Hanks turns over the keys to the historic Robertson County Courthouse

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Monday’s Commissioners’ Court marked the end of a long process beginning with the construction of the courthouse annex and ending with the completion of the historic courthouse’ re-construction last week. Though a few punch list items need attention, Construction Manager Jim Hanks said that the keys had been turned over on Monday and the county offices are prepared for the movers coming on Monday, February 2. The historic jail is scheduled for completion in March, and, Judge Jan Roe reminded Hanks, the leases on all rented offices for law enforcement are up on March 31. Election Center architects met with contractors last week, said Hanks, and construction plans are nearly complete.
After approving minutes and bonds and oaths, the Court recognized Election Administrator Trudy Hancock who reported that no voter id’s had been made over the three days election office staff had spent in Bremond, Calvert and Hearne, one day in each location. Though two citizens had come in to ask questions, none had asked for picture id’s. Roe said that the County had to make the effort to improve voter access.
County Tax/Assessor Collector Carol Bielamowicz reported that revenue totaling $280,372.81 had been collected in November. The Court approved a refund in the case of taxes that had been double paid and the dismissal of penalty and interest charges in the cases of two tax payers who had not received their notices.
Next, the Court renewed the treasurer’s office’s postage machine contract, not to exceed a charge of $52 a month, with Pitney Bowes and approved the renaming of Carlos Street, a private road near Lake Limestone, to S. Lanier Point Rd. since another “Carlos Street” existed in Thornton, the city postal route in which Lanier Point Rd. and private lanes off of it reside.
Mayor Charles Ellison, members of the Franklin City Council, and the city’s engineer addressed the court with their concerns about the water run-off from the courthouse square and the streets to the north that are draining onto Methodist Church property. Their handicapped ramp is covered with moss from the moisture and becoming impassible.
Hanks said that part of the original problem had been fixed but water was going to drain from the high point above the courthouse square. The second problem is water collecting underneath the historic courthouse that is supposed to be collected into large tanks and pumped out. The tanks are full, the pumps have to be used elsewhere, and the run off is going into the street and onto church property. The Franklin City engineer had plans that would require additional water lines at an estimated cost of $50,000 to the County. Hanks said pipes would have to connect with the main water conduit running along Hwy. 79 and owned by TXDOT. He said he didn’t know if TXDOT would agree.
After some discussion, it was agreed that the County would use the pct. 2 and pct. 1 water tanks, hire pumps, and empty the tanks. The County would also help move the ramp to a dryer location. In addition, Hanks agreed to meet with the Franklin engineer to look at other solutions. Both sides are willing to wait and see if emptying the tanks so water will flow into them will solve the problem.
Next, the panel approved a refund to Sheriff’s Department employees who had gone to Pensacola, FA to check out a drug dog. The County SO had been looking for one for some time and window of opportunity to acquire this dog was very narrow, said Chief Deputy Jerry Stover.
The Commissioners opted not to set a burn ban but Commissioner Keith Petitt (Pct. 1) reminded residents that grass is very dry on top and winds are high, making for a dangerous fire hazard. Since the ground underneath is wet, said Petitt, fire trucks could get bogged down before they reached a fire.
The panel voted to accept the bid from Boyd Construction for $6500 (the only bid tendered), to repair the roof and façade damage to the tax office and also replace the roofing screws with gaskets since the existing gaskets are dry and cracked, creating the potential for water leaks. Commissioner Donald Threadgill (Pct. 2) suggested the County allow Boyd to use screws with caps to prevent damage to new gaskets.
It tabled acceptance of road material through TXDOT with Threadgill stating that the price was almost three times higher than what the County was currently paying and he and the other Commissioners doubted the quality was any higher. It also tabled action on making final application to the state for a grant to create a County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone until all the paper work was completed. One suggestion had been made that the Zone be the road running through the City of Hearne Industrial Park and in front of Camp Hearne, but, said Roe, that would not work because entities along the road were non-profits and would not be paying for the improvements through increased tax values. Though the proposed zone is in precinct 3, all 4 precincts will benefit from state grant funds.
The Court approved a budget amendment and an invoice listing of $230,749.67 plus a single invoice of $2303.99. It moved $9,737.49 in revenue from the sale of Pct. 4 equipment to the Pct. 4 Road and Bridge budget, allowing Commissioner Bielamowicz to use the funds, and it tabled approval of the monthly and annual report, and the Commissioner’s Road report until the Auditor’s office could catch up. It approved an increase in historic courthouse insurance from $6 million to $8.5 million, reflecting the increased cost to reconstruct the building in case of disaster. It did approve a budget expenditure from the Sheriff’s Forfeiture Fund for the purchase of a backup radio, already program and ready to go if the main 911 system fails. With all agenda items addressed, the Court adjourned.

Melissa Freeman \ Robertson County News

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