County road paving proposal fails again

Published 11:04 pm Monday, December 12, 2011

Pike County Commissioners voted again Monday on a proposal to pave the Pleasant Hill Church Road, and for a second time the commission deadlocked in a tie.

The road paving was one of several hot-button topics on the commission agenda, including a contract for county ambulance service and flaws in the redistricting of county lines.

At the last county meeting, the commissioners discussed paving one mile of Pleasant Hill Church Road with a cost estimate for contract work and out-of-pocket expenses being $150,000. The commission vote was a tie – three yeses and three nos.

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Monday night, a new number was brought to the commission. County Engineer Russell Oliver said the total cost for the project, including in kind work by the county, would be $383,000.

“Our employees are going to be working anyway,” Commissioner Ray Goodson said, adding that where they were working didn’t matter.

Even though Commissioner Charlie Harris backed up that sentiment, the whole commission didn’t feel the same way.

“We’re gong to be giving up all our men and all our equipment to pave a road with a church on it,” said Commissioner Oren Fannin.

A group of county residents who’d been lobbying heavily to see the road paved groaned in unison as Fannin told them they needed to be “realistic.”

Harris made a motion that the commission allot $160,000 to the pavement project to “see how far that will pave that road.”

Goodson, Harris and Commissioner Homer Wright voted for the funding. Fannin, Commissioner Jimmy Barron and Commission Robin Sullivan voted against providing money for the project.

In another funding decision, the final say in which ambulance company will be awarded a contract to provide services to Pike County now rests with Troy’s City Council.

Pike County E911 Director Chris Dozier spoke before the commission and said he recommended a continued contract with Care, citing pledged response times stated in the companies’ bids.

“Pretty much across-the-board, Care had better response times,” Dozier said, mentioning that Haynes pledged to arrive at urban locations two minutes after Care, at rural locations two minutes after Care and at “super rural” locations five minutes later than Care. Those promised response times would be accurate for 90 percent of ambulance runs.

Dozier also recommended a reporting system be put into place for the company awarded the contract to ensure accountability and consistency of response times.

The commission voted to defer the pick to Troy’s City Council, but the decision will have to be made Tuesday night. The current contract with Care expires Dec. 13 at midnight.

The commission voted to adjourn their meeting and reconvene at the Alabama State House on Friday morning to discuss redistricting issues.

“I would like to say this, ‘I told you so that the district lines were wrong and this commission went ahead and voted,’ ” Harris said. “The commission just didn’t care about District 5.”

The Pike County Board of Education and the commission were recently made aware that there were errors in the Census data used when redrawing district lines. Both groups will meet together on Friday at 8:30 a.m. to work out issues.

The plan must be finalized by early January due to elections next year.