The Jackson County Commission discussed a change to the county’s emergency alert system as well as a possible grant through the Rebuild Alabama Act that would assist in paving County Road 47.

Paul Smith, director of the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, presented the council with a proposal to switch the county’s emergency alert system contract from Code Red to Civic Ready. The switch would potentially save the County $6,000 per year, while offering new features and accessibility for residents and the EMA.

“We’re always trying to do more with less,” said Smith when discussing the system at the recent commission meeting. “We’re also trying to give the citizens of Jackson County more bang for their buck.”

The city has had a contract with Code Red to operate the current system for roughly 14 to 15 years, according to Smith.

The new system would allow individuals to change phone numbers and carriers and continue to be enrolled in the program, something that Smith noted had become a major problem with the current system utilized by the county. As they are currently unable to offer this functionality.

Smith also noted that there has become issues with how up to date the system is and to do so would require a complete system purge.

The new system would also save EMA workers valuable time in an emergency setting.

The new system would allow weather alerts to be automatically posted to the County’s Facebook page. Smith noted that many of the County’s citizens now get their weather information through social media and adding this functionality would allow for more people to see information faster.

“We’re not only looking at a cost savings,” noted Smith “but we’re looking at more functionality.”

The county’s contract with Code Red currently runs until June.

Smith hopes that the county would be able to purchase a subscription to the new service that would start in January of 2021 and would run concurrently with the old system until their contract with Code Red expires in June 2021.

He noted that this would allow for a smooth transition for both the Jackson County EMA and for citizens who are currently enrolled in the program.

A proposal by the County Engineer, Johnathan Campbell, was presented to the Commission for a potential grant application.

The proposed application would seek $250,000 from the Rebuild Alabama Act funds that are available to be applied for at the beginning of each fiscal year. The proposal would include the resurfacing of County Road 47. The road was last resurfaced in 2007.

In total, the project would cost approximately $464,000.

Campbell noted that the road is on the borderline between needing to be completely repaved versus what is acceptable to continue preserve the current asphalt. If the road deteriorated to the point of needed to be completely repaved, he estimated that the project would cost roughly double at $837,000.

At the end of the meeting during department reports Rocky Harnen, chief deputy for the Jackson County Sherriff’s Department, mentioned that the department had recently been able to hire enough deputies to become fully staff. He also mentioned that there were issues with keeping the County Jail staffed.

“It’s hard to keep people,” said Harnen, adding that the Jail’s staff had an employee who quit that day.

The Jackson County Commission will hold its next meeting on Oct. 26.

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