County secures grant to buy bullet proof vests
By By JOHN WALLACE
Bulletproof vests soon will be issued to more officers at the Escambia County Sheriff's Department.
At Tuesday's Escambia County Commission meeting, Chairman Larry White read a letter from U.S. Congressman Sonny Callahan regarding the approved grant request for the county by the Department of Justice.
In the letter, it states that the county sheriff's department will receive $3,758 for the purchase of bulletproof vests.
Sheriff Tim A. Hawsey said the grant calls for 50 percent match funding. He also said his department has selected the vests they wish to purchase and they have been approved.
Jim Hildreth from the Escambia County Tax Assessor's Office addressed the commissioners regarding a proposal to enter into a contract with Tax Management Associates to assist the county with the audits of businesses as required by state law.
Hildreth said his office is required to audit personal property accounts of each business within a four-year period. He said some businesses are difficult for his office to audit because of the size of their operation. He recommending entering into a contract with Tax Management Associates and said the state has also recommended it to the county. The cost of the contract is approximately $25,000 and was approved by the county commissioners.
The commissioners also voted to approve the appointment of County Administrator Tony Sanks, Jimmy Yoder from the Road Department, Vivian Thomas from the Reappraisal Department and Sue Beasley from RSVP to a committee to review long-term care proposals that have been submitted.
A bid of $421,435 submitted by Cardinal Contractors was also approved at the meeting for sewer system work in Atmore. Funding for the project has been obtained via a Community Development Block Grant.
Escambia County Engineer John Downing reported to the commission that Cowpen Creek Road has been closed because a bridge is out. He said a used part could be used to fix the bridge and hopes to have the repair made this week.
Another road, Askew Lane in Atmore, was the topic of discussion at the meeting. Rev. Harold Askew said the road is in bad condition and asked the county to help maintain the road that has holes large enough to bury a car.
An application for funding from the Alabama Department of Transportation for the ECATS program was also approved at the meeting.
The commissioners also set a public hearing for Wednesday, June 20 at 5 p.m. in the Escambia County Commissioners boardroom regarding proposed airport height zoning regulations.
The 21st Judicial Circuit Drug task Force was also discussed at the meeting. The Task Force received praise from ADECA's James Fry after a recent visit. He reported to the commissioners via a letter that the Task Force is operating in compliance with standards set by the grant application which helps fund the special unit.
A letter from the Alabama State Employees Credit Union was also read at the meeting. The letter informed the commissioners and county employees in the retirement system that they may now join the credit union.
In other business the commissioners heard an update from Ruth Harrell regarding the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County.
She reported that the Ozanam Charitable Pharmacy is progressing and should be in operation in the near future with a training session set for June 11.
Harrell said the Coalition's work on the Children's Policy Council is also ongoing and an assessment was scheduled for this week to set the three main priorities for the program. Once the priorities are identified, the group plans on seeking grants to address those concerns.
The Coalition is also working with area schools and has made plans to hold what Harrell called "a state-of-the-art think tank" on July 21 with education and government officials from the state, county and cities within Escambia County. The meeting is slated to begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Flomaton High School auditorium. The goal of the "think tank" is to "open dialogue."
Another program aimed at helping teenagers, Building Leadership for a Healthy Tomorrow, recently lost funding due to the termination of a grant. The Coalition is looking for a way to keep the program going. The Coalition's next meeting is slated for June 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital in Brewton.
The commission meeting was postponed from Monday due to Memorial Day.