By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioners Court met in a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 28. Highlighting the meeting was a discussion about the Local State of Disaster order for Houston County due to COVID-19.
“This order and proclamation are both in our packets,” County Judge Jim Lovell said. “It mirrors exactly what the governor’s (Gov. Greg Abbott) executive order does. I’m sure most of you saw the governor’s press conference yesterday or heard about what he has done.”
County Attorney Daphne Session added, “He (Gov. Abbott) is going to let the current order expire on April 30, as it is supposed to. The new opening up of businesses with the 25% starts on May 1. He said we will see how that goes and Phase 2 will start on May 18.”
Houston County Emergency Management Coordinator Roger Dickey joined the conversation and said, “I just got a call that we may have another case. We’re in a position now where our cases are increasing. One thing that concerns me is I saw the latest reports this morning and Eastham (Prison Unit) has eight. We still have employees there who work there and inter-mingle in and out of the community. We can’t undercut the governor’s order. We have expended some funds and (County Auditor) Melissa (Jeter) is tracking that. If we decide – and TDEM (Texas Department of Emergency Management) has suggested we do – submit a request for public assistance to recoup some of that, we would qualify. We need this declaration to remain in place in case we have to go that route. Plus, we never know what tomorrow will bring.”
The court approved extending the Declaration of Local State of Disaster due to Public Health for Houston County Emergency until Gov. Abbot’s order expires.
The county judge’s order can be found on the Houston County website at www.co.houston.tx.us/.
Prior to the discussion on the emergency declaration, the court took under consideration a request to the State Comptroller for a refund of unclaimed credits received from electric cooperatives.
Jeter explained, “This is our annual request. When any cooperative gives credits, they are actually sent back to the state as unclaimed funds. They are collected and if they are uncollected after a certain amount of time, then the county receives those funds. Once a year we request them and they can only be used for community development. Sometimes we get no money and other times it may be $1,000.”
A motion was made, seconded and approved to request the unclaimed capital credits.
The next item on the court’s agenda concerned a contract between the county and the Texas Department of Public Safety in regard to office space.
“This is a contract we have been waiting on for a long time,” the county judge said. “We have this contract in your packets. They are paid up from when the contract expired and you see the new contract is what we had asked for.”
The contract was unanimously approved.
As the meeting continued, an agenda item concerning the advertisement of bids for a consultant and grant administrator associated with disaster recovery under state and federal programs was brought forward for discussion.
“This is preparing for our next disaster. It’s not a question of if, but it’s a matter of when as we now know. This is getting things lined up to have someone in mind in order to assist the commissioners with documents and preparing the county for all of our grant paperwork,” Jeter said.
The measure was unanimously approved.
In other matters brought before the court:
- The commissioners approved the minutes from previous meetings.
- Budget amendments were approved.
- The payment of bills and expenses incurred by the county was approved.
- The Houston County Treasurer’s and Compensatory Reports were received as information by the court.
- The court approved salaries for new and transfer employees.
- The court proclaimed the week of April 26 – May 3 as Soil and Water Stewardship Week.
- A donation in the amount of $1,500 to the Houston County Sheriff’s Office and a separate donation in the amount of $1,275 from Rojo’s Logging for road materials to be used on County Road 2290 were both approved by the commissioners.
- The Fiscal Year 2019 Financial Report prepared by the County Auditor for audit submission was received as information by the court.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.