax from 9.5 percent to 10 percent.

District 1 Dallas County Commissioner Valerie Reubin and District 3 Dallas County Commissioner Curtis Williams approved the motion to pass the ordinance, while Moore and District 4 Dallas County Commissioner Larry Nickles opposed the measure.

“I think all of this has been gone about in the wrong way,” said Moore. “This is just a patch, not a repair…In a year or two we’re going to be right back here with the same problem.”

Nickles was in agreement with Moore, stating his belief that the tax wouldn’t help Dallas County Schools long term.

“If we pass this, this simple amount of money, will it change anything?” said Nickles.

Nunn proved to be the tie breaker in deciding the outcome of the proposed tax increase.

Nunn said that he spoke with both Selma City Schools and Dallas County Schools before the meeting and learned that if the ordinance was not approved then each school system would lose roughly $1 million dollars.

“That’s what we’re looking at,” said Nunn. “That’s a lot of money to be snatching away from the school system.”

After the ordinance was approved, Dallas County Schools Superintendent Hattie Shelton determined that Salem and Bruce K. Craig Elementary Schools would not have to be closed.

In July, the commission began to discuss problems at the overflowing landfill in Orrville located at the intersection of County Road 3 and County Road 33.

The commission’s discussions led to the erection of new aluminum signs bearing the rules, regulations and hours of operation of the landfill.

After the signs were placed, Dallas County Environmental Services Director Kevin Edwards continued to work toward making improvements at the landfill by searching for a company to install security cameras.

The cameras were placed in November and Edwards said he believes they’ll go a long way in deterring illegal dumping.

“I think simply having the cameras up will stop a lot of the illegal dumping,” Edwards said. “Just having them up is going to stop a lot of that.”

In September, the commission approved the budget for the 2020 fiscal year after a series of budget hearings.

The $21.5 million budget is comprised of $12.4 million in its general fund, $4.9 million for engineering and roads and $4.2 million remaining for other funds.

Some specific items included in the 2020 budget are a van for Camp Perry Varner Juvenile Detention Center, a truck for the mosquito control department, courthouse security, next year’s election expenses, two new sirens for Dallas County Emergency Management Agency and the new security cameras at the landfill in Orrville.

Nunn commended Dallas County Administrator Barbara Harrell on a job well done in serving the Dallas County Commission and also the citizens of Dallas County after her prominent role in the drafting of the budget.
Nunn also thanked the commission for their willingness to work together in order to agree on a budget.
“We were able to come together,” said Nunn. “Not everything was agreed upon, not every commissioner got what they wanted, every department didn’t get what they requested but we came together and we compromised and agreed that this would be the balanced budget.”

In October, Dallas County was awarded a $1.8 million grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).

The grant, totaling $1,816,895, will be used to realign and widen AL-41, add a turn lane on US-80W and add an acceleration lane on US-80 E at the intersection of AL- 41 and US-80.

In November, the Commission celebrated the completion of the relocation of County Road 205.

According to a report issued by Dallas County Engineer Coosa Jones, a road slide earlier in the year rendered 205 impassible except for one lane, one-way traffic.

As a result, emergency vehicles, school buses and postal services were unable to access County Road 205’s residents, which include children and the elderly.

To complete the project, Dallas County had to acquire a right-of-way to build a new, relocated section of County Road 205 that ties into the old road on both ends, providing access for residents and anyone else needing access to the road.

Nunn cited the completion of the project as an example of the commission’s ability to work together as one governmental body.

Later in November, the West Dallas Water Authority Board went before the commission to thank them for their assistance in receiving a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

The awarded funds are now being used to supply the people of the Bogue Chitto community with clean drinking water.

“We couldn’t have gotten that water without the approval of the [Dallas] County Commission,” said Shelly McGhee a resident of the Bogue Chitto Community. “I thank you for all of that with heart-felt gratitude on behalf of the Bogue Chitto Community.”

In October, all four of the commissioners announced they would seek re-election this March.

All four will be challenged by one or more candidate during the election to be held on March 3.

On Monday, the commission will conduct its final business of 2019 when it meets for a special called meeting at 4 p.m. to appoint a Dallas County Athletics Director.