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Stories Added - March 2010
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Commissioners OK tower rental for PCSO radio communications
Polk County Enterprise
BY VALERIE REDDELL Editor email@example.com LIVINGSTON — Polk County Commissioners approved changes in a rental agreement Tuesday for radio tower space with Sam Houston Electric Cooperative, purchase of a man-lift for the maintenance engineering department and approved contracts to replace two bridges on county roads. The Sheriff’s Office’s radio communications system was heavily damaged when Hurricane Ike passed through Southeast Texas Sept. 13, 2008. Repairs on that damaged equipment and other communications system upgrades are using LEAP grant funds available through the Department of Homeland Security and Deep East Texas Council of Governments as well as FEMA disaster relief funds. The amended contract with SHECO will increase the number of antennas placed on SHECO’s tower from eight to 10 at a rate of $140 a month per antenna. PCSO is also working on a project to erect a county-owned antenna that will eliminate that $13,440 a year in tower rental. PCSO Capt. John Sanders told commissioners Tuesday that the conversion to the new 400-foot tower won’t be complete for another year to year and a half. Currently they are getting wattage statistics and load-testing the tower. The cost to rent SHECO’s tower for the remainder of fiscal year 2010 and all of fiscal year 2011 is covered by $13,924 in LEAP grant funds. The agreement was approved with Pct. 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis abstaining. During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s Commissioner’s Court meeting Livingston resident Barbara Wagstaff read a letter to the editor that appeared in Sunday’s edition of the Polk County Enterprise. The letter was a plea from an elderly Onalaska resident that claimed neighbors kept a dog in a very confined space without adequate shelter during freezing conditions this winter and refers to a citation given to the owners when animal control officers found the dog did not have adequate clean water. Following the meeting, Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet told the Enterprise he had already made inquiries into the situation described in the letter. When Overstreet spoke with the letter writer she told him the dog was released from the kennel from time to time for exercise and was out playing with her dog at the time Overstreet called. Overstreet added that he spoke with PCSO animal control officers and they have made numerous visits to the location and found the animal in good condition. Wagstaff frequently addresses commissioners with concerns about animal issues, especially since the county closed its animal shelter during construction for the county jail expansion. Construction of a new county shelter is under way in Leggett. Commissioners also approved the purchase of a man-lift for $22,500 from Jim Goodall Equipment Company in Naples, Fla. after the lift currently used by the maintenance engineering department failed while Maintenance Supervisor Jay Burks was in the lift about two weeks ago removing Christmas decorations. “It was a freak malfunction,” county public information officer Marcia Cook said. “Jay was very familiar with operating the equipment, but he was thrown from the bucket and suffered bruises and a cut that required stitches.” Burks told commissioners he requested bids from a number of equipment retailers for a replacement lift, but the only similar piece of equipment in the area is used. The price quoted by the Florida retailer is below other advertised prices which ranged from $25,000 to $27,000, according to Burks. The price includes delivery, training classes and a safety harness, Burks added. In response to questions from commissioners, Burks said service technicians are available in the area, if repairs are needed. The court also awarded contracts to low bidders L&W LaFour & Sons for two bridge replacement projects. LaFour bid $15,598 to replace the bridge on Duff Road in Precinct 4. Replacement of the bridge on Carrington Cemetery Road at Mudd Creek in Precinct 3 will not exceed $20,670. LaFour’s bid of $20,670 included rock that Pct. 3 would provide, Purvis said. That expense will be backed out of the contract amount. County officials also approved a lease agreement to replace a third copier at the sheriff’s office. At a previous meeting, commissioners approved a lease agreement for two copiers, but the third lease is within the budgeted amount for that line item in the general fund budget, County Judge John Thompson said. The court approved changes to the county’s personnel management system updates, which were removed from the consent agenda at the request of Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis. Human Resources Supervisor Adrena Gilbert told commissioners the changes included one revision to hiring practices that has become an issue. In the past, some hiring decisions had been made before results of pre-employment drug testing came back, she said. She advised that practice could create problems. Another policy change involved a change in physicians who see employees in worker’s compensation cases. Gilbert said four employees had been seeing a physician for onthe- job injuries who closed his practice and left the area. She has talked to several physicians about agreeing to see those employees but the doctors she had talked to did not want to take responsibility for a patient when they may not agree with earlier treatment the employee received. The Urgent Doc clinics in Livingston and Lufkin have agreed to see county employees who suffer new injuries. But Gilbert said the best recommendation she can make for the four workers who were already being treated was for them to go to the emergency room at Memorial Medical Center- Livingston. She added that those four employees would probably find it easier to find a physician themselves since they can discuss details of their medical history with a doctor, but Gilbert cannot.