By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioners Court met in a relatively short meeting on Tuesday, May 23 and received both good and bad news during the court session.

The last listed item on the court’s agenda was a positive for the county. Precinct Two Commissioner Willie Kitchen said he recently received an unsolicited phone call from a representative of Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. concerning improvements to a portion of County Road (CR) 2210 in his precinct.

“He asked if they needed permits to improve CR 2210, at the end of FM 227, down to the entrance to their plant,” the commissioner said.

Kitchen said after a brief discussion, it was determined it would be best if the county handled the project and was reimbursed for the work.

“What they have agreed to do – and the county attorney (Daphne Session) has had a chance to look over the agreement and has given her blessing – is that I will submit an estimate and they will pay up to 125 percent of my estimate,” Kitchen explained.

He said the plan was to lime stabilize eight inches of the existing road, then apply eight inches of limestone and to replace any culverts/drainage devices that need to be serviced.

“They have even e-mailed a plan of grading, slopes and elevations. They have gone above and beyond. I’m not sure what their plan is because the plant has been there for probably 50 or 75 years, but it sounds like they are going to upgrade the plant because of the new pipeline that came through out there,” he said.

Kitchen went on to say he had estimated the project at $160,000 and stressed it would not cost the county any money.

“I based this upon previous projects of the same scope on the same road we did on the state infrastructure grant. That’s how I came up with the estimate. Of course that was two years ago and prices have gone a little bit since then. We are going to be between $150,000 and $200,000 that they are willing to write us a check for,” he said.

After several minutes of discussion about fleshing out the contract and changing some of the current wording in the agreement, a motion to approve the agreement between the county and Sunoco was unanimously approved.

Prior to the road improvement discussion, County Judge Jim Lovell informed the court he had received a letter from the Houston County Appraisal District.

“The 2017 estimated appraisal values, compared to the 2016 certified values, shows we are down $56 million in appraisals. That computes to $305,000 in real money. It will be a challenge,” he said.

In essence, what this means is the county will have $305,000 less in funding to provide the same level of services as provided by the county in the previous fiscal year.

In other matters brought before the court:

  • The commissioners approved the minutes from previous meetings.
  • The payment of bills and expenses incurred by the county were approved.
  • The County Treasurer’s and Compensatory reports were received as information by the commissioners.
  • The court approved the salary for a new full-time dispatcher at the Houston County Sheriff’s Office.
  • A contract extension between DETCOG and Houston County Aging Services was approved.
  • A lease purchase for the purchase of a new delivery van for the home delivered meal program was approved by the court.
  • A revised and amended lease cancellation with The Texas Facilities Commission (Texas Health and Human Services) was approved by the court.
  • Requests for qualifications (RFQs) for energy performance contracts along with RFQs for the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant program were approved by the court.
  • The court approved the submittal of Requests for Proposals for pre-disaster contracts for debris removal and other necessary services.

Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.