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December 25, 2013

County officials drop case against contractor accused of breaching animal shelter contract

After already being out $15,000 and additional money paid to a private investigator, the Cullman County Commission has decided to stop pursuing a contractor for alleged faulty flooring at the county animal shelter.

On Monday, commissioners agreed to “cut their losses and move on” after the county’s efforts to track down Tim Austin, owner of Austin Contracting, for the past year have been unsuccessful. County Attorney Heath Meherg said the county paid Tim Austin Contracting $15,000 to seal the concrete floor at the animal shelter, however it soon began to flake and peel afterwards.

“We filed a civil case against him for breach of contract and hired a private investigator to try to track him down so we could serve him documents,” Meherg said. “He was originally based out of Florence but apparently he then worked out of Nashville for a while, possibly as a contractor for TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority). We also found out he may be somewhere in Scottsboro now, but we just aren’t sure. It’s a matter of how much more money do we want to pour into this?”

With no further action on the case, the civil case was placed on the county courts’ administrative docket and ultimately dismissed. Estimates to repair the floor and reseal it properly came in around $30,000, Meherg said.

“This has been going on for some time, so I think instead of continuing to spend more money on it, let’s just drop it,” said Associate Commissioner Darrell Hicks.

Added Associate Commissioner Stanley Yarbrough: “Let’s just move on.”

Meherg said although commission voted to drop issue Monday, it could decide to pursue the case again at any time.

In other business the Cullman County Commission:

 Approved minutes from Dec. 10 meeting, appropriations, expenditures, requisitions and all journal entries to be posted.

 Accepted $1,294,892 grant through Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) for repairs to  county roads 1518 and 38 which were damaged by heavy trucks hauling debris after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes.

 Approved contract with Huntsville’s Community Consultants to perform ADECA grant administrative services. ADECA requires a consultant on federal community development block grants (CDBG).

 Approved contract with Albertville’s CDG Engineers for all construction engineering and inspection services for road repairs. ADECA requires an engineer on CDBG-funded projects.

 Approved $500 to Brushy Pond Community Center for polling maintenance and operational support.

 Extended bid to Helena Chemical in Tanner for herbicide. The company was the low-bidder last year, and its rate will remain the same for 2014.

 Ratified the following personnel actions: Rodney Hood and Jeramiah Howe were both promoted in the sanitation department and Douglas M. Key was recently hired by the sheriff’s department to work in the detention center. Additionally, the commission approved realigning the sanitation department’s job classifications for collector from grade 2 to grade 3 and for residential CDL driver from grade 4 to grade 5 upon Sanitation Department Manager James Rollo’s recommendation.

 All county offices will be closed Wednesday for Christmas and Wednesday, Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day.

The commission will hold a work session 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14 followed by its meeting at 10 a.m.

Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at towens@cullmantimes.com or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.

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