|Trinity Standard - Local News
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Truck rules opposed on Trinity area roads
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON — Controlling truck traffic on two Trinity area roads and the creation of a new nursing home were among the topics addressed Monday by the Trinity County Commissioners Court. During the meeting, the commissioners held a public hearing a plan to ban "thru trucks" on both the Trinlady Park Road and the Jack Schaeffer Road near Trinity. Pct. 3 Commissioner Neal Smith had proposed the measure because of damage being caused to the paved portions of those roads. He has indicated that heavily loaded log trucks have been causing the problem. During the hearing, a number of timber managers appeared to speak against the plan, noting they needed to use the roads in order to transport logs cut in the area. Several speakers noted the economic impact that the timber industry has on the county and asked commissioners to reconsider. "I am not opposed to loggers or the timber industry," Smith said. "My interest is in protecting my roads." Smith noted about four years ago, former Pct. 3 Commissioner Cecil Webb "came into some extra money" and used $90,000 of it to pave portions of these two highly traveled roads. "I can't afford to go in there every four years and repave those roads," Smith said. He noted that after he took office on Jan. 1, he attended training seminars and was told that while he could not stop log trucks from using county roads, he did have the authority to redirect them. Under his plan, the log trucks hauling timber from land adjoining Trinlady Park Road would be routed north, away from Trinity and the paved section of the road. "If the dirt road is damaged by the trucks, that's not a major problem. I can go in there with a maintainer and repair it. I can't do that when the paved area is damaged," he said. One of the speakers at the hearing noted that alternative might not be legal. Ed Small, an attorney with the Texas Forestry Association, said while commissioners can re-route traffic, they cannot require it to go out of county. By routing log trucks north on Trinlady Park Road, they would have to cross into Houston County before they reached the intersection with Highway 19. Action on the plan was postponed following the hearing to give County Attorney Joe W. Bell a chance to check on the state law's requirements for rerouting the trucks. Nursing home During the meeting, commissioners agreed to send a letter to the state to verify that Trinity County meets the legal definition of a "rural county." The letter was requested by Mike Davis of Sweet Neches Properties as a "first step" toward establishing a new nursing home facility in the county. Davis said that in order to build the new nursing home, the company needed to obtain a rural county waiver as part of the Medicaid process. In order to obtain the waiver, the county had to verify through the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) that the county meets the rural county definition. Davis told commissioners his company currently operates nursing home facilities in Huntington and Jasper and is looking to open one in the "Trinity/South Trinity County area." He noted they wanted to be located near the East Texas Medical Center-Trinity hospital because a portion of their business would be providing short-term care to patients recovering from surgery. The current plan for the facility calls for 40 private rooms with an initial staff of 20 people. "At our Huntington facility, it took us nine months to grow from a staff of 20 to 80 while in Jasper we went from 20 to 80 in a year and a half," he said. Medicaid funding would be critical for the proposed facility and Davis said they would be seeking an allotment of Medicaid beds. He noted that only 500 Medicaid beds are created in Texas each year and if they failed to win some of them this year, they would seek them in the 2014 allotment. Pilot program for trash In other business, Sonny Hubbard of Pro Star Waste proposed conducting a pilot project on rural trash collection in the county. Although no action was taken, commissioners indicted they might schedule a workshop session with the company to go over the plan in detail. Hubbard proposed that during the program, 200-400 residential and commercial sites be selected. Pro Star would be given an exclusive contract to collect the trash in that area and pay the county a 4 percent franchise fee each month. The customers would be required to pay a monthly fee for the service but Hubbard said it would not be high. "We're talking the price of a pizza; we're talking the prize of a few packs of cigarettes; we're talking the price of a case of beer," he said. Under the plan, residential customers would be provided with a 98-gallon cart from which the trash will be collected. Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: • Recorded the appointment of County Auditor Sheila Johnson to a new two-year term. District Judges Elizabeth Coker and Kaycee Jones made the appointment. • Re-appointed Cathey Page as the county's representative on the Burke Center's board. • Appointed Mark Mann as a deputy constable at the request of Pct. 2 Constable Mark Cole • Authorized Sheriff Woody Wallace to purchase a used transport van at a cost not to exceed $15,000. Wallace said that by transporting county prisoners to and from the Houston County Jail in Crockett, he could reduce the daily rate for housing inmates there from $38 to $32 per day. After calculating the costs for the vehicle and driver, Wallace indicated he could save from $3,400 to $3,600 per month by taking over the transportation duties. • Found that the Trinity County Fair and Youth Livestock Association is qualified under state law to apply for the use of county jail inmate labor. The organization is the first to meet the qualifications under the new program launched by Wallace. • Postponed action on rules governing private electronic alarms used in the county. The action was delayed to give Bell and Wallace more time to refine the proposed rules.