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Extending COVID-19 resolution until May 4 and road repairs on supervisor’s agenda Monday



Road repairs were among the topics discussed at this mornings Warren County Board of Supervisors work session (photo by Thomas Parker)

Two issues dominated the Warren County Board of Supervisors work session this morning: extending the shelter in place order and work on the county’s roads.

The bi-weekly session was held via teleconference on Monday, April 13.

The first topic of conversation was how to proceed regarding the current shelter-in-place resolution in the county as it relates to the COVID-19 crisis. The state proclamation expires next Monday, April 20, which is also the date on which the county’s proclamation expires.

The consensus among supervisors was to extend the current guidelines for another three weeks, until Monday, May 4.

Board President Dr. Jeffrey Holland said the governor should be making a statement regarding this issue at some point this week, and Board Attorney Blake Teller was instructed to prepare a document for next Monday’s regular board meeting to extend the date for the current proclamation.

County Engineer Keith O’Keefe of Neel-Schaffer reported on the progress of repairing the county’s roads toward the end of the meeting.

O’Keefe reported that he had received approval from the Federal Highway Administration on three federally subsidized road-repair projects on Friday. These include Flowers Hill, Oak Ridge and Redwood roads. The estimates on Ballground and Tiffentown roads were approved on April 6 by the board. These five projects will not be handled by the Warren County Road Department but will be put out for bids. Collectively the five repairs are estimated at $3.4 million.

If completed by August, 100% of the costs will be paid for with federal funds. If the repairs go beyond mid-August, the county is looking at an 80/20 match, where Warren County would be expected to pay 20% of the costs.

O’Keefe said he will present the estimates along with engineering proposals on the Redwood Road project to the board next Monday for the its review and approval.

O’Keefe then brought Richard Sosebee onto the call. Sosebee is a Neel-Schaffer employee with extensive experience with federally funded projects. He has been brought in to work with County Administrator Loretta Brantley, Warren County Emergency Management Agency Director John Elfer and others to ensure the county completes the documentation in a correct and timely manner to receive all applicable federal and state funding on eligible projects related to storm damage.

Among other topics discussed was the June 23 runoff election in the 2nd Congressional District. Supervisors agreed that paper ballots will be used for this election due to safety concerns related to COVID-19.

Attorney Teller brought up two Port Commission matters for board approval. First, Vicksmetal Armco Group wants to exercise its option to purchase a tract of land on the harbor. The company has been leasing the property for many years and has always paid its lease in a timely manner. The three-acre tract is adjacent to the company’s manufacturing facility on Haining Road. Second, Teller reported that Ergon wants to renew an ongoing lease agreement at a rate of $10,750 a month.

District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson proposed the board explore the use of a grant writer to apply for all possible state and federal funds for county projects. District 2 Supervisor William Banks responded by saying that doing so in the middle of a budget year was not a good move in his opinion, however, the other four supervisors agreed to explore whether a grant writer could be paid on contingency from the funds they secure.

Finally, the matter of whether to meet in person next Monday was addressed. Jackson proposed meeting via teleconference. District 1 Supervisor Edward Herring said he didn’t care if they met in a football stadium but felt the formal meeting should be held in person. The consensus was the meeting will be held next Monday at 9 a.m. in the board meeting room with a limit on attendees to comply with social distancing recommendations.

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