Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - August 2008
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County Commissioners Clear Agenda
Houston County Courier - August 2008
By Sharron Randall
Houston County Commissioners Court met on Tuesday, Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. and worked through the lengthy 27-item agenda, finally adjourning at 1:30 p.m.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Kennon Kellum opened the meeting with a thankful prayer for the "good rain." The commissioners approved the minutes of the regular Commisioners Court meeting held on July 22, signed approval of such, approved budget amendments, paid bills, took care of expenses and transferred funds.
County Judge Lonnie Hunt made reference to the town hall meeting on groundwater conservation and said there would be a follow up meeting with target date, Monday, Aug. 25 at the Crockett Civic Center.
He also reported that the U.S. Department of Justice approved the move back to the Houston County Courthouse for early voting In addition, the judge remarked that there's still no news on the natural forest money, but that Senator Joe Barton was "optimistic" that the bill would be passed.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Jerry McLeod reported vandals stole diesel from his tanks about two weeks ago. The court took a few minutes to discuss ways to stop the theft of fuel.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Willie Kitchen said he had good news--prices of fuel went down and he was very happy while Kellum said that drilling in the Weches area was going on and he expected about 50 loads of rock from the oil companies.
Guests Stephen Keller and Carl Goolsby, county engineers with R. G. Miller Engineers, Inc. and Attorney James P. Allison, with the firm of Allison and Bass, specialist in subdivision regulations, were introduced.
Allison presented recommendations for revising the court's suggestions for proposed new regulations pertaining to subdivisions and manufactured home rental communities in unincorporated areas of Houston County.
He called his constructive changes and upgrades "fine tuning" and said he would have a final draft completed by the first regular meeting in September.
Drainage, sewage, county roads and streets and minimal lot sizes were discussed considerably. Hunt observed that he really expected the courtroom to be packed with citizens because subdivisions in the county drew such interest.
Allison also advised the commissioners about the county's authority regarding damage to county roads by heavy trucks and methods to recoup cost of repairs, based on an order dated Dec. 24, 2002.
McLeod asked what utilities the county controlled along county roads and streets. Allison said that county consent was needed to lay water sewer and electric lines, but not telephone cable. That state regulation originated in 1878.
"Who do you think causes the most trouble?" he asked amidst laughter from the commissioners.
Darvin L. Collins, CED, FSA, chairperson of Houston County Emergency Board appeared before the court to request that HCCC request a 2008 disaster declaration due to drought for Houston County from the governor's office.
According to the USDA Drought Monitor, the county continues and has experienced abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions since June 1. Despite the hard rain that occurred during the meeting, lack of rain previously has caused an economic loss in production of hay, corn, and other row crops in Houston County.
Hunt had already penned a letter to Governor Perry including the USDA Flash Situation Report. Commissioners unanimously approved sending the resolution dated Aug. 12, 2008.
In other business, the order to prohibit outdoor burning was not adopted because of the timely rain, the annual outside audit report for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2007 presented by Jesse L. Stephens, CPA was unanimously adopted.
Stephens said that the county was in very good shape financially. The county increased its fund balance with approximately $1.9 million in the general fund.
Commissioners also unanimously agreed to create a County Assistance District to impose an additional one-half cent sales tax in unincorporated areas of Houston County.
Child welfare services in the county were approved 5-0 with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, a non-financial contract.
Gerald Morehead, historical architect with Bailey Architect of Houston made a presentation on replacement of courthouse elevator and roof. Morehead said that a core sample should be taken to help determine how best to address the problem of erosion at the courthouse annex.
The court took no action on a telephone system upgrade, approved $10,000 cost of software contract for the district clerk's office, tabled advertising for bids to sell property in Lovelady at the request of Precinct 3 Commissioner Pat Perry, and approved order authorizing issuance of "Houston County, Texas Certificates of Obligation, Series 2008" in an amount not to exceed $13,500,000 for financing of new law enforcement center and jail.
Commissioners also adopted order setting proposed tax rate for 2008-2009 and set dates of Sept. 2 and Sept. 9 for public hearings.
The court accepted bids on seven and rejected bids on five tax trust properties and approved an increase of 140 percent matching funds from county on Texas County and District Retirement System that will benefit current county employees beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
The salary for Jim Ashworth as assistant district attorney was confirmed, and the court authorized renewal of health insurance with Texas Association of Counties Employee Benefits Risk Pool and accepted renewal credit of $98 per person in the insurance pool.
Roxan Walker's employment and salary as full-time deputy clerk in the district clerk's office was confirmed and no action was taken on employing a new agricultural extension agent before the court finally adjourned.