Dothan city commissioners voted last week to approve a new four-year contract for municipal Judge Rose Evans-Gordon worth $148,449 per year.
While that is a significant figure to many, it may be justified given the court’s workload each year.
Unlike many smaller towns or cities where municipal court conducts one or two hearings per month, Dothan’s court meets four days a week. Each half-day has its own assignment, like arraignments on Monday mornings and drug classes that afternoon, Evans-Gordon said.
In 2018, the court handled about 12,000 traffic cases and 7,000 misdemeanors, Evans-Gordon said. Officials recently counted their caseloads in one week, and it had reached 900 by Thursday.
Despite Dothan ranking seventh in population in the state, according to the World Atlas, city leaders manage the third-busiest municipal court in Alabama, Evans-Gordon said. She attributes that to the major population swoon the city experiences daily with those coming to work or passing through on the way to the beach.
Evans-Gordon has served as the city’s full-time municipal judge since Dec. 1, 1999, meaning her new contract initiates her 20th year in the role. The Dothan native has been the city’s only full-time municipal judge, though others held the position when it was part time before her tenure.
Burning up the roads
Area roadways became a hot topic thanks to a couple of recent meetings.
First city commissioners passed a resolution authorizing the preliminary engineering work for the addition of a westbound lane to U.S. Highway 84 (West Main Street) between Flowers Chapel and John D. Odom roads. Anyone heading in that direction during the lunch hour or evening rush knows the traffic clogs in that stretch, and another lane would provide some relief.
The state will address another troublesome area, West Main Street between Englewood Avenue and the Flowers Chapel Road area, with the next phase of the Ross Clark Circle expansion. Dothan Public Works Director Charles Metzger hopes to start the Flowers Chapel-John D. Odom project as soon as the state initiative ends.
On Tuesday evening, several local residents visited the Westgate Recreation Center to discuss some major changes to the Honeysuckle Road corridor. The city is in the midst of a $2 million design project that could result in the widening of Honeysuckle from three lanes to five between West Main and Fortner streets and the realigning and extension of Honeysuckle’s southern terminus.
Despite the calendar approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, the Houston County Commission will convene Monday at 10 a.m. on the third floor of the Houston County Administration Building. The major topic will be changes to the building’s security, which houses several important county functions like the probate court and the revenue office.
It has been a pleasure to serve the Wiregrass as a newspaper reporter for the past 13-plus years, but this will be my last Government Oversight entry. I have accepted a position with WordSouth, a marketing firm that represents Wiregrass Electric Cooperative and other cooperatives throughout the Southeast.
As I depart the newspaper industry, please remember that community newspapers like the Eagle remain an integral part of our society and serve as a watchdog in looking out for the public’s best interests.
Thanks for reading all these years.