Robertsdale officials monitoring coronavirus cases


ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Officials in Robertsdale say they will be monitoring coronavirus cases and discussing ways to further prevent the spread of the disease after a number of cases were reported in the city over the last week.

At the July 6 council meeting, Police Chief Brad Kendrick, who also serves as public safety officer for the city, reported that he had received coronavirus numbers from the Alabama Department of Health for the month of June and the first week of July.

There were five cases reported in the month of June, Kendrick said, while there were already four cases reported between July 1 and July 6. Mayor Charles Murphy said between July 6 and July 13, there were an additional seven cases bringing the total number for July to 11. Murphy said they were expecting an update after press time on Monday, July 13.

“We want everyone in the city to know that we are taking this very seriously,” said Robertsdale Mayor Charles Murphy, “and we will do everything in our power to keep the people of Robertsdale safe.”

Murphy said that he and Kendrick will continue to monitor the number of cases reported in the city and if the number of cases continues to rise, will meet to discuss ways to further prevent the spread of the virus.

“I don’t know that there’s a lot that we’re not already doing,” Murphy said. “We could require the wearing of masks in confined public spaces and employ additional social distancing guidelines, but that’s about it.”

On Monday, July 13, Murphy said they are working with county and state health officials to set up an additional testing site at the First Baptist Church in Robertsdale.

“If everything continues as planned, that site should be open by Wednesday,” Murphy said. Plans are to move the testing site to the PZK Hall, which was being used as a polling place for run-off elections on Tuesday, July 14, and could not be utilized.

In other business July 6, the council voted to authorize city engineer Greg Smith to solicit bids for the installation of AMI meters for the city’s water system.

The council voted last May to approve a contract for engineering services with Civil Southeast for application, preparation, plan specification and bid services for materials, management and critical phase construction engineering and observation for the project.

Smith said the project will require two bids, one for materials and one for installation. Murphy said the $1.9 million project would be funded by a loan from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and would include a $400,000 loan forgiveness, meaning that the city would only have to pay back $1.5 million. In 2019, Murphy said the city will make payments over a 20-year period with a fixed interest rate of 2.2 percent.

The project would include the installation of 3,600 AMI meters for the city’s water system. It would also put the infrastructure in place for the future installation of AMI electrical meters and gas meters, in total about 7,000 meters.

Once installed, the meters would be tied to a central reading system, which would allow the city to read all the meters at once.

“This would be more of an IT project than an equipment installation project,” Smith said. He recently traveled to Troy to observe a similar system which had been installed there.

Alabama Power has also installed a similar system, Murphy said. Digital systems are also being planned in Spanish Fort and by Riviera Utilities in Foley, he said.

With the city looking to add a minimum of 1,000 meters of the next decade, Murphy said, switching to the AMI system will allow the city to keep costs down.

The council also passed a resolution at the July 6 meeting to authorize the submission to the Alabama Department of Transportation under the FY 2021 Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program for the proposed construction of sidewalks within the city.

The $800,000 grant project would include a 20 percent match from the city for the construction of sidewalks along Wilters, College and U.S. 90.

Murphy said the project will complete an overall project begun in the city in 1995 using what was then known as T.A.P. grants to build sidewalks in a loop around the city, filling in with additional grants through the years.

The council also passed a resolution July 6 to authorize senior activities director Amy Ochello to apply for a grant to purchase a new van for the George P. Thames Adult Activity Center.

The grant would provide up to $80,000 in funds to purchase the van, which would replace the oldest van used by the Adult Activity Center, a 2005 model, and would include a 20 percent match from the city ($16,000).

In other business July 6, the council:

•Authorized the Tenley Tough Foundation to host the Tenley Tough 5K fundraiser on Oct. 3.

•Received a tutoring camp update from coordinator Jill Parnell. The camp, which was extended this year from four to six weeks, includes 18 students ranging in age from 5 to 12 years, Parnell said.

•Received a request from Murphy asking to consider locations for a plaque which will be installed in honor of longtime Robertsdale resident Rex Aldridge. A date for the dedication of the plaque has been set for Sept. 21, Murphy said.

•Agreed to purchase a full-page color ad in the 2020-21 Central Baldwin Chamber Magazine at a cost of $2,500.

•Approved a resolution setting election officials for the Aug. 25 municipal election and the Oct. 6 municipal run-off, if necessary.

•Received word from Murphy that the town would be purchasing a new bucket truck for the electric department at a cost of $156,300, which is under the budgeted amount of $160,000 for the purchase.

•Received word that St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and School will host Wild Irish Night on Saturday, Aug. 22. The event was originally scheduled for March.

Murphy also announced that employee service awards would be handed out following the July 20 8 a.m. council meeting.