The Coffee County Commission honored longtime county employee Sharon Lyles in recognition of her retirement at the Jan. 10 commission meeting.

Lyles has worked for Coffee County, in both the probate office and commission office, since 1986 and has been a computer technician in the county commission office since 2013. Before that she worked in accounts payable from 1993 until 2013 and worked in the probate office from 1986 until 1993.

The commission honored Lyles’ many years of service with a resolution and also presented her with a plaque and award in recognition of her service.

“I concur with the other commissioners, 35 years is a lot to give to your community,” Commissioner Jimmy Jones said. “We can all be proud of you. You always carried yourself in a professional manner and we thank you on behalf of the citizens of Coffee County.”

The commission also held a public hearing about the request of a private resident for the county to vacate a portion of County Road 173, but no one chose to speak at that hearing. The commission unanimously approved the request to vacate the portion of County Road 173 at the Jan. 10 meeting.

The commission also received its annual County Rebuild Alabama Report that breaks down the money received from the Rebuild Alabama Act and how it was spent in fiscal year 2021.

The county received a total of $806,627 from Rebuild Alabama and an additional $400,000 from federal funds that were used to repave County Road 420, County Road 422, County Road 423 and County Road 248 for a total of 8.96 miles of county roads that were repaved in 2021.

The county spent $810,883 of the money it received for these projects and will carry the remaining $270,989 from Rebuild Alabama and $126,755 from federal funds over into fiscal year 2022.

Coffee County Emergency Management Agency Director James Brown brought some unfortunate COVID-19 news to the commission, as well. Brown said that after cases in Alabama have dropped over the past several months, they have exploded at the end of 2021 going into 2022.

Brown said that Alabama had a total of 2,500 COVID-19 positive cases in a seven-day period two weeks prior and that number has risen to 51,733 over the past seven days. Brown also said that Coffee County – with 433 new cases over the last seven days – has seen its numbers rise by more than four times over the past two weeks.

While Brown emphasized that the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to be much less deadly with less severe symptoms overall, it seems to also spread easier. Brown said that the Delta variant saw between 9 and 10 percent of those that come down with it go to the hospital, while Omicron has seen between 3 and 4 percent of people hospitalized. While that is the case, Brown also said that means with the high number of spread it also means more people are being hospitalized.

“We had 412 people in the hospital two weeks ago and today we have 1,660,” Brown said. “You need to start thinking about your personal protection. Consider wearing a mask, consider getting the vaccine (if you haven’t already) and try to stay away from large groups. Hopefully if you get it it will be mild but you never know with this thing.”

The next county commission meeting will be held Jan. 24 at the County Commission Complex in New Brockton.

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