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County is #039;Storm Ready#039;

Good news for local citizens concerned with the numerous hurricanes which tend to form this time of year, the heart of the hurricane season.

During the regularly scheduled Covington County Commission meeting Monday morning, Randy McKee and Gary Beeler from the National Weather Service declared Covington County as ready for severe weather.

Through upgrades over the past couple of years in weather tracking devices and the radar system, the EMA station in Andalusia was named certified "Storm-Ready." Susan Carpenter, director of EMA, received a plaque from McKee on behalf of the emergency personnel who would assist citizens in disastrous weather.

"By obtaining alternative methods of assistance and training in the time of a disaster, the emergency system would minimize loses and save lives," McKee said.

McKee added EMA and emergency personnel have the necessary resources which meet requirements to be certified. The dedication of Carpenter and her crew, he said, has qualified the storm response team.

"This is something for the county to be proud of," Carpenter said. "An evaluation of our program found advances in the past couple of years, including upgrades on the weather radio and installation of sirens located throughout the county. We're glad our hard work has paid off."

Also during the meeting, Probate Judge Sherrie Phillips announced the approval of Opp's City Council for the relocation of the voting precinct. The commission unanimously approved the new voting precinct, which was previously at the Opp Area Chamber of

Commerce. The relocation must be advertised and publicly discussed, and any additional relocations would require public hearings, according to Phillips. Also, Commission Chairman Greg White said the vote would have to be sent to the US Justice Department for approval.

The new precinct would be moved to the Senior Citizens Facility on 500 Brantley Street, close to Channell-Lee Stadium. The change could increase the number of votes from registered voters, said Phillips.

"About four times the amount of people who vote in Opp will be affected," Phillips said. "Of course, the machines would have to be regulated under HAVA (Help America Vote Act) standards, and they must be identical to the previous machines."

A proposal would be needed to present to the commission for consolidation of any precincts, and Phillips is scheduled to bring the proposal to Friday's meeting.

During the referendum vote on Sept. 9, about 47 percent of voters in the County voted. Because of an Alabama law which states a precinct must be within eight miles from a voter's residence, the City of Opp voted on the new location. Discussion of the new precinct was tabled, however, until a proposal is presented to the commission.

The commission unanimously approved bids for new computer equipment at the Probate Office, totaling almost $29,600.

Also, the commission unanimously approved a renewal of an in-home for the elderly grant for the city of Lockhart.

The commission also approved out-of-state travel, and Chairman Greg White announced he will soon be traveling to South Korea for a meeting.