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County commissioners swear in before first meeting

The Franklin County Commission had its first meeting of the newly-elected commissioners Wednesday night after each commissioner was sworn in.

Jospeh Baldwin was sworn in to begin his first term, and Chris Wallace, Jason Miller and David Hester were sworn in to continue serving as commissioners. Each commissioner was surrounded by family members and supporters.

“This is a different start to our meeting than normal, but we are pleased to officially welcome this group,” said Franklin County Probate Judge Barry Moore.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the commissioners began a meeting to vote on their first items of action.

The commissioners unanimously voted to accept three invoices from the Franklin County EMA Department for a total of $11,300 to repair weather sirens.

The first invoice is for $5,285 to replace the storm siren at East Franklin Junior High School, which was badly damaged when it was struck by lightning.

The second invoice, for an amount of $3,860, is to repair the siren in Tharptown, which EMA Director Mary Hallman Glass said is running around 50 percent.

“People depend on those sirens, way more than I thought before I got into this,” Hallman Glass said. “We try to tell them not to, honestly. It is better for them to have some sort of radio or something else to alert them, but some people only depend on the sirens.”

The final invoice is for $2,155 to repair a siren at Frankfurt and get the siren at EFJH up to 50 percent until it can be replaced.

Hallman Glass said she needed the commission to take on the expense because the total cost would deplete the EMA budget for the year. The cost of repair will come from the commission’s capital project budget.

Hallman Glass also updated the commission on the closing of the Red Bay Rescue Squad because of a lack of members. All rescue calls will now be filled by the Red Bay Fire Department, with Vina and Burnout Rescue both helping with calls.

The building, which was loaned by Franklin County Schools, has since been turned back over to the school system. All equipment was divided among the rescue squads in the county, with Vina Rescue Squad receiving the rescue vehicle.

The commissioners also voted to submit County Road 40 for the 2021 Rebuild Alabama Annual Grant Program, following recommendations of county engineer David Palmer.

Palmer said the commission submits a project to the state each year to be considered for grant money.

The Rebuild Alabama Grant is for $250,000, which Palmer said would fund the majority of the $312,000 project for County Road 40, if the project is selected. The remaining $62,000 would come from local funds.

“This is a road that we have invested a lot of money in over time,” Palmer said. “I recommend submitting this project just because of the size of the project and because it is hard to come up with that amount of money.”

Palmer said the road, which sees about 500 vehicles a day, would have to be leveled and patched in several areas.

“I think this would be a good one to consider,” Wallace said. “I get a lot of complaints about that road.”