Our New Normal?

Our New Normal?

By Marla Jones, Managing Editor • marla@southerntorch.com

PHOTO: At Tuesday's meeting of the DeKalb County Commission, it was reported that the DeKalb County Probate Office and Activities Building, as well as the public library, will reopen with limited hours on Monday, begging the question: as Alabama returns to "normal", what does our new normal look like? (Chris Pruitt | Wikimedia Commons)

The DeKalb County Commission held their regularly scheduled meeting on May 12. President Rickey Harcrow, commissioners Scott Westbrook and Lester Black, along with County Administrator Matt Sharp and County Attorney Jeff McCurdy were the only ones in attendance due to the gathering restrictions.

President Harcrow reported that the Courthouse would be opening from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning on Monday, May 18.  

Circuit Judge Jeremy Taylor addressed the Commission regarding upcoming trials and COVID -19 restrictions.

He asked the Commission to make the City of Fort Payne Auditorium a temporary Courthouse Annex for jury selection and bigger trials to adhere to requirements. The Commission passed a resolution to deem this facility a temporary annex.

County Administrator Matt Sharp gave the Commission an update on county roads (CR) for Superintendent Tom Broyles. At this time there are eleven roads closed due to the flooding event that occurred on Easter Sunday. 

The county roads included in the closure are: 635, 641, 33, 360, 386, 1986, 363, 44, 92, 143, 693. So far, the DeKalb County Road Department has hauled 4,250 tons of rock and 4,000 cubic yards of chert to these roads. 

Broyles asked that the retirement of Richard Bridgeman, Danny Hood, and Kerry Duncan be accepted effective on May 30, 2020, and to post two available vacancies. 

Sharp also addressed the Commission on behalf of DeKalb County Engineer Ben Luther.  Luther requested a speed limit resolution for CR 329 be passed. The resolution would lower the speed limit on CR 329 to 35 miles per hour (mph) from CR 58 to CR 257.

For DeKalb County Nick Welden, Sharp notified the Commission of the resignation of Travis Chapman as a full-time jail nurse. Sharp asked the Commission to hire Shalanne Whited to replace Chapman. Sharp also asked for following hires in the Sheriff’s Office which were approved by the Commission:

  • Stefanie Munger to replace Zach Bell
  • Deanna Gomez to replace Tiffany Edwards
  • Lyndall Elkins to replace Jon Brown

Deputy Director Michael Posey of the DeKalb County Homeland Security/Emergency Management Agency (HMSEA) gave a COVID-19 update to the Commission.  

In his report, he stated that DeKalb County has 206 continuous cases, three fatalities and that there have been 1,509 tests conducted in the county equating to a positive result in 13% of those tested. Posey went on to state that there are several approved testing sites within the County. These sites are located at:

  • Fort Payne Health Center – 3840 Gault Ave Fort Payne
  • Care Plus – 3000 Gault Avenue, Fort Payne
  • Encore Medical Spa and Family Practice – 1202 Gault Avenue N Fort Payne
  • DeKalb Regional Medical Center – 421 Medical Center Drive Fort Payne
  • Fyffe Health Center – 34617 AL Highway 75, Fyffe

In the State of Alabama, there are 10,494 cases of the novel coronavirus, 442 fatalities, and more than 1,300 hospitalizations since March 13. 

As of this report, laboratory testing of 129,444 cases has been conducted equating to a positive test on 8% of those tested statewide with 12% of positive cases resulting in hospitalizations, with an average of 285 new cases per day.

At the national level, 1,346,936 continuous cases have been detected with 80,684 fatalities and the nation as a whole is logging approximately 75,600 new cases per day since May 1.

Posey also updated the Commission regarding the flooding on Easter. County-wide damages are  approximately - $3,541,210.62 which include all jurisdictions reporting. Roads and Bridges alone total $775,072.98 in damages.  These numbers broke down in Districts are as follows:

  • District 1 - $367,312.28
  • District 2 - $267,884.85
  • District 3 - $30,463.78
  • District 4 - $109,412.07

State officials have determined the state disaster threshold of 7.3 million dollars of

uninsured losses have been met and they are pushing a notice to FEMA Headquarters requesting a joint federal / state / local damage assessment to take the next step in obtaining a federal disaster declaration.

The next meeting of the DeKalb County Commission will be held on June 9, 2020 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Activities Building.

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