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County to discuss voting hours

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
A concern from a county citizen led to a full-scale discussion on extending hours at county polls in upcoming elections.
Currently, the county polling places are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. County resident Ted Dean told the commission during their meeting Monday that he felt many residents are not able to vote because they work out of the county.
Dean said that other counties provide access to the polls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and that he thought that would offer a better opportunity for those out-of-county workers to vote either in the morning before they leave or at night when they get home from work.
District 1 Commissioner David Stokes said he agreed that polls should be open longer and said the main concern would be for the pollworkers who are paid a flat sum.
Dean said the county commission has the power to change the voting hours without the consent of other agencies, namely the probate office, sheriff's office and circuit clerk. He also said that any pollworker not willing to work the additional hours has the right to quit the job.
District 4 Commissoner Junior Hall said he knew personnally what it is like to work out of town on election day as he works in Mobile.
Each commissioner said they would like to extend the hours.
Commission Chairman Larry White said while the county does have the authority to make the change, he felt it would be appropriate to hold a discussion on the matter with the other agencies involved.
The commission agreed to host a polling hours workshop and invite the key agencies together. Since elections were just held, White reminded the commission that they had time to be thorough before making a decision.
The commission agreed to table the matter until the workshop could be held.
Other items discussed by the commission included:
Britton offered several interest rates from local banks, but recommended the county enter into an agreement with the U.S. Treasury at the slightly higher rate.
The commission opted to decrease the term to 18 months at a rate of 1.5 percent. The commission voted to accept the 18-month deal, but only after local banks are given an opportunity to meet or exceed the percentage rate;
The commission approved to vacate the property by a unanimous vote;
She also said the agency is currently working with All Children Together and Kid1, a group currently raising funds in Escambia County to provide transportation to women and child who need healthcare but have no means of transportation.
She also said that Escambia County has become eligible for funds through its recent inclusion into the Delta Regional Authority.
She said the county is eligible for a $5,000 grant to be used for a needs-assessment report. She said when that report is finished, Escambia will be included with already-existing members for larger cash grants and programs;
White acknowledged that Bell Creek is a highly-traveled road and that it is a maintenance problem for the county. But, he said the county has no money at this time for paving projects.
The commission voted to go into executive session before the end of the meeting, citing good name and character.