Walker County Commission Chairman Jerry Bishop said Monday that garbage trucks that had broken down caused problems with garbage service in recent days — and then added he wanted the public to understand that he cannot tell district commissioners what to do and how to spend their money.
Bishop spoke during the commissioner comment time at the end of Monday's commission meeting.
He began his comments by saying that he had "taken heat over the weekend" about garbage not being picked up. About four of six mechanical trucks used broke down at about the same time and had to be repaired. He said the county gets the trucks repaired as quickly as it can, although he said it is not as simple as getting an oil change.
Bishop said county funding is not a factor, as it involved vehicles under warranty, the complexity of the job, and the fact the breakdowns happened just before a holiday.
"You can't run a big ol' garbage truck into a filling station and get it repaired," he said. "Most of it is specialized equipment." He said crews worked over the weekend to catch up on the routes.
Bishop then said he wanted to bring up another topic.
"I can't tell these commissioners what to do in their districts and with their monies," he said. "I can help. I can suggest. But I'm tired of getting phone calls telling me to tell somebody what to do. I can't. They were elected to do their jobs. I can suggest and I'll help them any way I can — same way with the engineer over there (Mike Short). But I can't go out there and take their district over like on Facebook, which I don't watch. Now, that is about as plain as I know how to put it. Thank you."
The chairman is elected from across the county without a district, while the other four commissioners are elected from districts.
District 2 Commissioner Jeff Burrough, whose district, according to Bishop, had some of the garbage problems, said he wanted to commend the crews. "I'm amazed at our workforce. We have some really good people who work for us. I want to commend them for picking up and doing the extra things it takes to provide the services. I want to thank them publicly." Bishop added, "I'll second that," noting other commissioners would likely say the same thing.
In other action at the meeting, the commission:
• Heard County Administrator Robbie Dickerson say that Friday will be the conversion date for AT&T to install its new systems for county offices.
• Heard Dickerson urged everyone to remember that the Foothills Festival will start in downtown Jasper Friday, meaning that parking "will be a premium" after 1 p.m. District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis later said in the meeting it was "a great event for families and friends to come out and see Jasper. Jasper continues to grow downtown and throughout."
• Approved a $204,984 grant from the Alabama Department of Youth Services to the Walker County Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), which provides alternatives to incarceration for young offenders and delinquents, using individual service and support networks. About 18 youth are expected to be affected by the grant, which is given each year. District 4 Commissioner Steven Aderholt said YAP is a great asset to the county and encouraged people to donate to YAP.
• Heard Davis is continuing to finish up paving projects in his district and is waiting on contractors to handle a few details. "All the striping is done and the reflectors are down," he said.
• Heard Burrough say his crews are finishing a round of grass cutting "on the Saragossa end, finishing up towards Highway 5." Several projects are close to final work in the next couple of weeks or so. He emphasized for the public to drive safely around work sites with cones, as they are short of men to direct traffic there.
"My phone is 205-388-9638 if anyone needs questions answered," he said, addressing the Daily Mountain Eagle's live online Facebook video feed of the meeting. "There is a lot of speculation about what goes on each week, but I can assure you in our districts we are out working."
Aderholt also asked people to slow down. "These guys are working in close proximity to the roadway and there are not a lot of fast driving cars moving around."
• Heard District 3 Commissioner Ralph Williams say his crews are behind in mowing, saying three mowers broke down at the same time, with two in the shop for repairs "and another was out on the road." He said they are now repaired and crews are cutting grass.
• Heard commissioners ask for prayers for those affected by Hurricane Dorrian.
• Heard Aderholt say that his district had dealt with storm clean up over the past couple of weeks, with some trees still falling now.
• Heard Williams say people in the county are taking fallen trees from their yards and hauling it to the county rights of way for the county crews to pick up. "We're not supposed to be dealing with private property," he said. "Property owners should not drag this stuff over to the county right of way and expect us to pick it up. If a tree falls in the road, that is our business."