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Court reviews county projects, approves fireworks sales

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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Prior to its regular meeting Tuesday, the Polk County Commissioners Court participated in a workshop to review the process for, and significance of, the selection of county projects that will receive funding through the Hurricane Harvey Regional Mitigation Program. Leslie Waxman with David J. Waxman Inc. and Pat Oaks with Goodwin Lasiter Strong were there to provide information.

When the Court convened in regular session, an order authorizing the sale of fireworks during the Texas Independence Day period of Feb. 25 through midnight March 2 was approved, as the Court had previously consulted with the emergency management coordinator, the local volunteer fire departments and the Texas Forest Service.

Due to pending litigation in the 411th Judicial District, the Court approved rescheduling its May 9 and May 23 meetings to May 16 and May 30.

The Court receives a nuisance abatement hearing determination for Cause Numbers A00519 and A00532 and approved orders to abate the nuisance.

A residential property donation consisting of .4706 acre in Yaupon Cove Subdivision in Precinct 2 with a market value of $15,375 was considered, with the Court ultimately rejecting the donation. There are a little over $1,200 in back taxes due and the property cannot be auctioned without a settlement.

The Court approved requests for a variance from Polk County subdivision regulation design standards Section 8.B.2 for Marston Manor located in Precinct 3 and also approved subdivision regulations for the development.

The Court approved authorization to begin the procurement process for disaster debris removal services and consider the appointment of a scoring committee for the purpose of reviewing and rating the proposals and qualifications received. Those that will serve on the scoring committee include Emergency Management Coordinator Courtney Comstock, Jennifer Thompson, representatives from Texas Division of Emergency Management and the new county liaison officer.

Approval of professional service agreements for the Dallardsville Segno Community Development Block Grant Program 2021 Water Project and the General Land Office Hurricane Harvey Regional Mitigation Program were approved, specifically, David J. Waxman Inc. for administrative services and Goodwin Lasiter Strong for engineering services.

Action regarding the IAH Public Facility Corporation Board of Directors was taken. Although Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Sarah Rasberry was appointed last April to replace former Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Darrell Longino, Rasberry has since been appointed to serve on the mental health board, so Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Terri L. Mayer was appointed to take Rasberry’s place on the IAH board.

The Court approved the formation of three committees – one to review and assess purchasing and procurement policies and provide a recommendation; one to review the county driver/vehicle policy and provide a recommended update; and a cybersecurity committee to review protocol and procedures and develop a contingency plan. Becky Marsh, Jessica Hutchins and a representative from the county auditor’s office were appointed to the purchasing and procurement policy committee and input will be provided from the district clerk, county clerk, county judge, treasurer, sheriff’s office and jail. The county driver/vehicle policy committee will include Courtney Comstock, Kari Miller, Mary Beth Weatherford and representatives from the auditor’s, treasurer’s and sheriff’s offices. District Clerk Bobbye Christopher, County Clerk Schelana Hock, IT Director Casey Lowrie and Byron Dunaway of the sheriff’s office were appointed to the cybersecurity committee.

An offer to purchase tax foreclosure property, specifically Lot 20 of Block 5 of Kickapoo Forest in Precinct 2 was approved.

In personnel matters, the Court reviewed personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and six authorized emergency hirings – four at the sheriff’s office, one at the district attorney’s office and one at Precinct 3 Road and Bridge.

The Court approved the fiscal year 2023 budget revisions and amendments as presented by the county auditor’s office and also approved a request from Polk County Criminal District Attorney Shelly Sitton to reclassify a portion of the fiscal year 2023 salary budget as contract labor.

In old business, the Court approved the minutes of the Jan. 10 regular meeting.

Len Fairbanks addressed the Court during the portion of the meeting reserved for public comment. Commenting that he was there regarding item number 23 on the agenda, “discussion of the current RV park regulations impact on the expansion of existing RV parks,” he said he has a client who owns The Pines on Lake Livingston and has spent about $200,000 in infrastructure during the three years that he has owned it and now wants to add seven spots.

Addressing the Court, Jed Morris, the county’s engineer with Goodwin Lasiter Strong, said he recommends that once an RV park is modified or expanded, that it not be grandfathered. “The key thing, in my opinion, is that it’s one tract of land.”

During informational reports, County Judge Sydney Murphy addressed the Court, emphasizing, “The legislature is in session now. Please pay attention to the Senate bills and the House bills that are coming out.”

Items on the consent agenda included:

Approval of the minutes of the Jan. 24 regular meeting;

Approval of a correction to the minutes of the Sept. 27, 2022 regular meeting;

Approval of the schedule of bills;

Approval of an order designating surplus property;

Approval of the installation of two doors for the Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace courtroom, not to exceed $1,000, to be funded by the justice court security fund;

Ratification of the guaranteed maximum price amendment to the agreement with J.C. Stoddard for the courthouse restoration project;

Acceptance of a community development block grant program award for the Dallardsville Segno 2021 Water Project, in the amount of $350,000;

Receipt of the treasurer’s corrected fiscal year 2022 fourth quarter report;

Receipt of the treasurer’s fiscal year 2023 first quarter report;

Receipt of the treasurer’s monthly report for November 2022; and

Approval of use of $7,823.94 from information technology capital outlay to repair or replace IT equipment (budgeted funds) for the replacement of network switch.

Robert Murphy of First Baptist Church Providence opened the meeting with prayer.

Two executive sessions were on Tuesday’s agenda, one that morning to discuss the purchase of real property, although no action was taken upon return to open session. The other, slated for Tuesday afternoon, was to discuss and consider filling the position of human resources director. Three potential candidates were interviewed and upon return to open session, the Court approved the employment of Fern Cadenhead.

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