|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
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Tighter security requested for sub-courthouses
BY GREG PEAK
LIVINGSTON – A request for increased security at Polk County's sub-courthouses was presented Tuesday to county commissioners by Pct. 3 Constable Ray Myers of Corrigan. Myers noted that security at the small, stand-alone subcourthouses has been moved to the forefront of discussion statewide in recent months and he wanted to include the commissioners in the conversation. In his presentation, Myers suggested it might be necessary to hire a full-time deputy constable to meet the needs of the Corrigan Sub-Courthouse. "There might be other options such as video cameras or something else," he told commissioners. "That's up to you." As constable, Myers said he is responsible under state law with providing security for the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace courtroom in Corrigan but the fact that other county offices are located in the sub-courthouse could require full-time security. Myers said he recently attending a training seminar in which the subject of courthouse security was a primary topic and learned that as the constable, he could be held liable for any problems that arise. "The probation department is located in the sub-courthouse so we have probationers coming for drug testing all the time. We have citizens in and out to do business. All it will take is one disgruntled individual to come in an hurt someone," he said. Commissioners noted the Onalaska Sub-Courthouse would face he same issues. They asked Myers to discuss the security situation with District Attorney Lee Hon and come back with more information Distribution of funds In other business during the commissioners' meeting, two resolutions approved by the boards of all Polk County school districts were presented. The schools are asking for the regular distribution of excess proceeds from sheriff's sales as well as the royalties generated by the permanent school fund. District Clerk Kathy Clifton said she now has a procedure in place to distribute the excess proceeds that includes a "blanket order" from a district judge. Under state law, when a property is seized for the nonpayment of taxes it is sold by the sheriff with a minimum bid being the amount of taxes that are owed. If the property is sold for more than the taxes that are due, the excess amount is held by the district clerk for at least two years to give the original landowners or their heirs an opportunity to claim it. When the money goes unclaimed for two years the clerk can distribute it to the taxing entities involved with that particular property. "Just because the money is turned in, that does not mean it will be there after two years. Family members often come in to claim it and there are researchers out there who look for this kind of thing and then go out and find family members if there is a significant amount involved," she told commissioners. Each time there is an excess payment, it is held in an individual account. Clifton noted that under rules established by the county auditor, when the two years had elapsed a court order is required for each account before it can be released to the taxing entities. "I think we have that all worked out now and the distribution should be made on a regular basis," she said. Regarding the royalty income from the permanent school fund, the school districts were asking for it to be distributed each spring so they could use the money for their summer repair and construction projects. The district attorney told commissioner he saw no problem with the request, adding that while the state constitution limits how this money can be spent, capital improvement projects meet the requirements. "I do recommend they keep good records in case they are ever audited, but as long as they use the money in the manner in which they are proposing, there should be no problems," Hon said. Income from the permanent school fund in question is generated by oil and gas royalty payments made on land owned by the county in Throckmorton and Baylor counties. During the early days of Texas, each county was given land by the state legislature to generate income for their school systems. While most Texas counties sold their lands, Polk County is among the few that still own their original grants. Other action During the meeting, commissioners also: -- Approved the purchase of a specially equipped 2013 Nissan van for the county's maintenance department at a cost of $27,286.50. -- Received a request from Raymond Criswell regarding a fence and gate that has been put up on Hester Road near Seven Oaks. Pct. 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis told Criswell that the road in question is not a county road and suggested that he meet with the district attorney regarding the problem. -- Approved the purchase of a Mentalix Livescan system to upgrade the sheriff's department fingerprint scanning capabilities at cost not to exceed $22,250. Like the system now in use, the system is used to upload fingerprint data to the state. However, the system currently used by the sheriff has been in use for seven years and is driven by the Microsoft XP operating system, which is being phased out. Once Microsoft stops supporting XP in April, the county's system will no longer be in compliance with the state regulations.