Local reporter and blogger, Garry Morgan spoke at the last Jackson County Commission work session and regular meeting held on July 22, 2019, concerning the results from a geotechnical engineering report conducted on the soil surrounding the Jackson County courthouse, which was built in 1911.

The report, executed by Amiri Engineering Corporation, a consulting firm out of Huntsville specializing in geotechnical and environmental engineering, recommends the building be monitored by maintenance personnel on an ongoing basis and weekly or monthly by a consultant until the building has been stabilized. The results state the northwest portion of ground around the courthouse is too soft and permeated with water to support the structure of the building. The soft ground is the main reason the outer layer of the courthouse has been dropping and pulling away from the rest of the structure, causing sinks and cracks in the interior. Another pressing concern is the incoming gas lines in that part of the building where the shifting and subsidence is occurring.
Roy Light, Scottsboro WSG General Manager stated WSG maintains an underground gas pipeline, meter and pressure regulator on the west side of the courthouse. WSG also conducts a leak survey twice a year on the service line, and once a year the meter is tested and calibrated by a third-party firm. All steel piping downstream of the natural gas meter and entering the building is owned and maintained by the Commission. Light stated, “Mr. Garry Morgan provided me a copy of his JCCH Structural Stability Summary and expressed his concerns about the building, as it related to the natural gas line. WSG inspected the natural gas facilities serving the courthouse after Mr. Morgan raised his concerns. Employees of WSG are not structural engineers, but we saw no obvious building defects that appeared to compromise the integrity of the natural gas facilities.”
In the event of equipment failure, WSG also maintains an isolation valve away from the building that could be used to prevent the flow of natural gas immediately adjacent to the courthouse. Light also stated they have no record of any calls from the Jackson County Commission seeking assistance, but WSG is happy to work with Chairman Guffey, members of the commission and their structural or geotechnical engineers should they request assistance from WSG.
Amiri Engineering also suspects storm water and sewer line failure. When the pipes were tested, red soil appeared in the drainage, indicating a collapsed line, which could cause ground loss under the footers of the courthouse on the northwest portion of the building. A subsurface exploration was recommended to rule out sinkholes or other collapses. Amiri continued with advising the county to test all sewer lines, underpin the collapsing part of the building using a contractor as soon as possible, and that immediate attention should be given for a structural engineer to come in and evaluate the integrity of the building.
Commission Chairman Tim Guffey stated contractors have been contacted per Amiri’s recommendation, and when those numbers arrive they will take the next steps.
Front-end loaders and containers were discussed as the county is implementing a contract with the Jackson County school system for garbage pick-up that, pending contract approval, will begin October 1st. The item was a preliminary step to allow a contract to be reviewed and discussed in the near future between the county and the school system, designating the county to provide garbage service using dump trucks, which have a better resale value, outfitted with front loaders and the purchase of the containers. The county will need to employ one driver and perform twice-weekly pickups. If all goes according to plan, two days will be dedicated to the schools, with the other three days being set aside for other accounts in the county.
This motion, pending approval of contract, and the motion to approve the contract were passed at the following regular meeting.
A resolution for roll-off franchise for garbage service in Jackson County was also presented by Guffey, who stated he just wanted to present it for the commissioners to study and become familiar with.
The commissioners discussed Sportsman’s Landing and how best they could utilize the land for campers and outdoors enthusiasts. The city of Scottsboro has expressed interest in leasing the property from the county, repairing and maintaining the facilities and land, with the main interest being the boat ramp and parking lot. The county is entertaining possibilities of retaining portions of the landing for campsites and/or forming a partnership with the city.
After discussing with Scottsboro Mayor Robin Shelton, this issue will be brought back to the table at the next work session.
The holidays were discussed, with November 21 and 22 being set aside for the Thanksgiving holiday and December 24 and 25 for Christmas. New Year’s was also discussed, with the commissioners deciding to monitor weather forecasts and the event Alabama Governor Kay Ivey declares more vacation days set aside in observance. This was discussed during the work session and ruled all in favor during the following regular meeting.
Dump-site cameras have arrived, and after the signs are made and posted, the cameras will be installed, allowing law enforcement to identify and prosecute people doing illegal dumping.
The motion to accept the hiring committee’s recommendation for Christopher Murphy, Kristen Chasteen, Timothy Holcomb, Edward Fowler and William Pellam for the temporary laborer positions for the Public Works Department were passed. Recommendations of Jimmy Manor for the vacant HMT 1 (Grade 4) position and Shelly Bradford for the vacant Clerk II (Grade 5) position for the Sanitation Department were also passed.

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