Jefferson County Commission

Almost Ripe: Major Projects May Come to Fruition This Year, County Manager Says

County Manager Cal Markert speaks to the Jefferson County Commission (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Joe Knight had kind words for County Manager Cal Markert, his staff and county department heads as the Jefferson County Commission’s committee meeting neared its end today.

“All these people have put in the hard work on this,” Knight said. “I think you’ve got a good vision. I think you’re trying to pursue that vision. I know it’s a hard job. This isn’t easy stuff to do. It’s meticulous and it’s time consuming.”

Knight’s acknowledgement came after Markert listed several long-awaited projects that could this year come to fruition. Those projects include:

  • The animal care and control facility.
  • The youth detention facility.
  • The extension of Lakeshore Drive to Morgan Road, for which design work is nearly complete.
  • The purchase of rights of way to start work on North Chalkville Road in Trussville.
  • Improvements to Morgan Road in McCalla, which is under construction and getting closer to being finished.
  • The widening of Grants Mill Road in Irondale.

“There’s just going to be a lot going on this year and we’re excited,” Markert said. “Many of these projects take a couple of years to just do the planning and getting all the plans and specifications and all that kind of stuff done. It’s been a tremendous amount of work from all the county employees. It’s just good to see us working together and making things happen.”

During the meeting, Markert presented a resolution to create an economic development position that would operate out of his office.

Steve Ammons chairs the commission’s economic development committee and his chief of staff, Othell Phillips, had led that effort. Phillips recently left Ammons’ staff to become executive director of the Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority. Markert said now seemed to be the right time to shift that responsibility, but commissioners asked him to tweak his request.

“They want to make sure they see and understand the job description and the duties, and rightfully so,” the county manager said. “What I see is we’ll take the goals the commission may have for economic development, their policies, and we’ll try to implement and perform the goal. We’ll keep the economic development projects organized, keep the data points moving, make sure nothing gets dropped and that kind of thing and keep everybody informed properly.”

Commissioners moved to the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting resolutions to hire B.L. Harbert International, LLC to be the project manager for the youth detention center and animal care and control facility.

Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

“We’ve got the plans so we’re getting ready to go,” Knight said of the animal control facility. “We’re getting ready to turn loose on that. We’ve got some road work to do before we can actually start on the building itself, but we’re getting everything ready and it’s still on go.”

Commissioners tabled a resolution to designate Film Birmingham, the local office of the Alabama Film Office, as the primary point of contact for entities wishing to film in Jefferson County.

The panel also moved to Thursday’s agenda a resolution to approve new Planning and Zoning Commission districts.