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John Soules Food construction to take longer than anticipated

It appears John Soules Food won’t be open and operating as quickly as once thought.

Chambers County Attorney Skip McCoy announced during Monday night’s commission meeting that the company had asked for an extension on its construction. The commission ultimately decided to approve extending construction on the new 266,000-square-foot facility until Oct. 1, 2021.

“I think that is probably going to work well because there are so many moving parts not only with the county and John Soules Food but also with East Alabama,” McCoy said at the commission meeting on Monday. “That would be a prudent decision that the commission should consider being on board with. I think all the other entities are.”

The first resolution on the commission’s agenda was a request to enter an agreement with the Governor’s Local Workforce Area and the Family Guidance Center of Alabama.

The program is designed to provide temporary disaster-relief jobs to people that are out of work due to COVID-19. Workers would be able to work 30 hours a week up to 290 hours in the program’s entirety.

The commission also discussed a resolution to enter into an agreement with the Alabama Workforce Development Area and the Family Guidance Center of Alabama, which is for anyone ages 17 to 24.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity to give the young people the opportunity to get some type of work experience, and it would also help the county out as well,” Chambers County Commission Manager Regina Glaze said.

Both were unanimously approved by the commission.

The commission also had a resolution put in front of them by Chambers County Highway Engineer Josh Harvill to co-sponsor a grant application from the cities of Lanett and Valley.

The grant would be for lighting improvements off exit 79, providing lights between the exit and the welcome center, which will open in early 2021. It would also improve the signal on the exit for those taking the exit.

“Exit 79 has been described as one of the worst lit exits in the state of Alabama,” Commissioner Sam Bradford said. “It’s our gateway into the state of Alabama off the interstate.”

The total cost for the project is expected to be $2.563 million, and the lighting would be upgraded to LED lights. The project would be funded through an ATRIP grant, which wouldn’t affect the county’s gas tax funds and federal funds. The ATRIP grant would be for $1.261 million. The proposal would also propose the state to supplement $1.181 million in federal interstate maintenance funds.

The commission would have a $120,000 match from the 106 fund, which is used for economic development. The city of Valley would pay for the electricity for the stoplights indefinitely, while Lanett will provide maintenance to the stoplights.

Harvill also put a resolution in front of the commission to sell four Kenworth T-800 Dump Trucks. Two are 2019 models while the other two are 2020 models.

The county would replace two of the trucks since the commission bought four trucks back in March.

“We planned to rotate our whole fleet,” Harvill said.

“We planned to sell two trucks in the March auction and two trucks in the June auction. We purchased four trucks in March to prepare for that, then COVID-19 happened, so we held our two trucks that would have been sold in June. I’m hesitant to replace our whole fleet when we have a little bit of uncertainty with the market right now.”

The two new trucks that the commission would purchase are a Kenworth T-800 and a Kenworth T-880. The two trucks will also need two bodies to be put on them.