County Commission reiterates policy for naming memorial roads

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – When it comes to naming county roads in memory of someone, the Shelby County Commission’s general policy has been don’t do it.

Commissioners reiterated that position Monday night while discussing a request from an out-of-town preacher to name portions of county roads 466 and 479 in memory of two specific fallen soldiers from the Vietnam War.

The preacher, who has some Shelby County connection, has asked to be put on the public comment portion of the agenda for an August commission meeting to discuss his suggestion, County Manager Alex Dudchock said.

“We’d hate for a person to travel from out of town and get folks here for three minutes,” Dudchock told commissioners. “It helps to get a [prior] phone call from an elected official to say ‘this is our dilemma and we don’t do this.’”

County Engineer Randy Cole said he could think of just two cases in which county roads have been named in memory of someone: a bridge in Alabaster named in memory of a fallen solider, and a road named in memory of the late Billy Thompson, a county commissioner.

Cole said he’s talked with the preacher, explained the county’s position and said the memorial signs could be erected on private property, provided they follow county sign ordinance procedures.

“That’s not what he wanted,” Cole said. “He wanted a sign on the right-of-way as memorials to these two fallen soldiers. We historically have not done that.”

Dudchock said naming roads in memory of someone, especially individual veterans, is “unmanageable.”

“We’re not able to come up with a framework for how a policy could be written to choose between [various foreign conflicts],” Dudchock said, citing the large number of Shelby County residents who have served in the military. “Y’all could spend time right now naming people who you’d like to name a road after relative to this, and it’s just unmanageable.”

The commission took no action Monday, but several commissioners indicated they would call the preacher and explain the county’s position.

In other news:

-Wayne Shirley and Mark Bray were reappointed to the E911 board, with terms expiring in June 2015.

“They both do an outstanding job on this board,” Commissioner Dan Acker said.