During a meeting Tuesday night that lasted more than three hours, the Lawrence County Commission dealt with several significant issues, including employee lunch hours, animal control, area park funding and adding a new regular meeting to be held every month.
The employee lunch hour was the last agenda item listed under new business. In Feb. 2011, the commission voted to stop giving county employees a paid lunch hour, but delayed doing so until the new courthouse annex was complete. Since employees moved in the new building, nothing about the schedule has changed, so the commission re-visited the issue.
Commissioner Joey Hargrove said he wanted to clarify the previous vote and make sure the new policy of not paying for a lunch break was implemented. Commissioner Mose Jones immediately made a motion to keep the paid lunch breaks as-is, and it failed for lack of a second.
Hargrove moved that the county eliminate the paid lunch hour and give all employees an unpaid 30-minute lunch break, with the exception of the sheriff’s department. The motion passed 3-1, with Jones opposed and Hargrove and Commissioners Bobby Burch and Jon-Mark Nelson in favor. Chairman Prentis Davis only votes in case of a tie. The move will be effective for the next county pay period.
The commission then discussed amending the hours at the Judicial and Administrative Center to add an extra half-hour, but did not take action on the issue.
The beginning of the meeting dealt with the animal control issue. The commission heard presentations from Bobbie Taylor and Joseph Miller about their ideas for animal control in the county. Taylor volunteered to take dogs at her shelter for free until the commission decided how the county will handle animal control in the next fiscal year.
Jones moved to stop the current system of taking dogs to Morgan County and instead send them to Taylor’s shelter to save the county the costs. The motion passed 3-0-1 with Burch abstaining.
Hargrove also brought up the issue of park funding. He said the Jesse Owens park was receiving money from the county and other parks in the county are self-sustaining through fundraisers and youth sports. A lengthy discussion ensued about the Jesse Owens park and how it is unique among the other area parks because of the tourism it attracts. Finally, the commission decided to wait until budget hearings to decide a permanent funding solution.
Near the end of the meeting, the commission voted to add a second monthly meeting, coming on the fourth Tuesday of the month. The second meeting each month will be held at 10 a.m., with the first meeting of the month staying at 6 p.m.
In other business, the commission did the following:
•Approved hiring Angela Baldwin as a solid waste department secretary.
•Approved purchasing a new garbage truck and renting a truck in the meantime due to the wreck of a truck last week.
•Approved hiring two part-time drivers for the garbage trucks.
•Approved meeting minutes for July 9 and July 18.
•Approved a lease with the Department of Human Resources.
•Approved the Lockheed-Martin Safety Easement.
•Approved a grant application for work at the airport.
•Heard a presentation from former county administrator Peggy King who complained about not being able to get several records she had requested from the commission office.
•Heard an update from Lee Helms on storm shelter grants around the county.
•Approved appointing Brenda Morgan interim EMA director and Ben Duncan interim county engineer, pending interviews for those positions.
•Approved drafting a resolution honoring Mac Rushing for his years of service as county engineer.
•Approved several legal resolutions regarding the Industrial Development Board in order to dissolve two older non-functioning boards of the same name.
The commission’s next meeting will be on Aug. 27 at 10 a.m. with a work session preceding the meeting at 9 a.m.