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County makes two polling location changes

Two voting precincts in Franklin County are on the cusp of changes after the Franklin County Commission meeting Monday.

Commissioners voted unanimously to change the name of Precinct 19 – located at Cornerstone Fellowship on Highway 243 and formerly located at East Franklin Junior High School – from the East Franklin/Trapptown polling location to Churntown.

In a separate change, the commission also voted unanimously to move the Vina voting location from the fire department to the community center.

In the matter of the proposed name change to Churntown, Commission Chairman Barry Moore said some citizens in that area of the county were uncertain of their voting location, and commissioners determined East Franklin/Trapptown did not accurately represent the location of those citizens.

“That is the Churntown community right there,” said Moore.  “We’re just wanting to clarify that as a Churntown voting precinct.”

Commissioner Chris Wallace, who is the commission representative for that area of the county, said he agreed the change was needed and would help clear up any confusion for voters.

With the change approved by commissioners, Moore will draw up a resolution to send to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, where election system officials will acknowledge and formalize the change.

In Vina, where the polling place has been located at the Volunteer Fire Department, Moore said citizens had expressed concerns about vehicles blocking in fire trucks – and what that might mean should an emergency arise on an electing day.

“The VFD has been more than accommodating. They’re not asking for the change,” Moore said. “But people do get in there and block the fire trucks in, and if something were to ever happen…”

Commissioners backed the citizens’ suggestion to move the polling place to the community center – barely a stone’s throw away from the VFD.

“The building they are going to move it to is just right across the parking lot, more or less,” said Commissioner David Hester, who represents Vina. “I think it’s a good move. If it was one of our houses on fire in the Vina community, and we had an emergency, and those trucks couldn’t get out until you said, ‘Hey, who owns this Chevrolet?’” – it would certainly be a less-than-ideal situation, Hester emphasized.

Moore said the community center is an ideal spot for the polling location in Vina – heated and air conditioned and easily accessible – and “we don’t have to go through a legislative act or anything because its staying in the precinct.”

Vina VFD Chief Michael Moomaw said while he can see a downside to the move – namely because it will tie up the community center on election days when it could be used for other purposes – he understands the commission’s reasons and can see the plus side as well.

“It’s going to free up the fire tucks because we have people blocking the doors, and that hinders us when we get a call,” Moomaw said. And although that hasn’t happened often – “We’ve been very fortunate; we might have had one or two calls” – Moomaw added he knows on those rare occasions, “the smoke off the trucks is a hindrance to the people working inside there.”

The next election day will be in March 2020, which will feature a number of local elections on the ballot and will also be presidential primary. Moore said both precinct changes will be complete well before that time.