Sheriff, engineer discuss matters with commission

Published 5:16 pm Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman spoke to the county commission Tuesday regarding fees for serving civil documents.

The document service fee was previously established at $75 and the sheriff had requested to renew that amount. The amount is only collected if the papers are served, according to the sheriff.

He added that deputies spend a lot of time serving documents and suggested adding four part-time employees to assist with the workload.

“It’s my wish to open up a civil document service division. These deputies are having a lot of papers to serve. When our deputies are serving those all day, it takes away from the actual proactive law enforcement,” Turman said.

The sheriff said the part-time employees would be hired at a flat hourly rate and that vehicles would be purchased through his office’s discretionary fund.

He said money collected from serving the documents would be processed through the county clerk’s office and would be refunded if deputies are unable to serve the documents.

“We spend a lot of time and gas (serving documents). It’s just not money effective. I brought this out for you to consider. For the general fund, you’re looking at $75 per document for 3,300 documents, which comes to $250,000.”

Turman stated he has 12 road deputies capable of serving papers.

“We’re only slotted for so many deputies and I’d like to have more. If we were able to free up time to do positive law enforcement, it would be a big kick-start,” he added.

“The officers are going to serve (papers) anyway, but time is of the essence. I’m hoping we can streamline this. With some civil process servers, they can keep a closer eye on what comes in the courthouse. If the fee is added, it will pay for itself. There is still the option of using a private server with fees ranging from $25 to $100 and the $75 is in that range.”

The commission agreed to further discuss the issue at a future meeting.

County Engineer reports to commissioners

County Engineer Lynn Ralls went over the county’s transportation plan and outlined three bids on asphalt, which were each approved by the commission.

“We had one bid for a used scraper that met all of the requirements. We sent out a mechanic to look at the machine and it was what the guy said it was. It’s a $75,000 bid on a used item and I recommend awarding that bid,” Ralls said.

The second bid was for an impact on surface treatment and based on the Rebuild Alabama project. SEC Materials submitted a bid packet for the surface treatment. The bid was approved by the commission.

The final bid was by Wiregrass Construction was hot mix, which Ralls said was different from what has been used in the past.

“We’ve used ALDOT specifications, but this one would go on a balanced mix design. Our county engineers put together this mixed design. There is a lot more asphalt in the mix,” he said.

As an example, Ralls said an asphalting project on County Road 70 is already showing signs of cracking after about 5-7 years.

“This new mixed design mimics more of the older mixes we used to have,” Ralls said.

Ralls added that other projects are lined up provided a grant from FEMA is received.

“The Bush Isle Road bridge replacement and Frank Tisdale Road in the Babbie community are two we are looking at,” he said. “One road is still damaged from Hurricane Sally with an abatement issue there. All of the design numbers come out to about $2.3 million of future construction that we’re looking at.

He said a job has been completed on County Road 93 where a guardrail was displaced near the Fleeta school area that is now complete. There is also a project now complete on County Road 32 in the Libertyville community. County Road 89 has been restriped and was part of the rebuild for fiscal year 2020. We have about $400,000 and will get to about 5 miles of Straughn School Road. Ralls said construction could start within 3 to 4 weeks with a timetable of a few weeks.

The next meeting of the Covington County Commission will be held Tuesday, July 13, 9 a.m., at the Covington County Administration Building. The public is invited to attend.