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Stories Added - June 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Service fees given back to deputy constables
Trinity Standard - June 2008
GROVETON – After meeting with two constables Monday, June 9, Trinity County commissioners agreed to allow the county’s deputy constables to keep all of the fees paid for the service of civil papers.
During the meeting, the commissioners rejected a proposal from County Auditor Sheila Johnson to pay only a portion of the fee to the deputies and voted 4-1 to allow them to keep it all.
County Judge Mark Evans, who supported Johnson’s plan, was the only “no” vote.
The controversy over the civil service fees erupted after commissioners voted in May to end the practice of allowing constables and deputy constables to keep the fees – which run from $75 to $100.
Johnson raised the issue, noting that a long-standing attorney general’s ruling indicated that because the constables were now receiving a salary, they could no longer keep the service fees.
During their May meeting, the commissioners also voted to end the payment for the deputies as well, but agreed to re-address the issue in the future.
Prior to May, the service fees were paid directly to the constables and deputy constables. While the deputy constables will receive the fee once again, they will now be paid through the Trinity County treasurer’s office.
During the meeting, Pct. 4 Constable Kent Blanchard and Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace appeared to speak on the issue with both seeking to reinstate the fee payment to the deputies.
It was noted that all deputy constables are reserve, non-paid officers and that their only compensation comes from serving civil court papers.
In her proposal, Johnson suggested that the deputies be paid $40 for serving papers if they used their own vehicle and $25 if a county vehicle were used.
County leases office space
During the meeting, commissioners approved a lease with Jonathan Thornberry to lease the old Perry’s Department Store and adjoining building in Groveton.
The county will use the building to house its offices during the extensive renovation of the Trinity County Courthouse set to begin in November.
The buildings, located across Highway 287 from the courthouse, have been vacant for a number of years. They are now being remodeled and repaired to make them ready for the county offices.
“The lease takes effect on Oct. 1 and we hope to be able to start moving within a week or two of that date,” Evans said following the meeting.
Evans said the plan was to move all of the offices now located within the courthouse to those buildings with the exception of the Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace office. That office will be moved into the Rock Building, located immediately east of the courthouse.
“That will probably be a permanent move,” Evans said of the JP office’s relocation.
Work on the courthouse, which is expected to be completed by mid-February 2010, is being funded through a $5 million Texas Historical Commission courthouse preservation grant.
In addition, the county will contribute $1.6 million in local funds through the sale of certificates of obligation.
Evans noted that the money from the sale of the certificates was deposited into the county’s bank account on Tuesday.
Completed in 1914, the three-story red brick building is scheduled for a complete overhaul, both inside and out.
Under the plan, the exterior will be restored to its original appearance while the interior will receive new electrical and plumbing systems, air conditioning and heating systems, new lighting fixtures and new paint.
False ceilings will be removed and the office areas, although updated to handle computers, will be given an historic appearance.
In addition, an elevator linking all three floors will be installed and the second floor district courtroom will be restored to its original configuration.