County hears Atmore resident request

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Escambia County Commission met Monday with an Atmore area resident on hand to request assistance in accessing his property.

Barry Nall asked commissioners to assist him in regaining use of Hill Street so that he could have access to his property that is otherwise landlocked.

“Prior to 2020, I had a prescriptive right-of-way that allowed the use of the road,” Nall told the commissioners. “I lost that privilege due to the property being sold and the new owner would not allow me to use the road like I had for the last 40 years.”

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In his statement, Nall indicated that the new owner of the property had initially allowed access but that had changed in the last year.

“The property was fenced off but there were gates that I had access to for a while,” Nall said. “A year ago at Thanksgiving, he (landowner) changed his mind and would not let me go through there. Now the gates are gone and it is completely fenced.”

County Attorney Thad Moore said Nall had not lost his privileges simply because someone new owned the property.

“If you had an easement before, you have it now,” Moore said. “I will get with the (landowner) and discuss a solution.”

Nall said that although he hasn’t lost the access legally, he would like to maintain a neighborly relationship with the owner.

Escambia County Probate Judge Doug Agerton also addressed the commissioners during Monday’s meeting to offer some insight on a request to raise certain fees through his office.

“On our fees, we want to be where other counties are that are our size,” Agerton said. “We need to catch up with other counties. By raising those fees, it will help us in some things that we want to do with some of the money we ask for back from you.”

Agerton said some areas of his office’s assets need work and the money raised through increased fees may help to ease the county’s financial burden.

“Some of our deed books need work,” Agerton said. “To redo a book can cost up to $00. If we increase some of our fees, we can bring in more money to do some of the work with on that. We certainly don’t want to gouge the people of the county and we’re not going to do that, but we do need to catch up with other counties. I request that we look at that and see about raising those fees.”

Commission Chairman Raymond Wiggins agreed with Agerton’s suggestion to raise fees.

“We have seen fees from other counties our size and this needs to be addressed, because we are lower than other counties,” Wiggins said. “We will submit this resolution to legislation to have our fees raised up to the suggested rates.”

Escambia County Sheriff Heath Jackson also addressed the commission with a request have fees put into place for fingerprinting through the county.

“Right now, we have a fingerprinting service that we offer for licenses, etc., to citizens,” Jackson said. “The fingerprinting upkeep includes maintenance and fees to keep the system going. We had some issues with the system and it’s going to take $15,000 to $30,000 to fix it. If we have the opportunity to add a fee to that service it would be a big help. We would not have a fee for incarcerated individuals or for a pistol permit for county citizens. We would like to have a cap on the fee at $50 for everyone else.”

Jackson said the fee arrangement would be a benefit to the county by putting most of the cost on those that use the service.

“This would take some of the burden off of those who don’t use that service,” Jackson said. “Fees for those who do, would allow us to move on our system.”

The commission agreed on a resolution supporting local legislation for issues presented by Agerton and Jackson for the Probate Office and Sherriff’s Office, respectively.

In other action, the commission heard from County Engineer Bill Bridges on the annual report of fund usages from the Rebuild Alabama program.

“We are required to make a report to show how we spent the Rebuild Alabam funds,” Bridges said. “This is for the fiscal year from October 2020 to September 2021.”

In the report, Bridges said three of the projects set to use the funds will be completed in fiscal year 2022 with work on Wing Road to be completed in the next month or so; Bearcreek Road should be completed in the spring; and work on Smithfield Road was completed in October, past the 2021 fiscal year end.

Bridges said work on Kirkland Road was completed at a cost of $373,000; Old Atmore road is 95 percent complete at a cost of $515,000 and Tulip Street is also 95 percent complete at a cost of $12,000.

The county was awarded a $250,000 grant for work on Old Highway 31, Bridges

“That work is completed,” Bridges said. “It did cost us more than that, but we used the grant funds for the project.”

In the final tally, Bridges said the county spent $1.15 million on road projects throughout the county.

In other business, the commission:

• approved posting a 10 mile-per-hour speed limit on Emmy Lane at the request of residents on the street. The dead-end road is in the area near Pollard-McCall Junior High School;

• discussed a policy presented by Jackson requesting that retirees of the department be given their badges, handgun/pistols and a retired identification upon retirement with 10 years of service with the department. The commission agreed to address the issue in an upcoming meeting of the group.