County OKs park lease change

Published 12:34 am Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A stay at the Sweet Home Alabama Campground will soon be sweeter, thanks to property upgrades made possible after commissioners approved a lease extension to allow its operator to recoup project expenses.

Comm-issioner Carl Turman called the decision “a no-brainer.”

In July, Thom Watson, operator of the Sweet Home Alabama Campgrounds, asked to change his the lease signed in 2009. The five-year contract allowed Watson to sublease the Pt. A grounds from the Covington County Commission. It included two five-year renewal options and required Watson to assume all maintenance, operation and insurance responsibilities for the property, which is owned by PowerSouth. By subleasing the property, the county saves approximately $83,000 a year.

Watson said electrical work is needed at the campground, so he asked commissioners to allow him to begin the second five-year renewal to allow him to recoup costs of upgrades.

On Monday, commissioners agreed – approving a contract extension to extend Watson’s lease to seven years with two five-year renewal options.

“This is basically the same contract the county entered into with Mr. Watson three years ago, only with a few changes,” said county attorney Julie Moody.

Watson said previously there were three meter boxes on the property that needed to be combined into one.

“Mr. Watson has made a lot of improvements to the park, so to me (the contract extension) is a no brainer,” Turman said. “The improvements he plans to make will incur a lot of expenses. He wants to get his money back, and I don’t blame him.”

At Monday’s meeting, commissioners also handled other business, including:

• reappointing Ricky Suggs to the Florala Airport Authority Board; Commissioner Bragg Carter and County Engineer Darren Capps to the Wiregrass Resource, Conservation and Development Council; and Birdie Smith to the county’s personnel review board.

• declaring a 1999 Dodge 1500 pickup truck used by the county’s solid waste enforcement officer at the county health department, as surplus and voted to dispose of it on the online auction site, The commission also voted to purchase a new pickup off the state bid list.