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County making improvements with ARPA funds

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Polk County Commissioners Court approved eligible projects to be funded by the remainder of the American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 was a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress and signed into law in March 2021 to speed up the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.

“We received $9,974,718 and this was a historic opportunity to fund projects to imp-rove the county,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said, referring to the broadband access, water infrastructure projects and courtroom technology already approved.

“We have approximately $1 million left for eligible projects,” Murphy said, adding that the monies must be expended, or at least committed, by the end of 2023. She suggested some of the funds going to the district clerk and county clerk for records preservation; some going to the two local ambulance services for automated CPR devices; some going to the 10 local volunteer fire departments; and the remainder to be divided between the four road and bridge precincts.

A public hearing on proposed subdivision regulations drew no comment so the Court approved the proposed subdivision regulations and the recreational vehicle parks and manufactured home rental community regulations.

The Court approved requests for capital purchases to be paid from the general fund balance and included on the fiscal year 2023 reimbursement resolution for the year-end issuance of legally authorized debt, specifically, after-market equipment on six leased vehicles for the sheriff’s department in the amount of $97,283.46 and information technology rotation in the amount of $10,908.

An order regulating certain fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the county during the December holiday period was approved for adoption.

A memorandum of understanding between Polk County and the Precinct 1 constable’s office to provide constable reserve deputy patrol in Precinct 1 was approved.

New boundary lines for the Segno, Alabama-Coushatta and Indian Springs volunteer fire departments were discussed and approved.

The Court authorized the purchase of equipment for the recycling center, specifically, a $15,000 yard ramp, from the waste management fund balance, to be reimbursed by grant proceeds.

A request to the Texas Department of Transportation for county acceptance of reclaimed asphalt was approved.

The Court approved a request for variance from the county subdivision regulations for Section 3 Block 3 of Rolling Pines Subdivision located in Precinct 2 to waive the construction bond requirement. In related activity, the Court approved Section 3 Block 3 of Rolling Pines Subdivision.

A request from Penwaugh Marina in Precinct 2 for exemption from the county recreational vehicle parks regulations was approved.

The Court approved the appointment of Joe Ann Manry, Laverne Taylor and Emily Wooten to the Polk County Historical Commission for the 2023-2024 two-year term.

Selected annually by a designated committee, the Court presented the 2022 Excellence in Safety Award to Sherilyn Epperson, an employee of the Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace office. Epperson received a $250 gift card.

Kari Miller, county liaison to Polk County Recycling & Beautification, presented the organization’s annual report. (See sidebar, page xx.)

In personnel matters, the Court approved the personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and reviewed three authorized emergency hirings in the county clerk’s office.

Additionally, fiscal year 2022 budget revisions and fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023 budget amendments, as presented by the county auditor’s office, were approved.

Items on the consent agenda included:

Approval of the minutes of the Nov. 22 regular meeting;

Approval of the schedules of bills;

Approval of an order designating surplus property;

Approval of bonds for elected officials whose terms begin Jan. 1, 2023;

Approval of appointment of Jeffrey Choate and Darius Hart to reserve deputy fire marshal;

Approval of agreement renewing the lease of the Pritchard property utilized for courthouse parking;

Approval of renewal agreement between Polk and Throckmorton counties for gravel excavation on Polk County school land (for use only on roads located within or adjacent to school lands);

Approval of permit to construct access driveway facilities on highway right of way on Red Lowe Road and Hwy. 190 West;

Accept request from district clerk to add Polk County Recycling & Beautification to the juror reimbursement donation list;

Approval of transfer of Deep East Texas Council of Government’s surplus plotter equipment to county 911 rural addressing;

Accept governor’s fiscal year 2023 criminal justice grant for special victims officer at the sheriff’s department;

Accept the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance for evidence/procurement manager position at the sheriff’s department;

Approval of use of $2,618.23 from maintenance capital outlay buildings (budgeted funds) for the repair and remodel of the Polk County gun range;

Approval of request from Precinct 1 Constable Scott Hughes for asset forfeiture expenditure of seized property not to exceed $963 for vehicle maintenance and repair; and

Approval of request from county treasurer to add a Texpool account for the sheriff’s asset forfeiture funds.

Rev. Brian Wharton of the First United Methodist Church of Onalaska opened the meeting with prayer.


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