The city of Fairhope released the results from tests on the fecal matter found June 6 on a public beach between the Orange Street pier and the American Legion. The findings suggest the fecal matter originated from an avian source, likely Canada geese, according to testing at Auburn University’s Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Studies.
Auburn professor Yucheng Feng’s lab tested DNA extracted from four fecal samples collected by the city’s public works department. The samples were tested for four DNA markers, which included general and human feces as well as two avian species markers.
The results from all four samples were negative for human feces, but positive for avian feces. The DNA marker GFD, which all four samples tested positive for, consists of seagull, duck, chicken and Canada geese.
“There were no markers for human DNA,” Water and Sewer Department Head Dan McCrory reported. “It came back as duck, seagull, chicken and Canada geese, and [Feng] said it was 85 percent positive for Canada geese. So the answer to the question is that it was Canada geese poop on the beach.”
A copy of the results emailed from Feng’s office to the city of Fairhope was provided to Lagniappe June 22.
The stink began June 6 when Fairhope resident Elliott Gordon uploaded a video of feces on the beach to his personal Facebook page. From the beginning, the city of Fairhope contended the material originated from the Canada geese population on the city’s public beaches.
The fecal matter prompted the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to post a warning sign July 8 indicating the possibility of heightened bacteria levels at the beach, but the warning was removed two days later after testing showed acceptable levels.
In other news from the city, Council President Jack Burrell said his trip representing Fairhope at the Paris Air Show had been productive. Burrell joined Baldwin County Commissioners Tucker Dorsey and Chris Elliott, as well as Lee Lawson from the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, at the annual show along with a delegation of other state and local officials.
“We had some very productive meetings and I can’t [mention] any company or individual names for proprietary reasons, but there was a company located in south Alabama with a need for skilled laborers such as the ones [provided by] our aviation academy. So they are going to come talk to our academy about how they can get some of those graduates,” Burrell said. “The second interesting meeting was with a company that produces small aircraft. They are not in competition with Airbus, but they are looking for a facility to build 120 small aircrafts a year and the Fairhope airport may meet their needs.”
At the regular city council meeting June 22, the council also approved a resolution allowing Mayor Tim Kant to execute a temporary construction easement between the city and property owners Patricia and David Schultze for the construction and maintenance of a “bioretention swale” on the western 20 feet of a lot in the Ridgewood Estates subdivision.
Public Works Director Jennifer Fidler said the swale would address stormwater maintenance issues in the subdivision.
“The water has caused an issue for years,” Fidler said. “The homeowners have put in a new driveway and the water is coming down the cul de sac and it is running through everyone’s yards.”
The temporary easement will expire in 180 days.
The city council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the purchase of an articulating rough mower for the Quail Creek Golf Course from Turf Supply Inc. for $15,200. The city also awarded a $62,243.20 bid for the first two phases of the Quail Creek sidewalk project to Asphalt Services Inc. and awarded a $42,782.50 bid for the third and fourth phases of the project to Arrington Curb and Excavation Inc.
“This is something we have been promising the people at Quail Creek for probably three years now,” Burrell said. “I’m glad to see that we finally have the money so we can award these bids and get these sidewalks started.”
The council expected to reject a bid for a 2016 Ford F250 XL for the gas department because there was only one bidder, but decided to change course and approve the bid for $25,189 to Georgia-based Wade Ford.
Purchasing manager Dan Ames said the city normally rejects bids when there is only one response, but if the city sought to purchase the same truck through the National Joint Powers Alliance buying group, it would be more expensive. He also said the state of Alabama was in litigation with Wade Ford over the dealership representing itself as being Alabama-based in other bids, when it is actually based in Georgia.
Because of the litigation, Ames said the company had been blocked from being awarded bids it sought while representing itself as an Alabama company. He said the issue did not preclude the city from awarding the company a general bid.
“I checked with the state and we can award this bid even though they are in litigation,” Ames said. “We can award it because they won it. They are not representing themselves as being from Alabama in this bid, they are a Georgia-based dealer.”
Ames said the city requested bids from approximately 15 companies and received only Wade’s response.
The council also approved a request from the police department to add officers Blake Bauer and Joseph Seay to its Fairhope Volunteer Police Reserve. Chief Joe Petties said the city’s stable of reserve officers had dwindled to just four available officers.
“Over the years we have hired some of our reserves full time and we had one resign last week,” Petties said. “We’ve had a couple more who have not been able to come out, so we got down to just four reserve officers. We’d like to have about 14 because of all the events we have and they really come in handy when we need help.”