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County given 2nd DSHS health contract
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON — With their first health education contract with the state now winding down, Trinity County commissioners approved a second one on Monday. The new agreement with the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will provide the county with $175,000 over the next two years. Carl Dyer, who oversees the program for the county, noted that under the first contract, the county was given $125,000 to help educate local residents about three dangerous medical conditions – bacterial pneumonia, urinary tract infection and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Dyer noted that the object of the grant was to help reduce the number of cases and the overall cost of treating these conditions. During the first contract period, the state monitored the period from Jan. 1-June 30, 2012 and compared it with the same six-month period in 2011. Dyer said that the cost of treating the three conditions in Trinity County fell by almost 20 percent – dropping from $4.9 million to just over $3.9 million. "DSHS was very complimentary with the decrease in Trinity County costs and our program has received a lot of kudos," Dyer told commissioners. Under the new contract with DSHS, which begins on Sept. 1, Trinity County will work with the East Texas Medical Center-Trinity to continue to provide education on ways to reduce costs for the same three medical conditions plus hypertension or high blood pressure. In addition, a stop smoking element will be incorporated into the program. Dyer noted in the past the program was directed at those who were 65 years of age or older, but the new program also will include younger people and even a school component. "The only way to really get a handle on the problem is to educate the kids and maybe they can avoid problems as they get older," Dyer said. Inspections rejected In other business during Monday's commissioner court meeting, commissioners rejected a plan to require inspections of residential construction begun after Sept. 1. Commissioners had discussed such a requirement for the past couple of months, but after a public hearing on Monday, three of the five court members said they did not favor the measure at this time. Pct. 2 Commissioner Rich Chamberlin, who had initially proposed the measure, agreed to withdraw it and no formal vote was taken. The measure would have required builders to have their work inspected, with the cost being passed on to the homeowner. Chamberlin noted this was basically the same system used by the state until the department that oversaw he program was eliminated. When the state ended its program, the legislature gave counties the power to decide if they wanted to continue it at the local level. During the hearing, the only member of the public to speak was Bill Bond, who opposed the inspection program. In discussing the measure, Pct. 3 Commissioner Neal Smith said he felt it was unnecessary. "If someone goes out and spends $100,000 in cash to build a home and doesn't have it inspected, then I feel they deserve what they get," he said. "If you go to a financial institution and borrow money to build a new home, they are going to require that it be done right," he added. Pct. 1 Commissioner Grover "Tiger" Worsham said he could not vote for it at this time because there does not appear to be any public support for the measure. Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: • Approved increasing the pay given to members of juries from $34 to $40 a day. It was noted that jury members receive $6 for their first day of service and will get the $40 for each additional day starting on Sept. 1. The change was mandated by a change in state law. • Voted not to change the fees the county charges for serving civil court papers. • Approved County Clerk Diane McCrory's plan to consolidate voting boxes for the Nov. 5 Constitutional Amendment Election. This is the standard plan used by the county when a low voter turnout is expected and consolidates the county's 20 voting boxes into 10 voting places. • Approved the dates, times and locations for early voting in the Nov. 5 election. Early voting polls at the Groveton Volunteer Fire Department Meeting Room and the Trinity City Hall Council Room will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oct. 21-25 and Oct. 28-Nov. 1. An early voting location at the Apple Springs Volunteer Fire Department Meeting Room will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, Oct. 21-25. • Approved McCrory's list of election officers for the Nov. 5 election. McCrory will be the counting station manager; Cora Collins will serve as tabulation supervisor, Toni Heinrich and Shasta Bergman will be assistant tabulation supervisors and Mark Willis will be the central counting station judge. In addition, McCrory was authorized to appoint four clerks. • Approved modifications to the county contract with East Texas Medical Center/Emergency Medical Service for ambulance response time in the rural areas of the county. • Approved a request from the Friday Community Center to use county jail inmate labor.