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Commissioners Court

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By JOHN SPARKS

 Meeting Friday, March 9 in regular session, Wood County Commissioners opened bids in the $40-50,000 range for chemicals to address the hydrilla problem at Lake Hawkins; considered an expenditure of approximately $15,000 to conduct a special constitutional amendment election at the behest of the state legislature, and approved a bid of $8,759 to make repairs to a foundation leak at the southwest corner of the Wood County Court House. All three expenditures are unbudgeted. A bid to repair a groundwater leak problem in the basement at the southwest corner of the courthouse was accepted at $8,750. The court also approved an expansion project for the office and meeting facilities at the Wood County Airport at an estimated cost of $150,000.

Commissioner Roger Pace, Precinct-3 presided in the absence of Wood County Judge Bryan Jeanes who was attending a training session.

The court has been continuing to address the problem of a hydrilla infestation at Lake Hawkins. Most recently bids were sought from nine suppliers for a chemical known as "Sonar." Three companies responded with bids ranging from $44,191 to $56,034 which were opened at the meeting. Because there was some question regarding container weight, Commissioner Pace agreed to clarify the bids and make a motion on one to accept at a special meeting of the court on Monday, March 12. The bid advertisement specified 60 30-pound buckets, but the returned bids suggested the product comes in 40-pound buckets.

The expenditure for the chemical will have to come from the contingency fund.

Unfunded state mandate to cost $15K
Wood County Elections Administrator Dawn Goldthorn advised commissioners that a special constitutional amendment election must be held Saturday, May 12. This election had not been called when the current budget was being prepared, so no provision was made for funding. The state legislature which called the election is not providing funds along with the mandate, so the county will have to dip into its contingency fund for approximately $15,000.

Goldthorn asked commissioners to approve of a plan to consolidate ballot boxes in Mineola, Quitman and Winnsboro which will reduce the number of judges and clerks needed to man the balloting places. Holly Lake area voters will vote at the Holly Lake Fire Department. Hawkins voters will vote at Hawkins High School.

While citizens may join the commissioners in condemning the "unfunded mandate" element of the election, they will probably be overwhelmingly in favor of the amendment which involves reducing property taxes on the residence homesteads of elderly or disabled for public schools and would reflect any reduction in the rate of those taxes for the 2006 and 2007 tax years.

The expenditure for the election will have to come from the contingency fund.

Flooding causes controversy
Major damage to tile and carpeting in an office suite was caused by a leak in the foundation of the county courthouse in a drenching January rainstorm. An office, meeting facilities, reception area and work room all sustained damage in the rainstorm. The offices are occupied by the juvenile probation department.

The handling of the problem by office staff and by Judge Jeanes was brought into question at a meeting of the court on Friday, February 23. Jeanes authorized the use of jail prisoners to remove water, tiles and carpeting in the emergency situation much of which occurred over a weekend. Jeanes also helped to remove the water and some of the flooring materials.

The concern of those questioning the situation was asbestos. Many of the materials in the courthouse contain asbestos which normally is subject to professional handling and removal. A specialty firm was called in and confirmed the presence of asbestos.

Judge Jeanes said he would prepare an "emergency" policy to cover such situations for consideration by the commissioners. Jeanes plans to contact other counties for such policies already in existence.

The expenditure of $8,750 for courthouse repairs will have to come from the contingency fund.

Construction at "No Cost"
A $150,000 expansion proposal for the terminal, offices and meeting facilities at Wood County Airport will not be funded by the county at all. Commissioners approved an application to the Texas Department of Transportation for grant funds. The state grant covers half the cost of such projects if 50 percent of the cost is funded by another entity or entities. The Meredith Foundation, Mineola has apparently committed the 50 percent matching funds.

The project would almost double the square footage available at the terminal and provide a pilots lounge, a meeting room and a flight-planning area. Speaking for the project, Wood County Industrial Commission Executive Director Gary McKinley said the age and limited size of the existing facility and the increased volume of usage since the building was initially constructed in the mid-89's justify the plan.
In other action, the court approved:

- Payment of claims in the amount of $204,203.22.
- Payroll in the amount of $243,422.01.
- Employee/dependent health claims of $95,580.30.
- Acceptance of bids on two tax-foreclosed properties at $1,500 and $6,000. David Hudson, attorney representing county's tax firm said the bids cover nearly all the back taxes and place the properties back on the tax rolls.
- Adding 1,985 feet of improved roadway into county inventory in Hickory Creek subdivision (Precinct-2).
- Accepting letter of explanation and agreement re: problems with ambulance services in Alba by ETMC.
- Bid advertising dates (03-14 & 21, 2007) for materials for use in expanding services of Fouke Water Supply Corporation for first-time water service and opening of bids at the regular commissioners court meeting on April 5. Commissioners also approved a contract extension date until March 27, 2008 from the Office of Rural Community Affairs (OCRA).
- Activities report of Constable Steve Bowser, Precinct-1.
- Appointment of Aaron Brown as board member of the Wood County Industrial Commission representing City of Hawkins.
Personnel actions approved included:
- Sherry Lavonne Knight, re-hire, part-time deputy district clerk, Office of District Clerk, $8.25.hour.
- Leslie Ann Brady, reclassification, deputy district clerk from part-time deputy district clerk, Office of District Clerk, from $9.00/hour to $11.60/hour.
- Candi Kay Rye, resignation, deputy district clerk, Office of District Clerk.
- Shannon Myers, new hire, secretary, Office of Elections Administrator, $11.60/hour.

The next regular meeting of the Wood County Commissioners Court will be Friday, March 23 at 10 a.m. A special meeting of the court can be called with 72-hour public notice.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 April 2009 17:16  

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