Commissioners prepare for Courthouse opening

With the clock in the tower and interior spaces near completion, the Commissioners Court plans to move back into its own courtroom next month, along with county officers that will return to their home office space. On Monday, County Judge Jan Roe heard from Construction Manager Jim Hanks who said work was still progressing on time and on budget, meaning the County would be able to occupy its Historic Courthouse in January.
In other business, the Court accepted collections reports of $31,948.60 from the County Clerk’s office, $8,758.25 from the District Clerk’s office—both representing November collections. The Tax Office reported $26,344.11 collected for October.
The Commissioners voted to allow Tri-County Special Utility District to construct a waterline under Redbank Creek Rd., pending the company’s meeting with Commissioner Robert Bielamowicz to discuss the details. It passed on plans to work with the Fair Association to gravel the Fair Arena parking lot until it could get more details about what needed to be done.
Alan Day, Brazos Valley Groundwater District Director, gave his annual report, declaring that the Water Board had become a highly functional group, making effective discussions to monitor and conserve the district’s ground water. Every permit request the panel had received had been considered carefully, he said. Rules governing well placement had been changed to benefit agriculture, he added. Day also reported that the District was beginning to fulfill its education mandate by presenting water cycle/conservation programs to the schools. He concluded by assuring the Court that the County’s main source of water, the Simsboro Aquifer, was recovering from recent droughts.
The Commissioners approved a holiday schedule much like the 2013 schedule, taking an extra day off at Christmas and not observing Columbus Day. It threw 1000 of its votes (shares) for Appraisal District Board behind Terry Williams, siting the good work he had already done on the Board, and the 152 remaining votes to George Yezak. It authorized a payment from Hotel/Motel Tax funds to the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association to renew the County’s membership (in exchange for the Association’s publicizing of County hotels, motels, and B & B’s, among other benefits) and voted to make all county law enforcement part of the Wright Express Fleet Program. Program membership allows law enforcement to purchase fuel anywhere.
The Court approved a budget amendment for the Sheriff’s Office and an invoice listing of $559,296.68, over half for Courthouse and jail construction. It approved a payment of $105.90 to Southwest Solutions for Netlabels, and accepted the Franklin Cowboys’ expenditure report. Then the Court authorized Terri Reistino to sign the Standard Texas Exempt License Plates application while County Auditor Candy Anderson is recovering from a recent illness.
The panel spend the last minutes of its bi-monthly meeting considering a State grant available to counties that have suffered damage to infrastructure due to oil and gas development. Roe said that Robertson County was eligible to receive over $700,000 from the grant but, since the grant had somewhat strict requirements (including a 20% match), some counties had opted not to apply and she believed the County could receive more. The Court favored going for the grant and asking for at least double the eligible amount, the match coming from Road and Bridge contingency funds.
The Court agreed to meet with a representative from GrantWorks on Wednesday to hash out the details and possibly hire GrantWorks to apply on the County’s behave. The grant would require that the county set up a reinvestment zone or zones with a 10 year plan for zone improvement using grant and county funds. Pin Oak Road was one suggested reinvestment zone area.

Melissa Freeman / Robertson County News

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