Jefferson County Commission

Tyson Says JeffCo Not Getting ‘Most Bang for Its Buck’ for TWG 2022; Knight Expects Budget Shortfall

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

Sheila Tyson said Jefferson County hasn’t gotten “the most bang for its buck” from The World Games 2022. She expressed that sentiment as she and other commissioners met this morning at the Bessemer Justice Center.

Tyson said Commissioner Joe Knight, the commission’s representative to The World Games, should have been more prominently used, perhaps during the Opening Ceremony last week or the Closing Ceremony set for Sunday.

Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

“We have just as much money (invested in The World Games) as the city has,” Tyson said. “I feel like Commissioner Knight should have at least been able to speak at the Opening and the Closing Ceremony.

“The bid came from the city; I understand that. I totally get that,” she said. “But it don’t look like it’s a Birmingham city and Jefferson County effort. I would like for it to look more like that by letting Commissioner Knight speak at least.”

Following the meeting, Knight said it was disappointing to hear what Tyson said, adding that he will speak with Nick Sellers, the CEO of The World Games. He is concerned about a small group of people who need to be acknowledged, perhaps during the Closing Ceremony.

“There are some of us on that executive committee that have been involved a lot longer than anybody else,” he said. “I would like to see them get some kind of recognition. It’ just a handful but we’ve been dealing with it for seven, eight, nine years. I’d like to see them have some kind of recognition, but I’ll speak with Sellers about that.

“Ain’t nobody making a quarter,” Knight said. “It’s totally volunteer what that committee has done.”

The commission’s liaison to The Games said he expects there to be “somewhat of a gap” in funding for TWG2022.

“I don’t know what a number would be,” he said. “How do we close it? We’ll address it. Why it’s over budget? Who knows?”

Knight noted that the original bid was $75 million to put on the 10-day event. The budget was ultimately pared down to around $60 million.

“Do we have the $60 million? I don’t think so, but that will remain to be seen when all the things are done,” he said. “We’ve had to refund tickets because we oversold breakdancing. We had to refund 300 tickets because there was no room to put that many people. How do you anticipate that?”

Knight said a sellout for Team USA’s victory in the gold medal softball game Wednesday night at the Hoover Met “was just a big feature in our cap.”

“Overall, the feedback is tremendous,” he continued. “We were so afraid. How will the community accept this? How will it turn out? It is a big, big undertaking to do the logistics, to get athletes where they need to be, to deal with COVID again, to deal with food issues.

“For the most part, we’re getting positive feedback from those athletes, especially at UAB.”

Road and Bridge Repairs

During the meeting, the commission held a public hearing and then approved issuing a limited obligation warrant for series 2022 of the Alabama Transportation Infrastructure Bank. The funds allow the county to maintain and construct bridges and roadways.

Frank H. Long Jr., a partner with Balch & Bingham LLP, talks to Jefferson County commissioners. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

“The Alabama Transportation Infrastructure Bank was developed for this very reason, to issue debt and turn around and loan it to counties and municipalities in the state,” Frank H. Long Jr., a partner with Balch & Bingham LLP, said. “In exchange for the loan, the county is going to issue one warrant … to evidence the amount of that loan … to document the loan.”

The warrant totals $69,435,000 and addresses 12 projects that include:

  • Widening Morgan Road to five lanes and realigning Lakeshore at Alabama 150 for $15 million.
  • Widening Grants Mill Road from two lanes to four lanes from Old Leeds Road to I-459 for $14.27 million.
  • Widening McShan Road and interchange Phases I and II for $11.7 million.
  • Widening North Chalkville Road from I-59 to Woodland Circle for $9.3 million.
  • Widening Carson Road at key intersections to include two side-road alignments for $8.5 million.

The commission also approved spending more than $1.4 million in federal Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act funds. That money is allocated to Jefferson State Community College and The Dannon Project for occupational training and work-based learning programs, working with the county’s office of Workforce Development for the Central Alabama Partnership for Training and Employment training program that covers Blount, Chilton, Shelby, St. Clair, Walker and Jefferson counties.

Commissioners changed the location of their July 28 meeting to the commission chambers of the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Birmingham. The panel was to have had its next meeting in Bessemer, but County Attorney Theo Lawson said today’s meeting in Bessemer fulfills the county’s obligation to meet in Bessemer quarterly.