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BCDA board elects new officers for 2018

A new slate of officers will lead the Bear Creek Development Authority board of directors through 2018 after board members elected a new chairperson and vice-chairperson at their February 9 meeting.

Bear Creek mayor Connie Morrison was elected chairperson, and Haleyville attorney Jeff Mobley will serve as vice-chairman.

Franklin County probate judge Barry Moore was elected to another term as secretary.

Franklin County resident Neal Hargett addressed the board with concerns about the future of Little Bear Lake. Hargett, who lives on Little Bear, said the lake’s low water level was affecting the use of his property as well as revenue received by BCDA.

The lake’s water level was lowered last year at the direction of the Tennessee Valley Authority after a leak was detected, leading to concerns about the integrity of the dam.

“Little Bear being lowered was a killer out here,”?Hargett said. “I own property on this lake. TVA dropped the ball big time. No one was notified. I wasn’t notified until two weeks after the fact. It was terrible the way it was handled, and this needs to get corrected and fixed this time.”

Hargett believes more than a million fish were killed as a result of the low water level and that the leak was not sufficient to warrant such drastic treatment.

A TVA representative who attended last Friday’s meeting said there would be a press release issued soon by TVA announcing what will take place with Little Bear Lake. An investigation by TVA determined there was no subterranean erosion or loss, so the tentative plan calls for monitors to be installed to monitor the leak, and by March they will start to bring the lake back up to its normal pool level.

Hargett asked whether any study had been done to determine whether the annual lowering of the lake levels had any effect on the integrity of the dams.

“Why lower it so much in the winter when our rainfall is totally different than it was years ago?” Hargett asked. “I just want to know, when is the lake going to be fixed? There’s just a handful of us on Little Bear Lake, but when this happens to Cedar Lake, which is also an earthen dam, I guarantee there will be more than two of us here at your meeting.

“We have something very special here, and I hope it’s not being taken for granted. Our concern is fixing the lake where we can use it. The water level is ridiculous around the lake.”

The BCDA board voted to draft a letter to TVA asking for a status of the Little Bear dam and seeking more information on the water levels of the Bear Creek lakes.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved a $0.60 per hour across-the-board raise for four of its five employees. The amount reflects a three-percent raise. The fifth employee, Mike Stephens, received a salary raise of $7,000 to $40,000 per year and a new title of co-supervisor.
  • Approved a Strategic Plan for Bear Creek Development Authority that was prepared with the assistance of Franklin Resources Group.
  • Heard an update from BCDA manager Shannon McKinney that a timber harvesting and sale on a tract adjoining Elliott Branch was moving forward.
  • Heard an update from Tricia Montgomery that grant funding to the Town of Hodges for trails around the Overton Farm property and for a covered arena have been defunded by the State of Alabama.
  • Established an Overton Farm committee, to be chaired by Montgomery, with the purpose of keeping Overton Farm as a specific area of interest by the board.
  • Approved a Fiscal Year 2018 operating budget, subject to recommended changes from the Budget Committee at the next board meeting.
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