|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Precinct line changes okayed
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON – Precinct line changes inside Groveton and voting box changes in southern Trinity County were formally approved Monday Trinity County’s commissioner court. During their regular monthly meeting, commissioners approved changes in Groveton, which transferred about 235 people from Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham’s Precinct 1 into Commissioner Jimmy Brown’s Precinct 4. Other minor changes were made to the precinct lines but did not involve moving voters. One was a simple transfer of the Trinity Cove/Lloyd Bell Road from Precinct 1 to Precinct 2 for maintenance purposes. Others involved moving lines that were running down the middle of state highways to one side of the right-of-way in order to clarify which justice of the peace had jurisdiction over tickets written on that highway. The main change approved in the county’s voting boxes involved splitting Voting Box 17 in the Trinity area. Under the new plan, Precinct 2 residents who have been voting at the Trinity Community Center but who live south of Tatum Street will be in the new Voting Box 21. They will soon vote at the River of Life Church off Highway 19, south of Trinity. Voting Box 21 will include the Pinecrest Estates, Trinity Plantation and Sportsman Retreat subdivisions. Other modifications to voting boxes involved undoing changes made in 2003 after the Texas Legislature divided Trinity County, putting most of it in U.S. Rep. Joe Barton’s 6th District and a strip along the southern border – including Trinity – in U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady’s 8th District. Because the new state plan places the entire county in Brady’s district, County Attorney Joe W. Bell said the more traditional voting boxes could be restored. For instance, those who live on the north side of Chita will now be able to vote in Chita and not have to drive to Groveton. The one exception to returning to the traditional voting box lines involves Precinct 3 residents along FM 3188 north of Trinity. Traditionally, they cast their ballots in Voting Box 4 (Glendale Methodist Church) but in 2003 were moved to Voting Box 19 (Trinity City Hall). Pct. 3 Commissioner Cecil Webb asked that the FM 3188 area be kept in Voting Box 19 because he felt it would be more convenient for those voters. The entire redistricting plan will now be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for their review as required under the federal Voting Rights Act. The changes in the precinct and voting box lines are not scheduled to take effect until 2012 and will not effect voting during the Nov. 8 constitutional amendment election. County to borrow money During the meeting, commissioners authorized Trinity County Treasurer Jo Bitner-Bartee to borrow up to $200,000 to meet payroll and other expenses through Sept. 30, which is the end of the current fiscal year. Last month commissioners authorized the treasurer to borrow $150,000 to meet the August obligations. During Monday’s meeting, Bitner-Bartee and County Auditor Sheila Johnson told commissioners that until all bills have been submitted to the county, they would not know exactly how much money would be needed this month. The treasurer estimated the minimum loan needed would be about $100,000 but said the final total would probably be more. “I don’t feel it will get up to $200,000 so that is a safe amount to authorize,” she said. Last year the county had to borrow about $500,000 to meet its end-of-budget-year obligations and commissioners noted the $350,000 it has authorized this year is an improvement. During their budget debates this summer, one of the goals expressed by the commissioners is to be able to set aside money in the FY 2012 spending plan to cover the county expenses next August and September. However, cuts in federal forest funds and the loss of state grants are forcing commissioners to tighten the budget and reduce the “reserve fund,” which they had hoped to use to cut the end-of-year borrowing cycle. Brush truck discussed During the meeting, officials with the Carlisle-based 356 Volunteer Fire Department presented a request for $8,400 to cover the local share of the cost to purchase a new brush truck. The department’s fire station and all of its equipment were destroyed by a fire in July and none of it was covered by insurance. Marvin Caldwell, president of the 356 VFD board, said they have received an emergency grant from the Texas Forest Service to purchase a new brush truck but have to come up with 10 percent of the money locally. While the department has been receiving donations, Caldwell said they hope to use that money to rebuild the fire station and asked if the county could help by providing the $8,400. 356 Fire Chief Jesse Baker noted the department has been given a number of fire trucks – most of which need repairs of some type – but none are designed to fight brush fires. Until Friday, the Onalaska VFD had loaned them a brush truck but had to take it back after sending some of their equipment to help fight the major grass fire in the Magnolia area. Worsham, whose precinct includes Carlisle, said money might be available through Title III federal forest funds. He noted that the county has been receiving money from the U.S. Forest Service for a number of years and while most that money goes into the road and bridge budget, a portion is required to be set aside in Title II and III accounts to fund special programs. In the past, the county has used its Title III money to help purchase fire trucks for the Groveton and Friday VFDs, Worsham said. At present, the county has a little less than $2,100 in Title III money on hand, but Worsham said he would check with the U.S. Forest Service and additional money might be available. If they could confirm the money was coming, Worsham suggested the department use the money it now has to purchase the truck and let the county reimburse them. “I would hate to tell you to do that until we found out for sure the money was coming,” he said. Commissioners did vote to allocate all of the $2,100 now on hand to the 356 VFD and to provide the remaining $6,300 if and when additional Title III money is available. In responses to questions from Pct. 2 Commissioner Rich Chamberlin, Baker said the department would carry more than just liability insurance in the future. “We’re going to carry it on the building if I have to get out in the middle of 356 and do a striptease. I’m sure people would pay a lot of money to have me put my clothes back on,” he joked. Other business During their meeting, commissioners also: • Approved the scheduled for adopting the county budget and tax rate. A public hearings on the budget will be held Wednesday, Sept. 21 and Monday, Sept. 26, both starting at 9 a.m. A final public hearing followed by votes on adopting the budget and tax rate will be on Friday, Sept. 30. • Received a report from Kathy Brown, head of the county’s indigent care program. She noted that during 12-month period ending Aug. 31, her office spent $341,723,15 on indigent care in Trinity County. Of that total, $228,075.07 was reimbursed by the state, leaving $13,638.08 paid by the county. Currently, there are 40 people in the indigent program. Brown discussed making changes in the optional services currently provided by the county – such as dental and vision care – which could reduce costs. Commissioners tabled action in so that each commissioner could meet individually with Brown to discuss the matter. • Received an appraisal report from Jay Long on the buildings now used as the courthouse annex. The county originally moved into the annex two years ago while the courthouse was being renovated and while most offices have now moved back into the courthouse, the county clerk and tax assessor-collector are set to remain in the annex. Instead of just paying rent, commissioners are looking to set up a lease-purchase agreement with the building’s owners and obtained the appraisal as part of that effort. Long said the buildings, the land on which they sit and three city lots located to the west now used for parking are valued at about $495,000. He noted that this translates to about $30.32 per foot for the 16,000-square-foot buildings. • Set the schedule of meetings for the coming fiscal year. Under the plan, commissioners will hold regular meetings on the second and fourth Mondays of every month except December and May. During those two months, they will meet only on the second Monday. • Adopted the holiday schedule for the coming fiscal year. Holidays will include Nov. 4 (Veterans’ Day), Nov. 24-25 (Thanksgiving), Dec. 23 & 26 (Christmas), Jan. 2, 2012 (New Year’s Day), Jan. 16, 2012 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), Feb. 20, 2012 (President’s Day), March 2, 2012 (Texas Independence Day), April 6, 2012 (Good Friday), May 28, 2012 (Memorial Day), July 4, 2012 (Independence Day) and Sept. 3, 2012 (Labor Day). In addition, each county employee will be given a holiday on their birthday. • Appointed a salary grievance committee by drawing the names of those who served on county grand juries over the past year. Named to the committee were Mason James Nevill, Mary Adline Curtis, Yolanda English, Deborah Karnes, David Poole, Clara Marino, Danny Martin, Linda McClain and Phillip Morrison. Alternates selected were Bill Fogle and Doug Smith. • Formally adopted the FY 2012 salary and allowance schedule for elected officials. The schedule was unchanged from the one used in fiscal 2011. • Renewed the agreement with the City of Groveton allowing Worsham to maintain the city’s streets. The commissioner noted that the city has indicated they would begin their own maintenance program starting in January, • Adopted proclamations designating Sept. 11 as “Stop and Remember 911” Day and September as PTA Month and as Senior Citizen Month.