Jefferson County Commission

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

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens in Jan. 20, 2022 meeting. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

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.

“It’s our intention to make sure that there is a convenient site near where they live,” Stephens said.

The location of the new testing and vaccination site will be determined by the Health Department, County Manager Cal Markert said, and the county will cover the cost of labor and materials and whatever else is needed.

“I think it’s important to try to do it quickly,” he said.

Commissioners talked about the need for more testing/vaccination sites in northern Jefferson County and remote locations in the west. County Attorney Theo Lawson offered a resolution to approve spending for more sites.

Those sites, like the one in Midfield or Bessemer, will be paid through American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“They were talking about considering other testing sites. They discussed that but they didn’t pass a resolution,” Lawson said. The commission would have to vote later to pay for any other sites, depending on where the health department deems them necessary.

“This expanded the ability of the health department to initiate those places where they saw fit at an amount to be determined at (the commission’s) next meeting,” Lawson said.

Jefferson County Public Information Officer Helen Hays. 1.20.22 (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

On another COVID matter, the Emergency Management Agency has reinstituted its Joint Information Command. Helen Hays, the public information officer of Jefferson County, is part of that entity, which resumed its regular meetings as the omicron variant began to spread.

“It’s just to inform the public of what is available to them and make sure they have the information they need so they can get tested if they want or if they haven’t had a vaccination, they can go and get vaccinated,” Hays said. “It’s really just about the sharing of information and making sure everybody knows what’s out there.”

Fetch Rewards Development

Commissioners approved 39 resolutions that were vetted during their committee meeting this week. Those resolutions included a development project agreement with Fetch Rewards Inc.

The software company based out of Madison, Wisconsin, will establish 200 new jobs at its location in Birmingham’s Parkside District. Those jobs will have an average wage of $80,000 a year.

The county will provide its regular tier job incentive based on the level of wage for which the county gets a return. That incentive will last three years, capped at $300,000.

According to a statement released Thursday, Fetch Rewards, a shopping rewards app, will invest more than $1 million to open a new office facility and customer-support hub in Birmingham. The new office will be completed this spring.

Fetch already is hiring for a variety of positions, including support, data integrity, engineering, product and fraud.

“With Fetch continuing to grow exponentially, Birmingham is the perfect place to launch the next chapter of our expansion,” CEO and founder Wes Schroll said in the release. “It’s an up-and-coming technology and entrepreneurship hub with an incredible pool of local talent. We deeply appreciate the warm welcome we’ve received from state and county officials, and we’re so excited to be part of this community.”

This story has been changed to correct the identification of Helen Hays.