Farmer's market may not be certified

Posted 3/7/18

The Walker County Commission heard that officials are still confused on the status of the Walker County Farmer's Market. A complaint was lodged by Sandlin's Produce at a recent meeting that some …

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Farmer's market may not be certified


The Walker County Commission heard that officials are still confused on the status of the Walker County Farmer's Market. 

A complaint was lodged by Sandlin's Produce at a recent meeting that some farmers were purchasing produce in Birmingham and selling it at the local market, which was intended for selling local produce that local farmers grow. 

County Engineer Mike Short said last month he was told that state officials over the farmer’s market program are planning to deal internally with problems at the Walker County Farmers Market and other farmers markets across the state that are allegedly buying produce elsewhere to sell at the markets. He said that he heard that through Dorman Grace, a farmer who has connections with Montgomery. 

However,  Short noted that Patricia Frederick, a Jasper attorney who represents Sandlin Produce, had discovered the local market was not a certified as a state farmer's market.

"I tried something but it may not have worked," he said. 

County attorney Richard Fikes said he understood the market was non-profit group.  "The county leases the property to them. That is the only control we have is through the lease itself," he said. 

Davis asked where the rule comes from that it must sell only locally produced produce. Fikes said he is not sure, but it is not a county rule. Davis said it would appear the complaint would be with the state and farmer's market, and not with the county. He said he did want to review the terms of the lease so that a formal answer can be given to Sandlin. 

In other action, the commission: 

• Heard Revenue Auditor Robbie Dickerson that in working with Jerry Bishop, the chairman of the commission, the county is saving on vehicle insurance. The premiums went down $2,045 a year, while deductibles went down from $50,000 to $5,000 for regular vehicles and $10,000 for heavy vehicles.  Property and equipment insurance is also being reviewed. Commissioners were pleased at the savings. 

• Heard a wellness screening for employees has been set for May. 

• Heard commissioners say they wanted to honor Sara Stockman, a fifth-grader at Curry Middle School, who arranged for donated items to the  Walker County Humane and Adoption Center instead of receiving gifts on her 11th birthday. Jeff Lockhart, the manager of the center, related her story to commissioners, as well as another event where 35 kindergarten students from Parrish Elementary School students collected items to donate to the center. The students visited the shelter recently, and commissioners said they also wished to honor those students as well. Lockhart said other schools are welcome to visit the center, noting the Parrish students received a tour and a chance to pet the animals, were given advice on how to be responsible pet owners and enjoyed frozen treats.  Davis also praised the job Lockhart does, noting the facility is a clean, "first-rate facility."

• Approved a $4,942 state Emergency Management Performance Grant from the state that helps to reimburse the salary of Walker County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Regina Myers.

• Voted for a 50-foot right-of-way change needed for a new access for the Walker County Airport-Bevill Field.  Joey Sanders of Sanders Aviation, the owner of the property, is making a gift of the property to the county, although a reversion clause will be written in to go back to Sanders if the property is no longer needed.