Fishers upset over Pt. A fees

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A group of more than 10 fishermen left empty-handed Monday as they attempted to persuade commissioners to revisit the Pt. A Park lease.

The group, which was spearheaded by LaVaughn Bullock, voiced its concerns regarding the boat launch fee implemented in 2009 when the property was leased by Thom Watson and Sweet Home Alabama Campground LLC.

The property is owned by PowerSouth and was leased to the county. In an effort to save the county approximately $83,000 a year in salaries and maintenance, PowerSouth agreed to allow the county to sublease the property to Watson.

Since then, Watson has charged a $3 per day user fee for the use of the boat ramp at the Pt. A. Road bridge. An annual pass is $25.

Bullock said a petition is being circulated protesting that fee.

“My question is this – tax dollars in Covington County help build that park and the bridge,” Bullock said. “There’s lots of old people…who need a place to launch their boat to fish. There’s lots of people who can’t afford $3 a day. That box needs to be taken up at the bridge.”

County attorney Julie Moody explained that under the terms of the lease agreement, Watson has the authority to determine when and what to charge for use of the property.

“What it means is that there is no free access to Pt. A Lake for the general public,” one crowd member said. “We ask that the county give it back to us.”

However, commissioners agreed they could not revise the lease.

“Then (Watson) might change his mind about having the park,” said Commissioner David Ellis. “The way things are (with the economy) he’s just trying to make a living. While I appreciate your concerns, what I’d like to see is you and Mr. Watson sit down and come to an agreement. We want both parties to be happy.”

In other business, the commission:

• voted to negotiate a price with Scott Elmore for the lease of the District 1 shop in Opp.

• approved a three-year contract renewal for county engineer Darren Capps, effective Aug. 1. The renewal also includes an amended job description.

• adopted the annual tax levy schedule and the Alabama Beverage Control Board fee schedule without any changes.

• appropriated $4,000 to contribute to the South Central Alabama Mental Health Board to assist in purchasing five vans. The contribution is a portion of a 20 percent match required by the Alabama Department of Transportation grant.

• awarded a bid for $21,674 to Andalusia Ford for a new sheriff’s department patrol car.

• reappointed Frank Shufford to the Covington County Water Authority Board and Jim Hogg to the South Crenshaw Water Authority.