By Alton Porter
CROCKETT – Houston County government officials have shown that they have been and are in support of summer concerts and other performance events in the county by granting funds to entertainment sponsors.
Members of the county’s commissioners court voted to approve requests for funding from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund to three entertainment sponsorship organizations at a regular meeting of the court Tuesday, July 27.
The commissioners approved granting $3,000 to Salmon Lake Enterprises LP to assist in covering expenses incurred by putting on the Camp Rock Fest (Pitmasters Edition) held in Salmon Lake Park, in Grapeland, this past weekend.
In addition, the commissioners granted $2,000 to sponsors of the 84th World Champion Fiddlers Festival, which is scheduled to be held in Porth Ag Arena, in Crockett, Friday-Saturday, Sept. 24-25.
The commissioners voted to grant Piney Woods Fine Arts Association (PWFAA) $3,000 to help cover expenses being incurred by sponsoring three concerts to be held in the Crockett Civic Center next month.
The events are a Marshall Tucker Band concert scheduled Friday, Aug. 6, an Exile Band concert to take place Friday, Aug. 20, and a Kevin Costner and the Modern West Band concert slated Friday, Aug. 27.
Concerning the upcoming Costner and band Aug. 20 concert, Ann Walker, the PWFAA’s executive director, said, “We’re very lucky to get him (Costner); I think he’s going to be quite shocked when he pulls into Crockett, Texas.”
Walker added, “People are coming from everywhere. There’s not a hotel room available for that day. We’ve made national news in our part of the world for this—for bringing him. We are sending out emails to everybody from out of town of things to do, places to stay, places to eat…. We’re paying Kevin more money than we’ve ever paid, anybody and it paid off,” she said. She said people are coming from states as far away as Pennsylvania to attend the show.
Historical Commission recognized for service
The commissioners delivered a 2020 Distinguished Service Award to the county’s historical commission from the Texas Historical Commission. The award was presented to the Houston County Historical Commission “in recognition of its active and well-balanced preservation program.”
Wanda Jordan, chairperson of the county’s historical commission, told the county commissioners and other meeting attendees, this marks 15 years in a row that the county historical commission has been presented the award by the state historical commission—even including last year despite the shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We actually think that we contributed 1,520 hours to the county and a lot of it didn’t get recorded last year because a lot of our people continued to work at home,” Jordan said. “We can keep the office open three days a week consistently and sometimes four. It depends on how many volunteers we have.
“So, having said that, we’re always looking for volunteers. So, if anybody has any time, come over (to the office); we’ll put you to work.
“We do like to re-emphasize that our whole purpose in existing is to protect and promote the cultural and historical aspect of Houston County, and we’re deeply appreciative of the county for the office space we have (in the county courthouse annex building), the light bill we don’t have to pay, the internet we don’t have to pay. We understand we have a prime location and we do appreciate that.”
Jordan added “We had enough meetings last year to qualify for what the state requires; they did make some adjustments for their requirements so that we didn’t have to meet in person in order to maintain the viability because they were working with the fact that we couldn’t get workers together. So, we did not have the required number of meetings, but they let it go because they couldn’t do anything else.”
The commissioners voted to pass a motion accepting as information the fact that the county historical commission was awarded for its volunteers’ distinguished service by the state historical commission.
In other business, the commissioners approved interlocal agreements between the county and the Deep East Texas Council of Governments and Economic Development District for GIS (Government Information System) & NG (Next Generation) 9-1-1 automatic location information maintenance services for fiscal 2022-2023.
A resolution to establish newly purchased county voting equipment as the official election system for early and election day voting was adopted by a motion which carried on a vote taken by the commissioners.
The commissioners voted to accept a donation of 20 box fans, valued at $357, from Houston County Good Samaritan Charity to be distributed to clients of Houston County Aging Services.
In addition, the commissioners accepted negotiated interest rates with the county depository, Citizens National Bank, as authorized under Local Government Code 116.021(b) for the final two years of a four-year contract.
Certified appraisal roll values, presented by county Tax Assessor-Collector Laronica Smith were accepted by the commissioners.
The commissioners voted to approve amending the county’s employee life insurance plan waiting period to coincide with the employee health insurance waiting period of the first month following 60 days.
The county government’s elected precinct leaders voted to approve a lease-purchase for the county with BancorpSouth Equipment Finance for 13 months for a 2022 dump truck for Precinct 2 in an amount not to exceed $135,000. In addition, the commissioners approved the making of necessary budget amendments for the lease-purchase.
In addition, an agreement for a similar lease-purchase with BancorpSouth for five years for a dump truck for Precinct 1 in an amount not to exceed $130,000 was approved along with authorization for the making of necessary budget amendments.
A motion to amend a master contract with Valic for employee deductions for a 457(b) retirement account carried on a voted taken by the commissioners.
The commissioners approved a proposal for the county to submit to Texas Association of Counties for renewal of liability insurance for fiscal year 2021-2022.
And the commissioners voted to designate a 2012 county vehicle as surplus and to authorize advertising to accept bids for the sale of the vehicle.