Category: Government

JeffCo to Spend $200K to Set Up COVID Testing and Vaccination Site in the Cutoff

The Jefferson County Commission on Thursday approved spending $200,000 in relief funds to establish a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site to service the Bessemer Cutoff area.

Commissioners subsequently approved a resolution for additional testing/vaccination sites as recommended by the Jefferson County Department of Health.

“We want to make sure that testing is available throughout Jefferson County and that the citizens are best served by the actions of the commission,” said President Jimmie Stephens, who represents the Cutoff. “We want to make sure that if they want to be tested, if they want a vaccination, there is a convenient testing site where they can get to.”

Stephens said the county serves many residents, some of whom are affirmed. He said mass testing sites may be a 20- or 30-minute drive for some residents. Read more.

Birmingham Council Eyes Redrawing District Lines

The city of Birmingham has hired a local consulting service to review and potentially redraw City Council district lines in accordance with 2020 census data.

When the city opted to shift to single-member districts in 1989 — meaning that each district is represented by a specific councilor and school board member — it included a provision ensuring that the districts would be responsive to changes in census data so that the populations of each district would remain roughly equal.

“If you’ve got unequal districts, the weight of one person’s vote in a smaller district bears a heavier weight than if you’ve got a very large district,” assistant city attorney Julie Barnard told councilors Tuesday. “The goal is to try to get the population between districts as balanced as possible. That’s the primary thing driving this.” Read more.

COVID Stalls Storm Shelters; JeffCo Commission Discusses Road Projects on Grants Mill, Lakeshore

COVID-19 is known to make people sluggish. It has had the same effect on some storm shelter projects in Jefferson County.

Commissioners today moved to the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting in Bessemer a resolution to extend for 365 days a contract with Williford Orman Construction LLC to build storm shelters in Graysville, Bagley and Glenwood. These storm shelters will be paid for through the county’s general fund.

“It’s really been two things,” said Frederick L. Hamilton, director of the county’s Department of Community Services and Workforce Development, “the supply chain delay in getting materials as well as staff, some of their staff catching COVID and not being able to work at full speed because of COVID.” Read more.

Bham Council Approves $500,000 in BOLD Funding, Sets Legislative Priorities and Pledges In-Kind Services to Support USFL

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve more than $500,000 in grant funding for five local nonprofits as part of the city’s Building Opportunities for Lasting Development initiative. Mayor Randall Woodfin launched the BOLD program in 2018 as a mechanism for distributing city funds to local nonprofit and economic development organizations.

The council also voted on its legislative agenda. At the top of the list for councilors is expanding the city’s number of entertainment districts from five to 15. It also approved $500,000 in in-kind services to the new United States Football League, which this year will be playing its entire season in Birmingham, including eight to 11 games at Legion Field. Read more.

Shades of Gray? Not When It Comes to Bingo in Jefferson County

The Jefferson County Commission today denied a rezoning request for a private club in Corner, suspecting that the establishment would be used for bingo.

“The applicant wasn’t here but we kind of got a little birdie telling us that may be a bingo hall,” Commissioner Joe Knight said after the meeting. “We don’t want bingo halls. We’ve got plenty. We don’t need all the bingo halls where these cities are passing ordinances prohibiting them coming to the county.”

Knight said some may have viewed unincorporated Jefferson County as a gray area beyond the jurisdiction of cities that have expressly forbidden bingo businesses.

“We don’t want to be the gray area and we need to tighten that up a little bit with our ordinances as far as what we allow and what we do,” Knight said. Read more.

BJCC Will Open as Warming Station Thursday and Friday

The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex will open to the public as a warming station Thursday and Friday, when the temperatures are forecast to fall into the 20s, the city of Birmingham announced Wednesday.

The announcement came after the city faced criticism for not opening Boutwell Auditorium earlier this week as snow fell and temperatures dipped below freezing. Mayor Randall Woodfin in a statement said Boutwell Auditorium was “unavailable,” although the city has not revealed why. Read more.

Jefferson County Commission Kicks Staff Out of Meeting as COVID Rages Across the Community

UPDATED with request to avoid emergency departments for tests or minor symptoms. Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens opened the commission committee meeting Tuesday by sending department heads and staff out of the room to guard against the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

“It’s a reminder for those people that we need to continue to practice social distancing,” Stephens said after the meeting.

The commission president cited reports that cloth face masks are not the most effective in protecting against the spread of the omicron variant.

“You need to do a KN95 or an N95 mask, if indeed you feel at risk,” Stephens said. “The main thing to do is to practice your social distancing because if the masks are proved ineffective, the only other tool we have if we’re going to come to work is … either management needs to supply everyone with KN95 or N95 masks or we need to practice social distancing.

“I pretty much told staff through the county manager that they should be on Zoom or be virtual,” he said, “and let the commission tend to the business of the commission.”

Stephens’ comments came as omicron rages across the state. Alabama reached a record 38.5% positivity rate Tuesday as another 7,562 new cases were reported and 41 new deaths.

Jefferson County contributed 1,501 of those cases and four of the deaths, and the positivity rate broke 40% for the first time.

In total, 921,175  Alabamians have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. Every county in the state is classified as being at high risk of community transmission of the virus. Read more.

Also read:
COVID Surge Continues, Could Peak in Mid- to Late-January