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Road commission continues projects, EMA receiving PPE

The Lowndes Highway Department is continuing its duties every day despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lowndes County Engineer David Butts spoke to the Lowndes County Commission during its teleconference meeting Tuesday and informed the members of the ongoing projects. Butts, who also serves as EMA director then addressed emergency supplies in Lowndes County.

“Right of way cutters are in District 2 and should be going into District 3 if the are not already there,” he told the Commission. “They should by on County Road 12, Pleasant Hill and they will come out on County Road 6. We’re still paving on several roads and trying to get that done every day that it is sunny. We’re doing as much as we possibly can.”

Butts told commissioners that the county’s boom cutter was once again in the shop, an issue they have faced before.

“I talked with Commissioner (Joseph) Bargainer the other day and I’m not really sure what is going on,” Butts said. “I also talked to Commissioner (Robert) Harris. The boom cutter had been in the shop and it was supposed to be ready. We brought it back in and worked with it for about an hour and the same thing started. We took it back up and told them they needed to stop the leak — because that’s what we brought it up there for. That’s where we’re at.”

Harris then addressed Butts and fellow commissioners about the boom cutter.

“We’re spending a lot of money on that tractor and we have been for quite some time,” he said. “We’re taking it to shops that either aren’t professional or don’t have the knowledge of what to do and we’re spending a large amount of money on that. I think one time before, we took it to Cullman and they fixed it. We just have to make sure we’re not throwing away money. We need to make sure we get it to somebody who can fix it.”

Harris then asked Butts how much had been spent to repair the equipment in the past year.

“I can’t give an exact figure, but I would say we’ve definitely had one or two times where it was definitely $5,000,” Butts said. “This also came up at the last commission meeting. I think we’re going to have to take it up to North Alabama.”

Butts said the difficulty was in repairing the boom, not the tractor itself. Harris said he was concerned with charges if the boom cutter was not fixed. He said he would investigate the matter and the charges and determine if it needs to be taken to North Alabama for repairs.

Butts also addressed emergency management issues in Lowndes County as EMA director.

“I’ve been sending reports to the commissioners when it changes drastically of the number of (COVID-19) cases we’ve had,” Butts said. “We’ve had one death so far that I’ve been informed of. The last report I got was that we had around 38 cases.”

Butts addressed the acquisition of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) for first responders.

“I have an order in for first responders including the sheriff’s department, volunteer fire departments and CARE Ambulance for those materials,” Butts said. “They will be in either this week or next week, but there is a shortage of those materials. We will get what is available. No county is getting everything they ask for, but we will get something.”

Butts said the first shipments had already arrived.

“The first shipments were for CARE Ambulance and the nursing home,” he told the commission. “This will be the will be the first shipment to try to help out the first responders.”