Commission approves opioid settlement, two changes in workforce classification

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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The Covington County Commission approved an agreement for an opioid settlement with Cardinal Health and also approved two changes in workforce classification at a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 23.

According to Administrator Karen Sowell, the opioid settlement is an allocation agreement sent from attorneys representing the County Commission Association.

“Everyone must approve the agreement in order for the proceeds to be distributed. They are asking us to consider this agreement and get it back to them as soon as possible,” Sowell said.

Half of the total settlement amount — approximately $110 million — will be allocated to cities and counties in Alabama. The settlement calls for 100 percent participation among cities and counties to be implemented.

The commission unanimously approved a change in workforce classification for the Probate Office.

“I am short an employee in my office and also have three employees who will be on maternity leave at or near the same time. I am asking for some temporary help to get us through the summer and the fall due to the maternity leaves. This would be a part-time temporary position, and I am looking to hire a student who can cover lunches or hours when someone is out,” Probate Judge Stacy Brooks said.

The commission also approved a change in workforce classification for the Sheriff’s Department by a 3-1 vote.

“We have one part-time opening in the Sheriff’s Department. It’s good to be at full staff, but we had a corrections officer doing his job of booking a subject in the Covington County Jail one day. The subject was canvasing the area and looking for a weapon. When the deputy informed him it was time to go to his cell and sprayed him with mace, the subject picked up a tool and started striking the deputy. The sharp end of the tool went into the corrections officer’s eye, in which he ultimately lost his sight. This is no place for the corrections officer to be anymore, and we can relocate him to a full-time position at the courthouse,” CCSO Chief Deputy Todd Grimes said.

Dist. 1 Commissioner Kenneth Northey, Dist. 2 Commissioner Michael Smith, and Dist. 4 Commissioner Tommy McGaha each voted “yes” and Dist. 3 Commissioner Lynne Holmes voted “no.”

“I don’t have a problem with it. From the circumstances that arose, I make a motion that we change the workforce classification to allow that,” Smith said.

“We want him to be able to continue in his job duties where he feels safe,” Northey said.

In other business:

  • The commission approved out-of-state travel for two sheriff’s officers to attend a training course in Louisiana from May 20-24 and a maintenance and road department employee to pick up equipment in St. Petersburg, Florida. Commission policy states that any out-of-state travel by County officials or employees must be approved by the commission at an open meeting.
  • The commission approved a decision on a bid for the Covington Center Arena and awarded a bid to the lowest bidder on a one-year term. Holmes requested an update to the contract that states the county should hire a temporary employee to assist with the project rather than a contractor until the fall.
  • The commission discussed inmate communication services but did not make a decision. There will be further discussion on this item at the next meeting.

The next meeting of the Covington County Commission will be held Tuesday, May 14, at 9 a.m., at the Covington County Administration Building. The public is invited to attend.