James Hutcheson the chairman of the Marshall County Commission, said that the Commission had another good year in 2018.
They were able to give another step pay raise to employees and keep reasonably priced health insurance plans. The employees pay nothing for the individual insurance coverage and only $125 a month for family coverage. He said that to his knowledge, this is some of the best rates anywhere on health insurance. He believes that the employees are very appreciative of that and that the Commission was also able to give them a pay raise.
A lot of work has been done to Park No. 2. They have upgraded the electrical system, renovated some of the picnic tables and pulled it up to good standards.
This year, they have been able to increase the county general fund’s balance some even while giving the pay raise. They have been able to put a little extra money back for projects. In 2019, they plan on doing some major work in the jail, Hutcheson said.
In 2018, they gained two new commissioners and will have another new appointed commissioner in 2019.
Hutcheson said it will be a different environment in the coming year. The county will also have a new sheriff and a new probate judge. They already have and will have a lot of new county officials by the middle of January. Hutcheson said that his goal is to help them anyway he can in their area of responsibility.
He said that the new sheriff will probably have some requests for the jail. That is not uncommon for them to ask for items that the jail may need.
They have spent a tremendous amount of money on the jail already, Hutcheson said. For instance, they put in a new lock system, an industrial kitchen and industrial washer and dryers, along with fencing around the jail and a heating and cooling system. The Commission is looking for what all needs to be done for the jail once the new sheriff takes office.
“I’m sure he will have a wish list,” he said, “that we will review very closely.”
It is a continuous process for the jail and that is not only Marshall County but statewide, Hutcheson said.
“I am really looking forward to working with all the new officials,” Hutcheson said. “We want to keep the county moving forward. We will work with the legislators to make sure we get as much money into Marshall County as possible.”
The Alabama Department of Transportation’s John Cooper has been instrumental in moving money into Marshall County. He has been helpful and they plan on calling on his assistance in the future to get more road money into Marshall County. In the past several years, he has facilitated in getting a lot of projects completed in Marshall County, Hutcheson said.
Hutcheson and Cooper are lifelong friends.
There are seven or eight candidates who have applied in the chairman’s office for the District 2 commissioner seat left vacant by the passing of longtime Commissioner R.E. Martin. Between himself, Sen. Clay Scofield and Rep. Wes Kitchens, they will look over the applicants and pick the best qualified person to recommend to the governor.
As of now, Hutcheson is filling in for District 2. He said because it is the winter months, they are kind of slow. They are still working on repair work and patching holes, but he is looking forward to coming up with a replacement. His hopes are that this will come shortly after the first of the year.
The legislature should be looking at some kind of gasoline tax this coming year, Hutcheson said. That could be beneficial to the county because it could help with the funds for repairing old roads and bridges. He is looking forward to seeing how the legislative session turns out this year in Montgomery.
Hutcheson said they have been able to run the county efficiently and still save some money. The Commission has been able to continue with pay raises, keeping good insurance rates and doing a lot of work.
They are continuously working on the Courthouses, he added. They redid the branch Courthouse in Albertville last year, he believes, and have done several projects to the main Courthouse in Guntersville as well. The county owns 20 something buildings and they maintain all of them in good working order, the chairman said.
The main focus for 2019, Hutcheson said, is to work well with the newly elected officials.
Hutcheson provided a short list of the districts' main projects that they did and projects that they are currently doing as well. The list does not include paving performed by county forces with county equipment. Below is the list:
Feemster and Aldridge Gap slides
Feemster Gap Industrial Access project – 30 percent complete
CDBG grant for resurfacing project for subdivision off AL 79 – plan preparation in progress
Paving 2.5 miles of Cottonville Road and Skyhawk Drive – waiting on Whitaker
Arbor Acres bridge culvert – 80 percent complete
Buck Island Road Industrial Access project – plan preparation in progress
New Home Road bridge replacement project – 55 percent complete
Mt. Sinai bridge replacement project – should start next week
Old 227 Road resurfacing – December 2018 anticipated start-up
Baker Road bridge culvert ST project – updating plans, possible spring bid letting
Cochran Road GRS Bridge – complete
Martling Gap Federal Aid resurfacing project – March 2019 bid letting