August 20, 2014 10:50:02 AM
VERNON, Ala. -- Years of water leaking and collecting underneath sections of Vernon City Hall have created a quagmire for the city council: rotted fascia boards, weakened floor and walls, and a variety of options to address them.
The Vernon City Council discussed the matter at length Monday during its bi-monthly meeting, ultimately deciding to reverse a previous decision to open bids for renovation of a section of the library until the council drafts a comprehensive plan that addresses long-term solutions to the multiple areas of City Hall plagued by water damage.
"We don't know how long it's been like this," said Mayor Glenn Crawford, noting the difference in appearance of several walls and windows. "I don't ever remember seeing those windows like that before. But the rot is old. I'm not worried about the floor, but if that wall moves in any further, it's not going to hold that roof. Right now is a good time to start planning what we want to do, how much we want to spend."
The council heard a report from local contractor Ricky Merchant, who recently rectified a leak in the city's auditorium and, while there, inspected the rest of the plagued areas. Merchant detailed deficiencies in the complex's roof -- not including a tin roof recently constructed above the school -- which includes a rotted seal that will "keep leaking...it's going to get worse," he said.
"It hasn't sloped, but it's currently gravel and tar," Merchant said. "I'm not sure how many years since (the gravel and tar) has been put on there, but it needs to be addressed. Any contractor can fix it, but when damage is on top and bottom...it's down to the foundation, I can promise you that."
Merchant estimated a new roof could cost the city $35,000.
"The floor joists have set on the brick, which has allowed concrete under the window to sink. We've had water under it for past 15 years," Crawford said. "Question is, if we start jacking up the floor, you gotta brace it and get the wall back where it's supposed to be, then hope the roof stays in place. It's gonna take some money and time to do this."
The council previously approved advertising bid specs -- without plumbing or materials -- for the renovation of a corner of the city's library, which included two rooms and bathrooms. Crawford estimated the renovations would cost between $75,000 and $100,000.
Crawford said the city has cash to put toward repairs, but without knowing the full extent of repairs and the short and long-term solutions, the city should be cautious on agreeing a plan of action.
The complex is home to Vernon Elementary School, an auditorium, a museum and a genealogy room.
In other business, the council:
■ Unanimously approved the hirings of Greg Graham, patrol officer, at a salary of $13.25 an hour and Marty Gottwald, patrol officer/investigator at a salary of $13.50 an hour; the retirement filing of assistant Vernon Police chief Cecil Chaffin; the promotion of Davey Eaves to assistant chief at a $.60 per-hour raise; the promotion of Steve Thompson to lieutenant and training coordinator at a $.45 per-hour raise. Thompson's new role will allow Vernon officers to receive most state and federal level training in Vernon, which will save the city travel costs and allow officers from other jurisdictions to train at Vernon.
1. Councilman Turner responds to AG opinion COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Camp Rising Sun: A community treasure COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. Higgins: $150 million project eying Lowndes Port COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY