Lee Co. turns down funding for autopsy transportation

By Chris Vessell bio | email

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - A recent decision by the Alabama Department of Forensic Science to pass autopsy transportation fees to county governments didn't sit well with commissioners on Monday night. "I'm kind of surprised the Lee County Commission didn't act positively on my request. So I'm back on the drawing board now to fix the problem," Bill Harris, Lee County Coroner said.

To make up for the state no longer providing the funding, Harris is proposing that the county provide $2500 to pay for the transportation fees. Harris asked for the same amount from the cities of Opelika and Auburn, receiving approval from both.

However, the County Commission denied Harris his funding request Monday night. "I'm going to see what the Sheriff and I can come up with, and we'll address it then and we may have to go back and ask them again," Harris said.

Meanwhile, in another issue on the meeting's agenda, the county commission is requesting that citizens give feedback as they form a comprehensive plan to manage the county's growth. "We're going to be the third county in the state to do this, and because Lee County is a fast growing community and county, we felt we really needed to get this done," Wendy Swan, Lee County Government Relations Coordinator said.

The county commission has approved $225,000 for a consultant to conduct focus groups made up of tax-paying citizens who will weigh in on where they see the county going. "We're going to look at transportation, infrastructure, housing, parks and recreation, open space, so just everything to do with the county," Swan said.

"It's going to help address our future growth needs that we have especially with BRAC coming in," Swan added. The consultant firm, Goodwin, Mills and Caewood are expected to complete their consultation a year from now.

The Lee County Commission is requesting that the public share their input at meetings to be held at local schools sometime in March. News Leader 9 will provide you with the latest information as those dates are scheduled.

The commission also annexed Smiths Station High School as city property as requested by the City of Smiths Station. The school had originally been annexed as county territory. The Lee County school system deeded the land over to the county so that the county could issue bonds on the school system's behalf.

"So for the school to actually be included in the corporate limits of Smiths Station, the county commission would actually have to be the one to petition the City of Smiths Station the request to be annexed in," Roger Rendleman, county administrator said before the meeting. The county commission approved the annexation along with a Smiths Station park that was outside the city limits as well.