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County Council Approves Generator for Courthouse, Additional Funding for Lockhart Boat Ramp Project

Daniel Prince

Council to consider funding sources for major projects at special meeting next week

At Tuesday’s Union County Council meeting, Dottie Rogers was honored for 15 years of service to the county. Council voted to fill a budgeted position in the Probate Judge’s office. They voted to fill two budgeted positions at Healthy U Behavioral Health Services. One is a clinical counselor, and the other is a part-time admin position. They also voted to hire an additional full-time employee at 911. While technically the position will not come open until September when a full-time employee there retires, Emergency Services Director Dennis Merrifield said he has two dispatchers that are out on extended medical leave, and he doesn’t know when they will return. Merrifield said he was concerned about having enough employees to properly cover shifts, as they always need to maintain a minimum of three on duty, and often they only have two. The employees are working a fair amount of overtime, as well. He said he is concerned about employee burnout. Council agreed to go ahead and hire a person as a temporary full-time position, to be converted to a permanent full-time position once the dispatcher retires in September. Council member Ben Ivey made a motion to advertise for the Clerk to Council position that is included in the upcoming budget, to begin July 1. Council approved that motion unanimously.

There were two requests for capital funds made and approved. Supervisor Frank Hart noted the county added a universal power supply to the servers at the courthouse to help keep things running when the power goes out. However, after a couple of hours, the UPS batteries are exhausted. A generator is needed at the courthouse that would kick in to keep those needed systems going if an extended outage occurs. It cost $26,500, to be paid from bond proceeds. Rusty Snider with the Public Works Department said the department really needs a larger excavator, as the one it has now is undersized and cannot pick up concrete pipe and has trouble filling dump trucks and doing other duties that his department needs it to do. Snider said he wants to trade in the current excavator for a larger model. In addition, he will not purchase a truck for his department that he planned to purchase in the coming fiscal year, instead rolling that money into the purchase of the larger excavator, as well. Doing all that left a need for $21,500 in bond proceeds to complete the purchase. Council approved the request.

Supervisor Frank Hart said that the ongoing Lockhart Boat Ramp project has gotten more expensive than first thought. It was to be a $500,000 project, but the bid came in at around $834,350. After securing some additional funding with help from the delegation for additional funding through the Department of Natural Resources and the County Transportation Committee, Hart asked council to approve $50,000 from the economic development fund to cover the rest of the shortfall and provide a little cushion in case costs increase even more before the project concludes. Council unanimously approved the funding.

Hart gave council members a list of upcoming major capital expenditure projects the county hopes to tackle. The list included proposals for the funds to use to pay for the projects and more. He said the idea is to formalize key projects and get the funding lined up for them. Council is expected to take action on that information in Monday’s special meeting.

We’ll have even more from the meeting in future newscasts.

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