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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - October 2010
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Commissioners enact burn ban
Polk County Enterprise


LIVINGSTON — Polk County Commissioners issued an order banning outdoor burning throughout the unincorporated areas of Polk County on Tuesday. Polk County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Shine told commissioners that thunderstorms Monday night were not enough to abate drought conditions, so he and the Texas Forest Service were recommending the ban. Outdoor burning is prohibited at all times within the City of Livingston. The court approved a work order for an environmental service provider for disaster recovery projects funded by Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. Grant Administrator David Waxman told officials that the environmental studies are handled differently than other portions of CBDG projects. “The state uses one of eight firms that do environmentals,” Waxman said. “They pay for it, they just ask you to sign off on the work order. All the companies went through a statement of qualifications with the state and they should all be qualified to do the work. I’ve worked with most of them, and some are more qualified than others, but all are experienced in doing the types of things that have to be done with these projects,” Waxman said. As an example, Waxman said on the bridge projects, the company would conduct an assessment to make sure the bridge does not create any environmental problems. They group the pending projects by function and geographical area. “They have already drifted in here and started doing stuff and we’ve asked them to touch based with us to make sure they’re looking at the right piece of the project,” Waxman said. Waxman said his request is the result of earlier incidents when the environmental study was performed on the wrong lift station. Waxman said another situation arose in Orange County when contractors were not aware they needed to assess off-site drainage projects being used to control drainage from a new parking lot. Waxman will also draft a resolution to be considered by commissioners at the next meeting designating how local contributions for the Polk County College/Commerce Center will be spent. “You have local money and $4 million of EDA money,” Waxman said. “We have given them the EDA contract and we’re going to draft a resolution so the $865,000 specified in the contract will not take on the character of a local match. If there is cost savings in other areas, we want to apply it to the $865,000.” County Judge John Thompson also serves as president of the Polk County Higher Education and Technology Foundation. He said the local fund-raising efforts for the college brought in about $1.4 million. Commissioners voted to have construction manager Kingham Construction Co. handle installation of data and telecommunications equipment at the Polk County Judicial Center and the jail expansion project. County Maintenance Supervisor Jay Burks told commissioners those services are considered “soft bid” items and typically the work is performed by the owner using their own people and the telephone or data service providers. “Kingham has agreed to handle that out of contingency money and they will bring back recommendations for the court to approve,” Burks said. “Our local telephone people say it will take 12 to 15 weeks to order the phones.” Reserve Deputy Constables Commissioners decided not to participate in a feral hog abatement grant program due to the amount of information that would need to be gathered and reported in a short period of time. The grant program requires reporting on the number of feral hogs taken and the number of acres that could be accessed by a county trapper and wildlife specialists. The County Agent is barred from participating in the project, so commissioners did not have anyone else suggested who could survey hunting clubs and other groups to gather that information. Commissioners agreed to meet with wildlife specialists for large landowners in each of their precincts to determine interest in participating in the project next year. The court also tabled a request from the sheriff’s office for a capital expenditure totaling $25,700.82 for digital recording and computer equipment. Instead of funding the project through a reimbursement resolution, county officials agreed to fund it from retainage and contingency fees in the jail expansion project. County officials will meet with construction managers next week to see if the funds will be available. The court approved a request from Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis to order property owners to remove fences in the county right-of-way on Fawn Road. “We’ve asked nicely,” said Assistant District Attorney Michael Matthews. “The next step is to have the court issue an order then if they don’t move it by the deadline, we go out and take it down ourselves. It is interfering with the proper use of the property as a county road.” Sick Leave Pool Commissioners drew names of county employees to serve on the sick leave pool. Sheila Smith, Paula Baker, Thomas E. Sheffield, Paula Baker, Andy Lowrie and Christopher Lima were selected to serve on the committee that determines who can draw on hours from the pool.Departmental Reports Sheriff Kenneth Hammack informed commissioners that the jail population increased again in September, which required the sheriff’s department to use contract jail space for 542 inmate-days at a cost of $13,008 during the month. Saturday morning, 150 inmates were in the county jail or IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility. On Tuesday morning 137 were in the county custody, 21 at IAH. Officials also discussed upcoming auctions for salvage or surplus property. A live auction will be held at a date to be announced at the Pct. 3 barn near Leggett


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