|Trinity Standard - Local News
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Inmate labor offered to non-profit groups
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON — A plan to expand Sheriff Woody Wallace's county jail inmate work program was approved Monday by Trinity County commissioners. During their meeting, commissioners authorized Wallace to begin using his inmate work crew to assist non-profit groups. The sheriff said he will draft an application for groups to fill out and will begin submitting their names to commissioners. Under the plan, non-profit groups can apply to have the inmate crew help them on various projects. Wallace will ask those who apply to donate $125 per day to the county to cover the cost of the part-time jailer who oversees the inmate workers. Trinity County Attorney Joe W. Bell noted that under the law, the work crews could only be used by groups that provide a public service to the county or a political subdivision located in the county. Cities and school districts automatically qualify, as do cemeteries with graves that are 80 years old or over. Bell noted other non-governmental groups that would qualify are nonprofit groups with a Section 501(a) IRS tax exemption and are organized as a nonprofit corporation under the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act. The county attorney added the law also requires the county commissioners to determine if the organization provides a "public service" to the county. "Can this be done on a blanket bases? Could we approve all county churches at once?" Wallace asked. "Under the law, no. There might be a church out there that doesn't perform what is considered to be a public service," Bell said. The county attorney used as an example the Burning Hope Baptist Church of Trinity, which operates both a soup kitchen for the poor and an alcohol/drug abuse program. He noted the county also is charged with helping the poor and dealing with drug and alcohol issues. Therefore, under the law, the two programs provide a service to the county. Because most if not all churches have some type of program to help the needy, Bell indicated they would meet the criteria but the county commissioners would have to make that determination on a case-by-case basis. Following the meeting, Wallace put out a call for any non-profit group that wants to make use of his inmate work crew to contact his office as soon as possible. Even if they think they might want help sometime in the future, he asked they contact him now so they can take care of the paperwork and have their organizations approved by commissioners. The work program got underway shortly after Wallace took office in January. Seven jail trusties have been used to perform work for the county, including working on road projects for the county commissioners. Following a major windstorm that hit Trinity last month, the crew helped clear debris from city streets and school grounds. Following a Memorial Day weekend act of vandalism in Trinity's Cedar Grove Cemetery, they also helped reset overturned headstones. Alarm fee hearing reset Although a public hearing on a plan to establish a fee system on false alarm calls answered by the sheriff's department had been scheduled for Monday, it was reset for 9 a.m. June 24 due to a mix-up on the June 10 meeting agenda. Wallace has proposed charging a fee starting with the third or fourth false alarm call answered at a business or residence with an electronic alarm system. During a meeting in May, Wallace said his deputies are sometimes responding to three or four false alarms at the same location per week. More often than not the false alarms can be traced to a faulty sensor. Wallace is seeking the fee in order to provide the owners with an incentive to have the problem repaired. Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: • Met with Doug Fuller concerning a gate damaged by a sheriff's deputy two years ago. Fuller said he had been trying to collect $200 in damages from former Sheriff Ralph Montemayor and had just learned that he should have addressed the complaint to commissioners. Fuller was asked to meet with Bell regarding the matter. • Approved the appointment of Daniel Adams as a Precinct 1 deputy constable. • Approved a request from County Clerk Diane McCrory to transfer the county's petty cash fund from her office to that of County Treasurer Jo Bitner. • Authorized the precinct 1, 3 and 4 road and bridge department to sell 2013 Mack trucks and to replace them with 2014 models through the state's buy-board purchase system. Under a system now in place, the county replaces the equipment every 12-14 months with the dealer generally purchasing back the older model under a standing bid. The 2013 trucks can be purchased by the public if they submit a higher bid. • Approved a 25-mile-per hour speed limit on J.T. Jordan Road in Precinct 4. • Reset a hearing on establish a no through truck traffic rule on Jack Schaeffer and Trinlady Park roads near Trinity. The hearing will be held during the commissioner's June 24 meeting.