Road Woes Addressed
By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – During the first meeting of the New Year, the Houston County Commissioners Court received a presentation from Texas Futura, LLC.
Texas Futura, LLC is a used oil re-refinery company which plans to build a facility in the Crockett Industrial Park.
According to an executive summary on the projected economic impact of the company, “Texas Futura is a planned waste-oil re-refinery facility in the Crockett Industrial Park. The facility, on about four acres of land will consist of 2,000 square feet of office space; 3,000 square feet for a control tower, employee breakroom, restrooms, etc.; 7,500 square feet for refinery operations and another 5,000 square feet of space for storage tanks.”
The matter of Texas Futura was previously addressed in the Dec. 11 meeting of the court when the company was denied a tax abatement by the court.
At the time, Precinct Two Commissioner Willie Kitchen said the court “… would like to see something other than paper. There is no site plan included in the proposal. I think we want to see the investors show some money and bring some proof this is going to happen.”
Kitchen added he was only speaking for himself but added the abatement would probably be easier to get if the investors provided tangible proof of their intent.
On hand for the Monday, Jan. 8 presentation were Karthik Sundaram (Texas Futura VP of Operations and Sales) and Nelson Varughese (Texas Futura VP of Admin. and HR).
Sundaram explained the company took used oil and re-refined it for repurposing. He added the company is well-versed in the oil re-refinery business and said he had learned the industry from his father. Varughese explained he had been in the oil business for over 20 years and had worked for a Kuwaiti oil company.
The operations VP said the company had plans to hire 10 direct employees but hoped to expand in the future. The matter was for discussion only and no action was taken by the court.
Prior to the re-refinery discussion, road woes were addressed by county resident Lonnie Ellis who said the roadways leading up to his residence were a mess and requested the county’s assistance.
A Precinct Three resident also spoke about the roads and questioned how the county or precinct prioritized roadwork. She also requested transparency in how and where the county money was spent on the roads.
The precinct two commissioner replied budgetary constraints were a major factor in how county roadwork was prioritized. As far as how and where the money was spent, Kitchen said all of the information was available through the Open Records Act but added a request for said information must be made.
Also on the agenda concerning roadways was Grapeland resident Robert Duhon. Duhon said recently two speed bumps had been placed near the entrance to Vulcraft and when he asked the precinct two commissioner, Kitchen replied it was what Vulcraft wanted.
“Well, Vulcraft pays a lot of taxes in this county, I’m sure. But I pay my little old taxes just like everyone else here. I think my voice should be heard just like Vulcraft’s,” Duhon said.
When he took his concern about the speed bumps to the Vulcraft GM, he was told it was safety issue.
“I just wanted to come here today and be on the record that I complained. I complained to the GM. I complained to the Texas Department of Highways and complained to everyone I could,” he said.
Kitchen replied he was asked to attend a meeting at Vulcraft and confirmed the speed bumps were placed there for safety reasons.
“Would I do it again? Yes, I would. And did Vulcraft ask? Yes, they did,” Kitchen said.
As he continued, Kitchen said he had invited Vulcraft Traffic Manager Jeff Jeffcoat to the meeting to provide some statistics about the Vulcraft intersection.
Jeffcoat said the intersection had been maintained by the steel company for over 50 years and added, “We have over 16,000 trucks go through that intersection annually. That is 32,000 trips, in and out. They are loaded half the time so 16,000 trucks carrying 80,000 pounds – we know we are the cause of the damage to that intersection.”
Adding in all the employees, delivery drivers and all support vehicles, Jeffcoat said it roughly totaled 54,000 vehicles visiting the plant on an annual basis.
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 was approved.
- The Houston County Environmental and Community Service reports were received as information by the court.
- The court approved salaries for new and transfer employees.
- The court received as information the appointments of: Loyce Netardus as Chief Deputy County Treasurer; Janice Turner as the Chief Deputy County Clerk; Lera “Patti” George as Chief Deputy District Clerk; and Belinda Hinson as the Director of Aging Services.
- The contract with Buell Sanitation for household/commercial garbage service for the southern part of Houston County was renewed.
- Donations in the amount of $1,000 for law enforcement – by an anonymous donor – and a $2,000 donation from the Elks Lodge to augment the Houston County Senior Center food budget were accepted by the court.
- The Piney Woods Fine Arts Association was awarded $1,000 in Hotel Occupancy Tax funds for the upcoming Music and Arts Festival scheduled for March.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.