Pro bono work honored

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 10, 2013

In conjunction with the national observance of Pro Bono Week, Gov. Robert Bentley has proclaimed the week of Oct. 20 to highlight pro bono services rendered throughout Alabama.

On Wednesday, the Covington County Commission signed a resolution to recognize the importance of the free services provided by every branch of government to those who could not normally afford them.

John Peek, the county’s bar association president, said, “Lawyers, we’re supposed to help people, and we try. We always look at the literary character of Atticus Finch, who helped someone when it was unpopular to do so. We think that’s what you’re supposed to do as a lawyer – help people.”

Peek said the program doesn’t offer legal services free of charge to all who apply.

“This is a volunteer program where lawyers willing will take a small number of cases per year where you will agree to accept certain cases on a referral from bar association at no charge to the client,” Peek said.

Peek said there is a small group of local attorneys who participate in the program.

“When I first came to the county, about 11 percent of the local bar were members of the program,” he said. “Now, it’s about 16 percent, which is only three or four added to the rolls.”

Peek instructed locals needing legal assistance through the program to contact the state bar association at 1.800.354.6154.

In other business, the commission:

• approved a contract with the county board of education to provide school resource officers in the county schools. The school board will contribute $75,000 toward the cost.

• adopted a network administrator job description;

• approved a retail liquor license for Gantt Lake resturant Rivers Seven;

• appointed county engineer Darren Capps and Commissioner Kenneth Northey to the Wiregrass Resource Conservation and Development Council;

• renewed the Department of Youth Services long term detention subsidy contract;

• declared 2000 Chevy Z-71 sheriff’s department truck as surplus;

• agreed to pay mileage for volunteers to attend board meetings when mileage is not reimbursed by a governmental agency;

• awarded bids for seed and fertilizer to the Andalusia and Florala Farmers Co-Ops; and

• granted $300 for the local veteran’s day program.

To view a video of the day’s meeting, visit

It could be sometime in November before credit cards can be accepted at a variety of county offices.

The practice to allow credit and debit card use at the probate, revenue, mapping and appraisal, engineer and sheriff’s offices was unanimously approved during a continuation of the Sept. 11 meeting.

Currently, the probate office is only office set up to accept credit cards. The fee associated with card use is absorbed by the office; however, that will change once the new system is in place.

County Administrator Brenda Petty said there are “some technical glitches” in implementing the card service as she is negotiating with individual card companies.

“We hope it will all be worked out by Nov. 1,” she said.