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July 4th fireworks approved for now

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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Polk County Fire Marshal John Fugate addressed the Polk County Commissioners Court during its regular meeting Tuesday regarding the drought index in relation to the upcoming July 4th fireworks season.

“Right now, I think we’re okay. Of course, in the future, in a couple of weeks, is another thing,” Fugate said. The Court approved the use of fireworks with the understanding that Fugate may come back as the holiday gets closer with a differing opinion.

Following an executive session to discuss the purchase of real property, the Court reconvened and approved the purchase of two tracts. The first tract is approximately 325 acres adjacent to the landfill on the north side. The Court approved purchasing the property for $5,500 per acre for a purchase price totaling $1,787,500 granting the adjacent landowner a 150-foot buffer. The second tract is the 300 block of North Beaty where the Habitat for Humanity ReSale Store and Anco Insurance are located. The Court approved purchasing the building and parking lot for $1,269,028.20. The county has been leasing a portion of the parking lot for some time. Both purchases will be made from the county’s general fund.

The Court reappointed County Judge Sydney Murphy and Precinct 1 Commissioner Guylene Robertson to serve on the Deep East Texas Council of Governments Board of Directors for the 2023-2024 term.

Action regarding the re-bid of #2023-11, for the removal and replacement of windows at the Dunbar Complex located at 1114 N. Dogwood Ave. in Livingston and the disposal of all debris, was approved. The Court approved moving forward with the project even though it will cost approximately $30,000 more than budgeted.

The Court approved an agreement with BDO USA, LLP for forensic auditing and forensic technology services for the Polk County Jail commissary account. County Auditor Louis Ploth emphasized that this service is being paid for by insurance money and not by the county.

A request from the Precinct 1 commissioner for an exemption from the Polk County RV Park regulations to permit two RVs on personal property for private use, per an affidavit from the landowner, was approved.

The Court approved a road and bridge equipment lease/purchase through Interlocal Purchasing Systems, thereby satisfying the competitive bidding requirements, pursuant to East Texas Mack Sales L.L.C. quotations for: the purchase of eight new 2024 Mack GR64F cab and chassis units (with M-drive, ox dumpbodies and pintle hitches) at $166,040 each with a 12-month trade allowance of $151,040 each unit, assuming each trade-in unit meets all trade terms, to be paid from the road and bridge capital leases fund; the trade/buyback of six 2023 and two 2022 Mack GR64F trucks at $126,000 each for the units currently leased by each road & bridge precinct, assuming each trade-in unit meets all trade terms; and a resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Cadence Equipment Finance, a division of Cadence Bank, relating to the estimated June purchase of road and bridge equipment, eight new 2024 Mack GR64FR cab and chassis units equipped with dump bed (to include the trade-in of six 2023 units and two 2022 units and authorizing the county judge to execute said agreement/s on behalf of the county.

In personnel matters, the Court reviewed and approved personnel action form requests submitted by department heads since the last meeting and reviewed an authorized emergency hiring in the aging department. The Court also approved the governor’s bond and oath of office for Steven Hullihen, the appointed tax assessor-collector, for the term beginning June 1, 2023.

In related activity, the Court accepted a letter from Hullihen. “The Tax Assessor-Collectors of Texas Association’s Code of Ethics provides in part that the assessor-collector shall disclose any real or potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, I have prepared a statement that I would like entered into the minutes. First of all, as the interim tax assessor-collector, I will not run for office after the term for which I was appointed to office expires. All candidates who choose to run for office will have a fair opportunity to run in next year’s election. Also, my spouse is the office manager for the county tax collection law firm. Therefore, I will not participate in any discussion regarding the Linebarger Law Firm’s contract with the county, nor will I take part in any decision that is related to their office or firm. I would be happy to address any concerns of the Court.”

Fiscal year 2023 budget revisions and amendments, as presented by the county auditor’s

office, were approved.

In old business, the Court discussed and approved an amendment to the agreement with Integrated Prescription Management for indigent healthcare programs and tabled action on the fiscal year 2024 employee benefits, specifically, employee health coverage - major medical.

During information reports, the Court recognized the recipients of the Polk County Commissioners Court Bobby Smith Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson. They are Neviah Hickox of Big Sandy ISD, Olivia Medina of Corrigan-Camden ISD, Alejandra Perez of Goodrich ISD, Kylie Valderez of Leggett ISD, Sierra Rains of Livingston ISD and Brady Smith of Onalaska ISD. They also recognized the recipients of the law enforcement scholarship, sponsored by Management & Training Corporation, operators of the lAH Secure Adult Detention Facility. They are Cooper Smith of Big Sandy ISD, Olivia Medina of Corrigan-Camden ISD, Pascual Flores of Goodrich ISD and Taylor Tolar of Livingston ISD.

The Court also receive notice of a public hearing from the City of Livingston scheduled for June 13 regarding the annexation of 34.04 acres of the M.L. Choate A-15 and

Bridger Hobbs A-327 surveys at 617 FM 350 South.

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Tyler Epstein and Billy Lambeth addressed the Court during the portion of the meeting reserved for public comment.

Items on the consent agenda included:

Approval of the minutes of the May 30 regular meeting;

Approval of the schedules of bills;

Approval of an order designating surplus property;

Receive and record personnel action forms submitted by elected officials since the last meeting;

Approval of the renewal of an interlocal agreement with Texas Association of Counties risk management pool and application for provision of insurance coverages to include workers compensation, auto (physical damage and liability) and general public officials, law enforcement liabilities;

Approval of the renewal of the host agency agreement with Motivation Education & Training NSRC (Met) for the senior community service employment program for July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024;

Approval of the lease agreement renewing supplemental county parking at 321 N. Beatty Ave.;

Approval of an amended and restated memorandum of understanding with the Piney Wood Lakes Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, the East Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc. and Polk County for the beneficial management of natural resources at the East Texas Electric Cooperative Hydroelectric Plant Gazebo;

Approval of an amendment to the funding agreement with the Texas Historical Commission for the Polk County Courthouse restoration grant;

Receive donation from the Polk County Higher Education & Technology Foundation equivalent to the Polk County Commerce Center property insurance renewal;

Approval of the submittal of a request to the state comptroller for unclaimed rural electric cooperative capital credits;

Acceptance of the fiscal year 2023 indigent defense formula grant No. 212-23-187;

Approval of a road use agreement between Polk County Precinct 4 and Umbriel (H. Brown Inc.); and

Rescinding the order abandoning San Francisco in Precinct 1 and adding it to the master street address guide.

Sheriff Byron Lyons opened the meeting with prayer.

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