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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - November 2009
Copyright 2009 - Polk Count
y Publishing Company

Commissioners hear reports on flu, disaster recovery ops
Polk County Enterprise - November 2009

BY VALERIE REDDELL
Editor
polknews@gmail.com

LIVINGSTON — Polk County’s ability to withstand the heavy rainfall Monday without serious consequences is evidence that disaster preparedness is improving in the wake of Hurricane Ike. Polk County rain gauges collected between 1.89 inches to 2.87 inches of rain throughout the day Monday. Polk County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Shine credited area officials during Tuesday’s Commissioners Court session for implementing some of the lessons learned while weathering two hurricanes in three years to minimize the effects of the downpour. Shine also credited the Trinity River Authority for their actions Monday. “We saw in the Phillipines what happens when you let out too much water too soon,” Shine said. Shine went to Luzon with disaster relief teams from the Southern Baptist Convention to assist residents affected by two major typhoons about two weeks ago.

Although the Lake Livingston dam is operated to mimic the natural river flow during heavy rains, Shine said dumping too much water downstream too soon can be disastrous for downstream residents on any river. Commissioners also unanimously approved the purchase and installation of automatic external defibrillators in county buildings. Shine said the county’s safety committee has a training program under way to ensure several county employees are certified as trainers and hold training sessions on first aid, CPR and the use of AEDs. AEDs will be available on each floor of the courthouse, sub-courthouse locations, road and bridge precinct barns and the county jail. Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet made the motion to purchase the AEDs for $30,600. “I’ve been involved in situations where there wasn’t an AED available and the outcome wasn’t what everybody wanted.” Overstreet said. “It’s hard to look back and wonder if it would have turned out different. If it helps just one person, it will be well worth it.” Vaccines for the H1N1 flu are still slow to come, Shine told commissioners.

The county is working with the Texas Department of State Health Services to have Polk County schoolchildren innoculated during special clinics on campus. “I suspect that by the time the vaccine gets here, the flu will have waned,” Shine said. He also reported that 131 employees took seasonal flu shots, an increase of 30 percent over last year. The Emergency Management department is also looking for volunteers to undergo training to assist with emergency sheltering and coordinating sheltering and evacuation for residents with special needs in the wake of the resignation of Johnnie Jago. Shine said his office will absorb Jago’s duties supplemented by volunteers. Eight of nine jurisdictions have signed off on the county’s emergency operation plan, according to Shine. The plan has been updated with recommendations from FEMA after Hurricane Ike. Emergency officials will hold a tabletop drill that will brainstorm scenarios that could occur if a major incident involving the Lake Livingston dam were to occur.

The drill will not involve any activity outside the Emergency Operations Center, Shine said. Eight teams of volunteers from faith-based organizations have assisted with projects identified by the long term recovery committee, Shine reported. Work on several storm-damaged homes is continuing and Shine is waiting on funds to be allocated through DETCOG to hire contractors. “It’s hard to get volunteers this time of year as we move into the holiday seasons,” Shine said. James Flournoy with Klotz Associates, a consulting engineering firm, told commissioners he had inspected two bridges last week in the Polk County road system that failed inspections by the Texas Department of Transportation in July. One of the bridges is just south Seven Oaks on Carrington Cemetery Road in Precinct 3 and the other is on Duff Road at Menard Creek in Precinct 4. The bridge in Seven Oaks will be closed to the public except for the one property owner who crosses the bridge to access their property. Signs also have been posted on the Duff Road bridge limiting loads to passenger vehicles (3,000 pounds). Overstreet said inspectors found rust and decay in the bridge structure during their July visit. “They just let us know.

There’s still no report, they just called and told us there were problems and we needed to limit loads.” “There’s severe decay to the stringers and caps,” Flournoy said. “The next step will be to itemize inspection reports and submit it to TxDOT. Then we’ll come back and prepare a bid pack and award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder,” Flournoy said. Corrigan Clinic Commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday to extend a contract with Corrigan Medical Clinic for another year. Pct. 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis said physician’s assistant James Bledsoe has become involved in the Corrigan community. “He is really good with people and he goes out of his way to help people,” Purvis said. Purvis added that a number of elderly residents live near the clinic and if they have a problem they give him a call and he runs right over. Bledsoe has also worked with the Corrigan-Camden school district and Georgia Pacific on health fairs.

He is continuing to work with GP on safety programs, according to Purvis. Other items approved Tuesday include: • Reappointment of Matt Page as the Polk County representative on the Lower Trinity Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors. • Accept offers to purchase tax foreclosed properties in Pct. 3 (tabled from last meeting), including lots in the West End Addition and Green Addition.

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