Dissatisfied over CARTS services, Sevita employee sounds off at County Commission work session

Sharon Ferguson of Sevita discussing her clients' transportation needs (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Commission met for their monthly meeting on Thursday evening to cover a robust agenda.

During the preceding work session, the commissioners and all in attendance heard from retired Cullman County teacher Sharon Ferguson, now employed by Sevita, a national agency dedicated to health care in both homes and community. Until recently, the company was known as The MENTOR Network.

Ferguson aired her grievances on the lack of community transportation available for the clients in the Cullman County homes she oversees, while noting that each of the homes she oversees has a van available. The single van per home is not adequate to meet the residents’ needs, Ferguson shared.

When asked by Commissioner Garry Marchman if the lack of availability was solely the result of a lack of resources, CARTS Director Joyce Echols responded that they are currently down eight drivers for the community transportation service and working diligently to fill the void.

“We need to hire about eight drivers and, as of right now, the last busses that we ordered in 2021, we’ve got seven of the 14. They said it will be at least two years out before we get the others. We just need drivers,” explained Echols.

During the regular meeting, Echols showed a video of the CARTS service and the positive impact it has made on people in the community.

The possibility of purchasing an automated train track switch for Sportsman Lake Park was also discussed during the work session.

In the regular session, the commission heard from Judy Snead of Snead’s Farmhouse, a 501c3 educational farm in the West Point area. Snead offered her services to provide care for injured ducks from Sportsman Lake Park.

Snead asked the commission for permission to raise the rest of the funds needed to provide her services by putting up a booth at the lake and to advertise the fundraising efforts on the lake’s Facebook page. Snead assured the commission that she would take on all responsibilities with the ducks’ care.

The commission thanked its newest members, Kelly Duke and Corey Freeman, for attending and recognized the Road Department’s Phillip Batemon who is retiring after 18 years of service with the county.

In other business, the commission approved and/or opened the following:

  • “Resolution 2022-51: Authorize the chairman to accept the offer of financial assistance in the amount of $365,142.12 through the Recreation Trails Program project 21-RT-55-01 for bridge replacement and trail rehabilitation at Stony Lonesome OHV Park and authorize the chairman to start the bidding process
  • Resolution 2022-52: Award bid to Ameriseal of Ohio, Inc. for Taxiway Pavement Maintenance at the Cullman Regional Airport in the amount of $142,504.50
  • Resolution 2022-53: Library Personnel inclusion in County Payroll System
  • Public Hearing – CARTS Operations for FY 2023
  • Resolution 2022-54: Authorize Local Matching Funds for CARTS FY 2023 and authorize Chairman to sign all related paperwork
  • Resolution 2022-55: Authorize the filing of 5311 grant application for CARTS and authorize Chairman to sign all paperwork
  • Resolution 2022-56: Change speed limit to 15 mph on County Road 713
  • Resolution 2022-57: Post “No thru Trucks” on County Road 623
  • Authorize Chairman Clemons to sign the Alabama Department of Youth Services Agency Grant Agreement for FY 2022-2023 in the amount of $153,888 as the fiscal agent for Lauderdale County
  • Authorize EMA Director Tim Sartain to apply for grant in the amount of $25,000 with the Alabama Department of Public Health to purchase supplies or equipment for the State Mortuary Operations Response Team and sign all related paperwork
  • Authorize the purchase of a Blue Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) through CCCDC grant in the amount of $11,146 and authorize the coroner to sign all related paperwork
  • Consider approval of advertising space on Smith Lake Park signs and authorize Chairman to sign all related documents
  • Consider appointing Kerry Watson to the ACCA Legislative Committee
  • Consider approval of the Samba Safety contract to provide CDL training to Cullman County Employees and authorize Chairman Clemons to sign all related documents
  • Consider the purchase of a 2023 Freightliner M2-106 grapple truck for the Road Department in the amount of $231,367.41 and authorize the Chairman to sign all related paperwork
  • Consider authorization for Cullman Caring for Kids to use the Board of Education parking lot to host a Car Show on November 12, 2022, from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Ratify payment of landfill charges from the May 2022 Clean-Up program – $22,075.43
  • Ratify signature on agreement to sell previously approved 2019 CAT PM310 Milling Machine for Water Department
  • Ratify insolvents, errors and taxes in litigation for 2021 and uncollected insolvents and taxes in litigation for previous years for the Cullman County Revenue Office and authorize Chairman to sign
  • Bid #1395: Award bid option #2 to Willoughby Roofing and Sheet Metal, Inc. to complete re-roofing project for 402 Arnold St property in the amount of $131,400
  • Bid #1397: Award bid to Mitch Smith Chevrolet for a 2020 full-size SUV for Probate in the amount of $37,900
  • Bid #1398: Award bid to Trip Master for Dispatch Software and first year annual maintenance and support for CARTS in the amount of $56,555
  • Big #1399: Award big to Terry Sligh Chevrolet for one or more 4×4 crew cab trucks for the Water Department in the amount of $56,568.50

The next meetings will be held on Tuesday, July 19 in the Commission Meeting Room at the Cullman County Courthouse. The work session begins at 4:00 p.m. and the regular meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.

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