Bruce Nelson, center, received his Battalion Chief badge during the Aug. 7 city council meeting. He is with Mayor Tony Kennon, left, and Fire Chief Justin Pearce.   
Bruce Nelson, center, received his Battalion Chief badge during the Aug. 7 city council meeting. He is with Mayor Tony Kennon, left, and Fire Chief Justin Pearce./City of Orange Beach photo by Marc Anderson
City Administrator Ken Grimes
City Administrator Ken Grimes
By John Mullen
August 8, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – A busy summer is winding down and even this week the stranglehold of traffic has started to abate.
 
“I want to thank all of our employees that have sort of guided all of the various jobs,” City Administrator Ken Grimes said. “It’s been a very challenging summer but for the most part, we’ve had a very strong and good summer. As you can tell by this week and today just driving to work there’s a lot less people in town.”
 
Grimes was speaking at the end of a combined regular council meeting and work session in Orange Beach on Aug. 7. Also, during the meeting, the council talked about changing clinics serving city employees and dependents and saw the promotion of firefighter Lt. Bruce Nelson to Battalion chief.
 
The long, hot and busy summer didn’t go out with a whimper, however, Grimes said. City resources were stretched right up to the last minute with first responders maxed out with recoveries and rescues on the beach. 
 
“This past week was very challenging on the beach for police and fire and many, many others,” Grimes said. “We did have a loss of life with a drowning which is an issue.” A 53-year-old Jasper man, Richard L. Coleman, drowned near Perdido Pass.
 
Grimes said the city will now enter its annual post-summer review session.
 
“When you get to the end of the season you look back and try to see figure out what could be better,” Grimes said. “We’re always striving to do better and I’m just proud of everybody that has gotten us to this point as we kind of take a breath. A lot of things have been happening and overall, it’s been a very good summer.”
 
Mayor Tony Kennon was gauging another factor to judge the summer season.
 
“We are waiting on the most accurate of all indicators, the sewer flows,” Kennon said. “Judging by how many people were here this summer the preliminary numbers are it was a record summer and a record number of people here.”
 
EMPLOYEE CLINIC
Currently, city employees and dependents can be treated at the Symbol Clinic at the city’s medical building just north of city hall on State Route 161. That contract ends Dec. 31 and Grimes said the city is now in talks with Southern Rapid Care to take over the service. 
 
“We have had several conversations with the management team of Southern Rapid Care and we believe this will be a better option for not only our employees but also for the City of Orange Beach forward,” Finance Director Ford Handley said. “Overall, I believe we will save costs in the future while also providing much more hours, doctors fulltime, seven days a week for our employees.”
 
Kennon said the change is not a reflection on the work done by Symbol but Southern offers expanded services Symbol cannot.
 
“It was nothing in any way, form or fashion to do with Symbol,” Kennon said. “I have nothing but good things to say and I told them I’d be glad to write a reference. The employees were great and I thought everybody did a good job. 
 
“But there’s no way they can compete with an entity that’s already here seven days a week, have doctors on site. They are giving up margin to help us as a city, we’re helping them subsidize costs in the offseason to keep them afloat. It is a win-win situation for our community to see them prosper and grow. This was a blessing falling into our lap.”
 
NEW BATTALION CHIEF
Fire Chief Justin Pearce announced the promotion for Nelson and his wife pinned the new badge on him during the meeting. In his 19 years with Orange Beach Nelson started the department’s dive team and worked with the marine program and hazardous materials response team.
 
“He’s been leading the way on a lot of projects,” Pearce said. “I feel like this is going to be an easy, natural transition for him and I’m proud of him.”
 
Kennon and other council members thanked Nelson for his service.
 
During the regular session the council also:
 
Approved a beer and wine license for the new Dollar General under construction on State Route 161 north of the city’s medical building.
 
Approved a special retail beer and wine license for a Labor Day weekend event at The Wharf.
 
Passed a resolution awarding the bid for the city's debris clearance and sand reclamation contract to Crowder Gulf.
 
Passed a resolution accepting the proposal for the city's debris monitoring, disaster management and recovery services contract from Thompson Consulting Services.
 
Passed a resolution awarding the bid for a Drone for the Police Department to Vector Solutions for a little more than $40,000.
 
During the work session the council discussed:
 
A contract with Burk-Kleinpeter to provide engineering and land surveying services for Terry Cove Drive improvements at State Route 161 intersection for $30,572. The project is a lengthening of the right-hand turn lane.
 
A resolution to authorize the execution of a professional services agreement with South Coast Engineers for coastal engineering services.
 
A resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a software service agreement with Siteimprove to monitor the City's website and to improve performance.
 
A resolution authorizing the purchase of a security door for the Finance Department from Glass Systems of Alabama for $36,449.
 
A resolution appointing Penny Groux to the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism Board of Directors.
 
A resolution authorizing the execution of a memorandum of agreement with the Orange Beach Public Library Board for generator usage.
 
A resolution authorizing the execution of a task order with Lucido Engineering & Surveying to perform land surveying of the Callaway Drive right-of-way south of Canal Road in an amount not to exceed $6,310.
 
A resolution Orange Beach to acquire certain property in and around Powerline Road to allow for the acquisition of additional property.
 
A resolution amending the employees pay plan/job listing to make adjustments to Tennis Center positions and to add positions related to the Expect Excellence Program.
 
A resolution authorizing the execution of a memorandum of agreement with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency for aviation services to aid search and rescue operations.
 
A resolution authorizing Olsen Associates to perform coastal permitting services in an amount not to exceed $51,900.
 
Amending an ordinance regarding “Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems” to clarify the purpose of prohibiting voyeurism.