Jackson County Commission Chairman Bill Nance was available to catch readers up on some of the things the Commission has been doing for the county.
“Once again, thank you for the opportunity to be here and to share the status of some of the activities we have going on in Jackson County,” stated Nance. “The first thing I want to address is our roads.”
Nance stated that Jackson County has 1,100 miles of local roads and that most of the daily calls he and the commissioners receive, are about the roads. The prolonged freezing temperatures this past December also did not help matters as far as the county’s roads are concerned.
“On December 27th, the Jackson County Commission approved our 2023 Roads Program,” Nance stated. “Coupled with the work we had previously done with our Rebuild Alabama program, this year we will be able to pave 29 miles of county roads, including 20 miles allocated with our district commissioners, with each district getting five miles.”
According to Nance, each commissioner spent about 30 days driving the roads of their districts, taking notes on which ones needed immediate work. District I roads selected for this year’s program include, County Roads 170, 459, 476, 356, 159 and 104. District II roads selected are, County Roads 107 and 21. District III roads are, County Roads 156 , 366 and Lake Boulevard. District IV roads are County Road 3, 303 and 142.
Nance also stated that in addition, other roads selected previously from Rebuild Alabama funds include County Roads 67, 8 and 33 from Highway 72 to the railroad track. Another is County Road 74 from the state line for about a mile and half .
“We’re glad to be able to get 29 miles, but to be candid, 29 miles a year is not enough. If we’re going to be able to keep pace to be able to service 1,100 miles of roads – in fact, at that rate per year, it will take us about 37 years to service all the roads in Jackson County.”
Nance continued, “The Commission has begun working to identify ways we can accelerate funding and some of the areas we get funding from, so we can accelerate in the near term, the next couple of years, the ability to service more roads. We will work on that, and we certainly hope we’re able to do that.”
Nance stated that in addition to their 2023 program, they have authorized the Public Works Department to send out three to four crews per day to work on patching potholes in the county. Overtime has also been authorized for those crews. As it stands, there are near to 250 roads on the patching list.
“This is going to take some time, but we will eventually get to all of these roads,” Nance stated. “Thank you for the patience, and we will certainly continue to work. Our folks are really doing a lot of work out there every day, trying to get these problems solved.”
Nance also addressed the four areas of slope failure that occurred in 2019. County Roads 17, 189, 193 and 38 washed out with the lasting, heavy rains the area experienced that year. In fact, the road beds washed in such a way that a simple patch/pave job would not do the trick.
“These roads, to repair them, is not a matter of just doing a simple patch job,” Nance stated. “The road beds were washed in such a way that it’s going to take significant engineering analysis so that we understand how to stabilize the slopes and road beds before we rebuild. In fact, we are rebuilding those areas where we had slope failures.”
County Road 17 was completed in 2021, and County Road 189 was completed in 2022. The Commission has been working with an engineering firm for a design analysis on the slope failures on the remaining two roads. The Public Works Department is currently in the process of evaluating the analysis for County Road 93 and will be bringing the analysis forward to the Commission for a decision on how to proceed.
Each one of these repairs/rebuilds takes up to a year and a half. Because they were deemed local disaster areas, this qualified them for FEMA funding. The County does have to pay for the rebuilds up front, but after submitting claims, they can be reimbursed 80% of the cost by FEMA.
“Let me offer a number to call,” Nance stated. “If you have a concern about your road, you can call Public Works at 256.259.6037, and they will take information on the road and put a work order together for us to respond to service the road.”
Another area under repair is the county’s courthouse in Scottsboro. The HVAC is slated for replacement with a contract awarded to Modern Heating and Cooling for the entire system. This will include replacing all the air conditioning units and heating units for the courthouse, also giving some of the latest upgrades, treating pathogens in the air for air recirculation, making it a much safer environment for the people who visit the courthouse and the people who work there.
The IT system contact has also been awarded, enabling the courthouse to have more reliable phone and communications to take care of the county’s citizens. Two additional contracts have also been awarded for engineering and architectural analysis as well as design specifications for structural upgrades for the courthouse and the renovation of the Liberty Lane building.
The Commission recently transitioned Cumberland Mountain Park to the town of Skyline.
“We did an assessment of the assessed value of the park, and when we determined how much money the town of Skyline had put in as their own investment in the park, developing the park, we realized they’d paid most of the assessed value,” Nance stated. “With that, we decided we’d sign over a deed to the town of Skyline, and they are very appreciative of that.
Work is also being done with North Sand Mountain Park, Public Works and the county’s Park Director. This will focus on and around improving the road to the park, parking lot and other work in the ball fields and park.
Recent appointments were made to a couple boards. The Jackson County Commission appoints members to 14 boards across the county that serve everything from the hospital board, water boards, 911 boards or economic development authority boards, just to name a few. Three appointments were made to the DeKalb/Jackson Water Authority: Terry York, Bobby Landon Lewis and Dawn Pettengill. Four appointments were made to the Marshall-Jackson 310 Board: Brittney Williams, Melissa Johnson, Felicia Harding and Angela Gaddis.
“Of these 14 boards, it gives us the opportunity to have citizens of Jackson County participate and serve the county,” Nance stated. “And these are important boards. As I said, they range anywhere from economic development authority boards to hospital authority boards and others. So, when we have appointments come up, times to reappoint, we will put a notice in the newspaper about a month out to let citizens know there’s an opportunity to apply. Just apply with a letter and request with some information about your background, and we will then put that request before the commission for board membership.”
Nance continued, “I would like to finish by giving my thanks to the dedicated service of all our county employees who are working every day to support the citizens of Jackson County and also to our Jackson County commissioners for their service and willingness to serve the citizens of Jackson County. Thank you.”