Commissioners tackle Election Center challenges

With the historic courthouse reconstruction completed and the historical jail set to open at the end of March, the Court turned its attention to the proposed Election Center to be constructed a block south of the courthouse square and unanticipated drainage problems the site poses. Without extensive site preparation work, water will flood adjacent and nearby properties whenever it rains, said County Judge Jan Roe. The solution is either do the work to divert the water or build on another site. The court agreed that using another site was not an option. Any other site would be too far away from the courthouse square and other county offices need the use of the conference room the Election Center will provide. Fortunately, said Roe, construction savings reflected in courthouse construction accounts should pay for the additional site work leaving total construction costs within budget.
Roe reported that, by Saturday, February 22, 964 people had already voted in the 2014 primary elections for county offices.
Dealing with more routine business, the County approved Sheriff Gerald Yezak’s Annual Racial Profiling and Jail Activity Report, and approved Commissioner Keith Petitt’s request to access private property on Hunter Rd. to correct some drainage and erosion issues. The land owner is giving the County an additional five feet of easement space to widen the road and correct the problems, Petitt said. Roe requested that Petitt ask the landowner to deed it over, and Assistant County Attorney Robert Yezak agreed that the county needed something in writing. That should not be a problem, Petitt said, and the court allowed him to proceed while securing the paperwork.
The Court approved construction of a pipeline beneath Warren Rd. and also allowed Commissioner Donald Threadgill to proceed with plans to build a bridge over a low water crossing. Roe said that the first step would be to secure permission from each landowners to access their property, then return to the court to receive County permission to access private property. Access would be limited, said Threadgill, since easements are wider than usual on Warren Rd.
The panel also gave Commissioner Robert Bielamowicz, Pct. 4, permission to purchase a new chipper since his old one costs more to repair than it’s worth. A trade-in of $3,000 plus money from the sale of unneeded property; a little over $9,000, will help off-set the $29,068 expenditure to purchase the chipper, explained Bielamowicz.
County Court approved its FEMA-required Robertson County Hazard Mitigation Plan which gives a County plan of action to be utilized in the case of nature disasters. Said Emergency Management Coordinator Billy Huggins, having a Mitigation Plan makes the County eligible for federal funds in case of a natural disaster.
After agreeing that the County had to use the current proposed site to the build the Election Center, commissioners agreed to do the site work. Estimates indicate it will cost over $105,000 to build a retaining wall, parking lot, sidewalks and gutters, and level and provide fill where needed. Site work will have to be done no matter what the County does with the two lots, said Roe. The First Baptist Church in Franklin, owner of the lot the Election Office currently sits on, needs its space back. Roe urged that all plans be completed and presented to the court by March 24th so work can begin promptly.
Courthouse Construction Manager Jim Hanks reported that work was continuing on modifications to the Courthouse Annex basement and second floor to allow law enforcement entities to move. Commissioners approved a revised contract with David Bailey to complete Annex renovations and authorized the first payment for those modifications.
The court approved an agreement with County Information Resources Agency Services for the County website and email accounts and agreed to consider a request for $1,500 to add the name of a Robertson County veteran who died in the Vietnam War to a memorial honoring the Viet Nam dead. The Commissioners will consider the request after researching County Vietnam veterans.
The Commissioners extended the County’s lease of space for its Adult Probation Department for 15 days. Roe said that, even though the historic jail will probably be ready by the end of March, all law enforcement entities moving into the historic jail on the same day or weekend probably would not work.
The Court approved some budget adjustments and an invoice listing of $139,073.66. In final action, it agreed to go out for bids for CRS2 and RC250’s.

Melissa Freeman / Robertson County News

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