Clerk to buy voting machines from Jackson County, county approves hires

by Kate Shunney

The Morgan County Commission approved the purchase of 30 touch screen voting machines from Jackson County during a December 19 commission meeting. The county will pay $4,700 for the machines and two racks to store them.

County Clerk Kim Nickles said Jackson County is upgrading their machines and was willing to sell their old models for $150 each. They are the same machines Morgan County uses for voting.

County officials passed up federal matching funds for brand new machines earlier this year, saying they weren’t prepared to spend more than $100,000 to replace the county’s functioning machines with a new model.

The county will pay for the touch screen units out of carryover funds. Nickles said they will serve as replacements for any Morgan County units that fail. The current touch screen voting machines are 10 years old.

New county hires

County officials approved the hire of two full-time 911 dispatchers and one part-time dispatcher on December 19.

Acting 911 Director Sarah Hogbin said the hires will put the center at full capacity.

Commissioners also approved the hiring of Gary Kendall as the county’s full-time Animal Control director, effective December 10, at a salary of $27,000 plus benefits. Kendall has been working as a per diem Animal Control officer with the county. He replaces Stephanie Nichols, who left the post to become director of the county’s new Day Report Center.

Commissioners also approved a request from Sheriff K.C. Bohrer to hire an additional bailiff for Morgan County court security. He said seven part-time officers aren’t able to cover all court functions.

Silica water line options

Commission President Joel Tuttle told county officials that he was part of a recent meeting at the Economic Development Office regarding a leaking water line at U.S. Silica. Tuttle said he, Bath mayor Scott Merki, EDA Director Daryl Cowles, public sewer manager Scott Crunkleton and commissioner-elect Sean Forney discussed a leaking water line north of the sewer plant that could impact the public water supply.

“If there was another leak or a fire, there might not be enough water,” said Tuttle.

Cowles said the water line starts at the sewer plant and runs 3-4,000 feet north.

“It’s a private water like that probably should have been public,” he said.

Cowles said the Economic Development Authority would be interested in having that line become a public utility to serve the area, which will include a natural gas line, rail-trail and a future Fairview Connector road. He said the former sandmine campus now includes several other entities served by the line, including the senior center and STS International.

Cowles and Tuttle said there had been some discussion about the EDA or county replacing the leaking line and making it part of a public utility.