County road project progress slowed again

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, November 11, 2015

By Stephanie Nelson

The Brewton Standard

A $500,000 donation by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for county road projects is again off the table – this time after commissioners failed to organize and submit a concise project list.

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Commission Chairman David Stokes Monday presented a letter by PCI land and natural resource committee chair Keith Martin asking the county to not spend the $500,000 allocated in 2015.

“We were pleased to provide (the county) with funding to assist with much needed road maintenance,” the letter stated. “Because these projects have not yet started at this late in the year and not all of the commissioners have submitted their requests, I request that you not spend these funds in 2015.”

The letter asked that the commission contact the Tribal Council to discuss a process and plan for completing the projects in 2016.

“(PCI) looks forward to continuing to work with the county for the betterment of the Tribe, Atmore, Escambia County and the surrounding communities,” the letter stated.

County Administrator Tony Sanks said all five commissioners submitted a list of projects; however, the costs for the projects well exceeded $500,000.

“Those lists exceeded the dollar amount available, and what Poarch asked for was a final project list that matched the dollar amount,” Sanks said.

Stokes and other commissioners said they were unsure why the Tribe changed its mind.

“I think we drug our feet here,” said Commissioner David Quarker. “I think PCI was sincere. Regardless of what happened, there is no excuse for us letting that money slip by us. We’re playing politics instead of trying to make progress.”

Commissioners tabled discussions on the projects and did not indicate when discussions would reopen.

The funding has been a source of contention among commission members for months. Allegations were made that the money was viewed as bribes tied to the impending PCI suit against the county tax assessor’s office over the taxation of Tribal property.

In other business, the commission:

• approved an off-premise beer and wine license transfer from The Pantry to Circle K located at the intersection of Ala. Hwy. 113 and I-65; and,

• ratified more than $3 million in oil and gas trust investments.