Grants provide some relief for road repairs, but needs remain lengthy

Published 9:52 pm Monday, November 24, 2008

County Engineer Russell Oliver had some good news and some bad news to offer the Pike County Commission Monday night.

The good news: grants have been awarded to repair storm damage on several county roads. The bad news: There’s still plenty more work to be done.

The commission accepted grants to make erosion repairs and upgrade watershed protection after damage left behind from Tropical Storm Fay.

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The first grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service for $35,800 will fund erosion repairs to County Road 7752, Revel Road, new Clay Hill Church and the county road department parking lot.

The road department has to match 25 percent of the grant.

Another $8,815 grant was awarded from the Wiregrass Restoration Conservation Development Council to make similar repairs, Oliver said.

County Roads 6642, 4412 and 1128 will fall under that grant.

But, Oliver said the road department has a long way to go in repairing county roads, and unfortunately no spare change to do it.

Oliver presented a list of immediate road repair needs to the commission Monday night, the same list he has passed on to newly elected District 2 U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Alabama.

“The two immediate needs are faded traffic stripes and roads that need leveling,” Oliver said.

He did not give specific locations, but he said several roads are in need of immediate attention.

“We have many of each, and we just don’t have the funding to do it,” Oliver said.

Also in their meeting, commissioners approved an amendment for the county’s revenue office to reduce its budget, and they approved the closting of the courthouse on Christmas Eve.

In his report, County Administrator Harry Sanders told the commission eight county employees have agreed to accept the early retirement incentive.

He hasn’t determined how much money this will save the county, since he doesn’t know yet how many employees will have to be replaced.

For example, Sanders said one retiring employee in the revenue office will need to be replaced; the other in the commission office will not.

“In our case, we will try to operate with out that individual,” Sanders said.

“It’s not going to be easy, but we’re trying to save money. I feel like the commission office should lead by example.”

Other employees accepting retirement are two from the sheriff’s department, one from the jail and three from the county road department.