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Jeter receives award

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By Jan White
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Melissa JeterCROCKETT – During the Houston County Commissioners Court meeting held on Jan. 24, County auditor Melissa Jeter was honored for her outstanding work by the Texas Association of County Auditors (TACA).

Kris Klein, Guadalupe County Auditor and immediate past President of TACA presented Jeter with the annual Jerry Ware Award. The award commemorates the Jefferson county auditor who passed away from cancer in 1994. In introducing the award, Klein said that “Jerry was a man who embodied leadership, compassion, and common sense. The board chooses one person every year – a person who has those traits and who steps up. Jerry was a person who stepped up and helped out. Melissa is one of those people.”

In addition to Jeter’s contributions to the association as TACA vice-president, Klein said that she personally appreciated Jeter’s East Texas charm and common sense. “When things come up in my county,” Klein stated, “I ask myself, ‘What would Melissa do?’” Klein went on to thank Jeter for all the time and effort she put into improving county government and the auditors association.

While accepting the award, Jeter praised the commissioners. “I couldn’t have done this without the support of the Commissioners Court. I learn so much every day. It will be twenty-five years doing this job, and I learn something every day. So thank you all.”

Moving on to other agenda items, Joel Martin, Courthouse Bailiff, reported that between August 15, 2022 – December 15, 2022, 4,834 people entered the courthouse building. Election Administrator Cindy Lum announced the need for new polling places and asked the Commissioners Court for suggestions and recommendations.

The court voted to approve the resignation of Veterans Service Officer Milton Ladnier and to appoint Joshua Caldwell to the position.

Several representatives from Latexo Baptist Church addressed the court, requesting aid from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund for their Valentine Banquet to be held on Saturday, Feb. 11. While sympathetic to their cause, the commissioners passed on the request, citing that the stipulation for receiving funds correlates to the number of overnight guests expected to stay in local hotels. Because this is the first year the event has been offered to the public, there is no basis for how many out-of-towners it would attract.   

The court approved an agreement with NCR for online and over-the-counter credit card transactions for payment of taxes and registration/titling transactions for the Houston County Tax Office, fees for which will be passed to the customer. Commissioners also appointed Laura Goolsby, District Clerk, to replace Carolyn Rains as a member of the Human Resource Committee.

Approval was given to purchase items using funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for twelve VHF 5W 260 Channel radios and programming for Jail/Dispatch at the cost of $4,748 and a 2012 Mack CHU 613 truck for Road & Bridge Precinct 4 for $45,000.

Authorization was also given to the County Grant Administrator to apply for a grant through the Texas General Land Office Community Development and Revitalization CDBG-MIT Funds for the County’s Local Share of the Houston County Hazard Mitigation Action Plan Update.

Budget amendments and plans were made for beginning renovations on the former Jail located at 110 E. Houston Ave. and to prepare for the relocation of several county offices. Currently, the county is trying to obtain several bids for the work, which will include updating the flooring, paint, lighting, ceiling tiles, cabling, and phones. The county plans to use inmate labor for cleaning and demolition and has authorized a budget amendment of $35,000 from the contingency funds to pay for expenses. The court also approved the budget amendment request from the contingency fund of $15,709 for boiler pump repairs and tank insulation in the County Jail.

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