The Henry County Courthouse will be closed on Monday due to Hurricane Irma. As a result, county trash pickup will be pushed back one day.
Henry County will open two Red Cross shelters on Sunday. The First Baptist Church Headland located at 301 East Church Street in Headland and the Abbeville United Methodist Church located at 100 West Kelly Street in Abbeville will open at 4:00pm on Sunday September 10th.
Residents living in mobile homes are encouraged to seek out one of these shelters or stay with friends / family in a sturdy home.
“Get in the Game”
By: David Money
In 1988, I left the mayor’s office after twelve years in municipal government. There was no doubt in my mind that a career in public service had ended. Our business was going through some challenging times and I needed to devote all my energies to bringing it back. Then, in 1999, I attended ‘The Walk to Emmaus’ in the Big Bend community near Tallahassee. That weekend I heard a talk from a lay speaker that centered on Isaiah 6:8 – when the Lord asked, “Who will go for us – whom shall I send?” And Isaiah answered, “Here am I, Lord…send me.” I’ve never forgotten that talk…and that became a life verse for me. It reminds me that we are all called to missions…to serve others. Karen, Erin and I have since been on numerous mission trips – to help establish churches in Costa Rica and Belize…to assist in the vaccination of sheep, goats, horses and dogs on the Navajo Reservations of New Mexico and Arizona…to take supplies to the poor regions of Appalachia surrounding the Red Bird Mission in eastern Kentucky. The more we served the more blessed we became. And it opened my eyes to how much I missed public service.
After selling the dealership in 2011 a door opened that would allow the opportunity for a return to public service. For the past 4 ½ years, I’ve been honored to serve as your probate judge and county commission chairman. I’ve recently shared my desire to serve one final term. A strong foundation has been laid but there’s still much work to be done. We’ve just returned from the annual convention of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (A.C.C.A.) Strategies were developed that should lead to more jobs for our citizens, better county roads, a plan for a revised juvenile justice system and improvements in many other areas of concern for those of us in Henry County. The convention’s theme was ‘Get in the Game.’ Last Thursday, I was elected as the A.C.C.A. vice president for the coming year. With it comes an opportunity to have an even stronger voice for Henry County on the state level.
Public service is much like mission work…it can and should be a ministry of sorts…a calling to serve, to meet needs, to be there for others. Since January of 2013, I’ve centered my work around a second verse of scripture, Micah 6:8: “Seek Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with your God.” May that be our guiding principle as we all seek to ‘get in the game.’
30 Day Update:
Dates to Remember:
‘Why Must It Be So Complicated?’
By: David Money
The Alabama legislative process is by no means a simple one. Much more goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in Montgomery than is visible on the floor of the House or the Senate. Never has that been more apparent than during the debate over the ATRIP2 legislation as the 2017 session drew to a close. By statute, all revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives. Those bills are not allowed to come to a vote on the floor of the House until the General Fund budget has been passed (which historically happens well into the session.) A way around this is through what’s known as the B.I.R. (Budget Isolation Resolution.) Passage of a B.I.R. that is tied to a specific revenue bill allows that particular piece of legislation to be brought to a vote on the House floor even if the General Fund budget has not been passed.
The purpose in addressing this in this column is to clarify what has become a confusing situation. I’ve been asked about statements I had made indicating that our local legislators in the House of Representatives were not supportive of the ATRIP2 legislation (this is the bill that would have provided over $10 million in funding to make needed improvements to almost 100 miles of roads in Henry County and its municipalities.) Here is the clarification: I have no doubt whatsoever that IF the ATRIP2 legislation had gotten to a vote, every local Representative in the Wiregrass area would have voted for it. I have no doubt about that. The issue is that there was a problem just getting it to a vote. When you have the ‘no new tax under any circumstance’ Republicans as well as the Democratic Caucus and various other special interest groups trying to work deals to satisfy their own interests, the easiest way to prevent this type revenue legislation from coming to a vote is to bog down efforts to get the B.I.R. passed. That is what happened with the ATRIP2 bill.
Sadly, too often the ‘wants’ of special interest groups blind them to the ‘needs’ we face on the county level every day. My ‘special interest’ is this: to improve our roads and do it as soon as funds are available to get it done. Legislators don’t get the majority of calls from citizens who are rightfully demanding better roads. Those calls are made – as they should be – to their county commissioners and to the local road and bridge department. But, the truth of the matter is that our hands are tied financially. No one wants better roads more than we do – it is the number one priority in county government – but, as a county commission, we don’t have the statutory authority to pass some magical funding mechanism. That is the role of the legislature. So to any legislator who felt I was indicating that they didn’t support the bill itself, I apologize. My plea to each of them is this: do all you can to get the legislation to a vote on the floor of the House; then support it by voting ‘Yes.’
30 Day Updates
Dates to Remember:
“Watching County Road Restoration Funds Disappear Down the (Pot) Hole”
By: David Money
As this is being written on Friday, May 19th), the Alabama Legislature is today winding down the 2017 legislative session…with ZERO help for county roads. This is especially frustrating because county and city officials from all over the Wiregrass had come together in support of a plan that would have made a remarkable difference in our quest for economic development and improved road safety. The effort that died in this year’s session actually began with meetings with legislators last summer and fall. Then in December, counties statewide voted to endorse a program, drafted by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA), that would generate a funding source with all the proceeds earmarked to restore county roads that are not eligible for federal funds. As the ACCA District 11 board member (representing the nine counties in the most southeastern part of Alabama) I know firsthand the work and effort that went into crafting a piece of legislation that is both affordable and accountable. It would use a three cents per gallon fuel tax increase to support a $1.2 billion dollar bond issue. As has been stated, for the driver putting 20,000 miles per year on a vehicle averaging 22 mpg, this would result in a charge of about $1.25 per month (the price of a 20 ounce soft drink – one soft drink per month!) Henry County alone would have realized $10.2 million dollars from this program – known as ATRIP2. Our county engineer and his staff had already met with each individual commissioner to determine the roads in most need of work in each district. We were prepared to put out proposals as soon as the legislation was signed by Governor Ivey (who remains a strong supporter of this legislation.) We would have been one of the first counties in the state to begin shovel ready projects. In addition to providing relief for Henry County, 20% of the proceeds were earmarked for the four towns in our county – each mayor strongly supported the legislation. We were prepared to resurface 75 to 100 miles of roads in Henry County and its municipalities. This kind of program is well beyond our reach with today’s revenue. All of the local officials in our area went on record in support of this effort. And we were encouraged when the bill was finally scheduled for a floor vote.
So what happened? When that day came and the bill reached the floor of the House of Representatives in April, it was pulled before a vote could ever be taken. In the aftermath of our disappointment, the ACCA reported that the effort was unsuccessful for three reasons: First, the members of the Democratic Caucus in the House collectively led a filibuster and prevented a critical procedural vote (called the BIR) that is necessary to move a bill to the floor. Second, a group of north Alabama Republican legislators who ran on the platform of ‘no new taxes’ refused to support the bill despite its many accountability provisions. And, third, the mayors of Alabama’s five largest cities sought to change the established formula for distributing gas tax revenue because they wanted to shift more money into their cities.
These factors influenced a few (including some of our local legislators) to find reasons to step away from the bill when we had the opportunity to get it passed. Because of this, the citizens of Henry County are left right where we were this time last year when the 2016 session ended: driving on badly and quickly deteriorating roads with no money for repairs.
I’ve received four calls this morning (May 19th) from citizens complaining about the conditions of our roads (two of those calls were about County Road 55.) Three of the four callers stated that they would have gladly paid the small increase for improved roads. They expect and deserve accountability. And they would have gotten it. It was my plan to publish regular updates to publicize the roads that were to be resurfaced as well as the projected cost for each road. We would have then identified each month the road(s) that would have been the next ones to be resurfaced. EVERY PENNY of the new ATRIP2 funding would have gone to roads…no salary increases…no new equipment…all to roads that needed it most.
So what’s next? I personally believe this issue is too important to die simply because the session has ended. There’s the possibility of a special session being called this summer and the hope, if there is one, that Governor Ivey will place the infrastructure issue in her Call. If that happens I urge you to contact your legislator and enlist his support of this critical legislation. I know of no other answer. I welcome – no, encourage – anyone to show me a plan whereby we can resurface the roads you drive on every day without the resources to pay for it. Let’s get our heads out of the sand and do what’s needed in Henry County.
30 Day Update:
Dates to Remember:
“From the Eye of the Storm to the Hearts of the People”
By: David Money
Just before noon on April 5, 2017, the White Oak Creek area of north Henry County was hit by an EF-2 tornado. Sadly, there were at least nine homes destroyed and more than twenty others that received extensive damage – primarily in the Sunset Acres and Calhoun Drive areas. But we are grateful that there were no deaths or reported injuries. There are many people, churches and organizations to thank. At the risk of omitting some who have been a part of this effort, I’d like to mention a few. Henry County Engineer Chris Champion, EMA Director Ronnie Dollar and Sheriff Will Maddox and their staffs were on site immediately – clearing roads, securing the area, assessing damages and making sure that needs were being met. District Three County Commissioner Jay Calhoun and his family brought food to those involved. The Calhoun family and the Crawford Bush family offered their land to place the tons of trees and limbs that had to be removed from the storm damaged area. Calvary Baptist Church and the Henry County Court House made safe places available for those who didn’t have one. First Baptist Church paid for motel rooms for some of those temporarily displaced while Dale Ezzell and other members of the Abbeville United Methodist Church offered housing for volunteers who came in from out of state. Disaster teams from Ridgecrest Baptist in Dothan, Watermark Church in Ashford, the Judson Baptist Association and other churches from across the area have been there to help residents cut trees off their houses and take them to county road right of ways. Various power companies and other utility companies worked together to restore power and communication systems. Local volunteer fire departments from around the county were on site immediately and stayed as long as they were needed. Many groups from across the state either joined the effort or offered to do so.
Several of us toured the area with Alabama EMA Director Art Falkner the day after the tornado. The threshold for a federal declaration is $7M. The estimated damages fell far short of that number meaning that Henry County will bear the blunt of the expenses incurred in removing all the debris. Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver – as well as the Houston County Commission and their Road and Bridge Department – are to be thanked for sending men, trucks and equipment to assist us with the tons of debris that had to be removed. With a small road and bridge staff, we are limited with what can be done in other areas of the county while we tend to the immediate needs in the lake area. I thank you for your patience in regard to the needed road repairs in your area until we can get back on schedule.
In situations like these, it takes a well-coordinated effort from all involved as well as an understanding of the importance of communication and working together to make things better for all those affected. On behalf of the citizens of Henry County – and especially those residents who were directly affected by the storm – a very special ‘thank you’ to everyone who worked to make an unfortunate situation better. We are most appreciative of those who brought food for the residents and the workers, those who have given financially and all who have prayed for the welfare of those who were in the path of the tornado. It truly represents the giving spirit of the residents of Henry County and the Wiregrass region. Thank you.
30 Day Update:
Dates to Remember:
May 9, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Abbeville, AL – Due to the severe storm damage that occurred in northeast Henry County on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, the Henry County Road Department will be picking up tree and limb debris. Residents that live in Sunset Acres, which includes Lakeview Drive, Sunset Drive, Laurel Drive, Magnolia Street, Dogwood Circle, Hillcrest Drive and Holly Drive along with residents that live on Calhoun Drive may place tree and limb debris by the road for pickup. No household or demolition debris will be picked up.
The road department will make the final pass through the area the week of May 15th. Any debris left after May 15th will be the responsibility of the property owner.
Any questions concerning this may contact the Road Department at 334-585-2735.
“Everybody Needs One”
By: David Money
There are many ‘buzz’ words, phrases and texting acronyms floating around today: ‘fake news’ – ‘going forward’ – ‘at the end of the day’ – ‘LOL’ – ‘SMH’ – “BFF” and countless of others. There is another one that has been around awhile…but, in the past few years, is being used more and more: ‘mentor.’ With the traditional family structure having undergone a drastic change over the years, there are many single parent families with children in need of a father or mother figure. Fortunately, there are many organizations addressing those needs (Boys & Girls Clubs, church groups, civic clubs, etc.) Although it has been around for centuries, we hear the term ‘mentoring’ used more today than ever before.
For me, mentoring began 50 years ago this spring. Our parents had divorced and I was living with my grandparents in Shorterville. I had no plans to go to college until Uncle Lindy paid my tuition and told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to Wallace Junior College (now Wallace Community College) and play on its first baseball team. He and his brothers (Bob, Coy, Jimmy, Hawley, Knocker) always made sure that I had a summer job, a little ‘jingle’ in my pocket and nice cars to date on each weekend (Chevy Impala Super Sports with 327’s and floor shifts – this was before we got into the Ford business.) Once at Wallace, I met the first non-family mentor I ever had – Wallace Baseball and Basketball Coach Johnny Oppert. He knew my family situation and realized that I may not be running with high character guys. He and Mr. Jack Carr had offices in the gymnasium and mandated that I report to them every day. They found me things to do (like going across campus to get hot water for Mr. Carr’s ‘sea rations.’) Years later it became clear that Coach Oppert gave me those menial jobs just so he could keep an eye on me – and make sure I stayed out of trouble. On baseball trips, he often assigned me to room with him. I no doubt learned more about life from him during those two baseball seasons than at any other time in my life. He taught me to be make good decisions (and to take full responsibility for the bad ones I did make) – as well as to be accountable to others, to be respectful of authority and try to live a life of integrity.
Coach Oppert still lives in his home town of Dothan and is now approaching 80. Although he is battling some medical issues, he continues to have that great sense of humor as well as that intense competitive spirit. On March 11th, Wallace College honored the first baseball team. Eleven of the fifteen players on that 1967 team returned to be recognized and honored in a pre-game ceremony.
The highlight of the day for me was hearing those guys express the same feelings about Coach Oppert that I have. We talked of his leadership, his discipline, his teaching and obviously his coaching. He was a mentor to most of us. On that Saturday, he was asked to throw out the first pitch before the Wallace /Alabama Southern game. I reminded him that when George Bush threw out the first pitch in old Yankee Stadium after the 9-11 tragedy, Derek Jeter told the president, ‘Don’t bounce it.’ You might remember that President Bush fired a perfect strike. Last Saturday, I told Coach Oppert that if he needed to move up to about half way between the mound and home plate, we’d all understand. He looked at me and said, ‘Are you serious!’ He nailed it…right down the middle. We never doubted he would.
Mentoring is not easy. It requires time, patience, understanding…and you have to have a heart for it. It’s a calling…a spiritual gift. And it’s needed more now than ever. I hope we never pass on the opportunity to be one for someone else. We all need one…and I’m thankful that in 1967 there was one there for me.
30 Day Update:
• February probate activity was as follows: four wills probated, two involuntary commitments, one guardianship/conservatorship, one administration, one legitimation, three final settlements, six miscellaneous hearings and ten marriage licenses issued.
• Citizens with last names beginning with ‘C’ or ‘E’ have today and tomorrow to renew your tags without penalty. Those with last names beginning with ‘F’ – ‘G’ – ‘N’ will renew your tags in April.
• March 2-5 – I was very honored to serve with 100+ others (including 25 to 30 Henry County citizens) on Bethlehem Walk to Emmaus #31 – your participation and service is always encouraged.
• March 7 – Attended the Wallace College Foundation Board meeting. Dozens of Henry County students benefit each semester from scholarships provided by the Foundation. Please check out scholarship opportunities available at: www.wallace.edu/scholarships
• March 11 – It was a lot of fun joining a dozen other guys from the first Wallace baseball team (1967) for a pre-game ceremony at the college. The Wallace staff made it a special day for us.
• March 13 – met with Ronnie Davis and board members of the Wiregrass R.C. & D Council as they awarded $32,000.00 in grants to various Henry County agencies. They are very community-minded.
• March 18 – A family engagement prevented me from attending the groundbreaking for the new addition at Greater Shiloh Baptist Church in Headland. Delvick and Lori McKay, as well as their church family, are involved in many things to help the citizens of Henry County.
• March 22 – I attended the SARCOA Executive Committee and Board meetings in Dothan.
Dates to Remember:
• April 3 – Wiregrass legislative delegation at the Dothan Chamber office today.
• April 4 – I look forward to the Community Wide Prayer Breakfast at 7:30 in the Dothan Civic Center. The speaker will be former University of Alabama and New York Yankee baseball player, Andy Phillips. (‘Bama’ & ‘Yankee’ go together like peanut butter & jelly.)
• April 4 – Scott Farmer from SEARP&DC will host an 11:00 public meeting in the Probate Court Room. Subject: “Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan”
• April 6 – The Abbeville Chamber of Commerce will host students from the Henry County Youth Leadership Program at their noon luncheon today.
• April 6-9 – My favorite event on the sports calendar begins today – ‘The Master’s’ from Augusta National. That plus ‘The Final Four’ and the beginning of the major league baseball season are a few of the reasons that April (and October) are the two best sports months of the year.
• April 10 – Our Henry County Youth Leadership students will visit the Hyundai Assembly plant south of Montgomery – they will gain a better understanding of the world of robotics.
• April 11 – April Administrative meeting – 9:00 AM – Probate Court Room
• April 11 – April Commission meeting – 10:30 AM – Probate Court Room (Visit our meeting and have a chance to win a homemade pie.)
• April 14 – Good Friday
• April 16 – Easter Sunday
• April 17 – Headland Chamber Showcase – Headland Square – 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
• April 19 – The Henry County Youth Leadership students will visit the State House, the Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion today – this will be the final outing of the 2016/17 year.
• April 20 – Wallace College Foundation’s “Golf ‘Fore’ Scholarships” golf tournament at Highland Oaks in Dothan. Henry County student scholarships are funded through the efforts of the Foundation Board.
• April 24 – Confederate Memorial Day
• April 27/28 – The Alabama Probate Judges Association’s annual conference will be held at the Capstone Hotel and at the Alabama Law School in Tuscaloosa.
• April 27/30 – Bethlehem Walk to Emmaus #32 (Ladies Walk)