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Stories Added - July 2009
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County commissioners pick disaster cleanup contractor
Polk County Enterprise - July 2009
LIVINGSTON — County Commissioners voted to name Woodville-based Napco, Inc. as its primary debris removal contractor if Polk County were to suffer a hurricane or other natural disaster that causes extensive tree damage such as the area experienced in Hurricanes Ike and Rita. County Environmental Officer Jay Barbee reported that Napco was not the low-bidder but they are permanently based in neighboring Tyler County and the company has excellent references. The other bidders are all “stormchasers” Barbee said, meaning that they will most likely prioritize work areas based on the extent of damage and will target an area where they can make the most money. Barbee said using the actual amount of debris removed after Hurricane Ike, the bidders ranked from lowest to highest were: BAMACO of Bunnell, Fla. Storm Recovery Services Inc of Alabama Byrd Brothers, based in Wilson, North Carolina and Napco, Inc. of Woodville.
Barbee added that the company should be able to handle several surrounding counties because they typically use subcontractors such as logging crews who are typically idle until sawmills reopen after the storm passes. Pct. 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent said he felt confident that Napco could put together enough work crews to handle all the surrounding counties. Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet added that Napco officials told him they have no desire to chase storms and they hope to never have to work disaster recovery for another one.
The county also voted to award services at the Polk County Jail to Infinity Networks. The current provider is Securus Technologies, and Chief Deputy Byron Lyons said the department already had issues with delayed response times to make repairs and other maintenance problems. Lyons told commissioners that he arranged for all providers who were interested in the inmate telephone contract to put on 45-minute presentations on the benefits of their system. Securus was among those presenters and many of the services they described during that presentation were never offered until Polk County sought bids from other providers. A decision on choosing a contractor for redistricting services was tabled a third time while the contract from low-bidder is reviewed by the District Attorney’s office.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis said he wasn’t sure the contract addressed drawing precinct lines and he wants to be sure we don’t have additional costs at the end of the contract. County Judge John Thompson pointed out that each of the three bidders will only contract with a certain number of government entities and some bidders may not remain available. “I’ve talked to all three since this has been delayed and it just doesn’t make any sense to not save $10,000,” Thompson said. “They are the three top people to do redistricting in Texas and none of them has ever had a problem.” “We get the DA to look at all other contracts and I just want him to look at this one,” Willis answered. “We get input on where the lines are drawn,” Overstreet said. “They bring us multiple options.
A lot of it is guided by the Justice Department and they have to ultimately approve it,” Thompson said. Willis contends, as he has in prior meetings, that there’s no rush to designate a contractor since the census will not be complete until the end of 2010. “Census 2010 is putting together teams now, in fact it’s a good time for us to put in a commercial. Every person we miss costs (Polk County) $10,000 a year,” Thompson said. “Every funding formula is based on population so everyone who is part of a community group, church or anything, encourage everyone to make sure they are in the count.” Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Shine informed commissioners that the county’s ORCA grant consultant David Waxman has sent agreements to other participating entities for eight of the prioritized public projects approved by commissioners.
“They are not necessarily the top eight, these are just eight that are processed,” Shine said. Funds have been approved for the following amounts for generators to operate five shelters at schools or volunteer fire departments: • Leggett $148,000 • Livingston $960,000 • Goodrich $133,000 • Big Sandy $223,000 • Onalaska $148,000 Funds have also been approved for Holiday Lakes and the Alabama Coushatta Volunteer Fire Departments to install propane tanks to fuel generators that had already been installed after Hurricane Rita, Shine said. Shine also reported that his office is ready to begin the application process to buy out properties that have been the subject of repetitive flood claims. “There are several houses in the county that have made as many as four claims for flood damage,” Shine said. Under the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program and Repetitive Flood Claims grant programs the county can purchase property from willing property owners and keep it “in perpetuity” to ensure no one builds on it in the future, according to Shine.
To be eligible for the program, the property must have had at least two prior flood claims and have flood insurance in effect. Shine estimates five houses in the county qualify for the project. “We need it in Hoot Owl Hollow too, but they don’t have the money for flood insurance so they’re out of the program,” Shine said. Animal Shelter Maintenance Foreman Jeremy Harrell reported bidders for the animal shelter project in Leggett will be asked to provide proposals for three options to ensure the project can progress as far as the $100,000 allotted will allow. Shelter Cove sewer upgrades James Flournoy of Klotz & Associates informed commissioners that his company had opened nine bids for the sewer system improvement project in Shelter Cove. “That’s about double the number we normally see, and with the material prices we’re seeing I expect the project to be well under the $190,000 estimate. The project is being paid for by Community Development Block Grant funds. Health Care Resolution After several comments were made during the public comment portion early in Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to delete the item on the agenda relating to a resolution supporting passage of the comprehensive health reform legislation. “The intent was good,” Thompson said.
“The resolution was asking that the National Association of Counties be at the table to address counties’ concerns.” Oil and Gas values Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution requesting the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and/or the Lieutenant Governor to call for an interim study of oil and gas appraisal procedures. Under the current method, the Texas Comptroller has a role and the price of oil and gas on a specific day is used in the calculation. Interested parties had reached a compromise during the recent legislative session and legislation was drafted. “But the wheels came off at the legislature and many, many bills didn’t pass,” Thompson said. “That’s not entirely a bad thing that some of them didn’t pass, but in this case it was a bill we needed. Now we’re asking for an interim study. That’s when the real homework gets done on major issues,” As a final item, commissioners unanimously approved a request to submit a grant proposal to the Department of Homeland Security for grant funds to build new fire stations for Scenic Loop, Big Thicket, Segno, and Indian Springs volunteer fire departments and remodel the fire station at South Polk County. “We’re trying to pool them together to give them more weight and show more concern by applying as a county,” Shine said