By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioners Court met in a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 12 in a session highlighted by a discussion on the Houston County Airport.
During the departmental reports portion of the meeting, Precinct Two Commissioner Willie Kitchen addressed a few issues concerning the airport brought to him by a constituent.
“I had a call yesterday concerning the condition of our airport. The caller said part of the lights were burned out. The striping on the runway is faded to a point where they are barely able to land a plane and see where they are. AWAS (Automated Weather Advisory Station) has been out for several months. So, I told him I would bring this up in court to see if there were any immediate plans for revitalization of the airport or anything over the horizon that we may be looking for,” Commissioner Kitchen said.
Houston County Judge Jim Lovell replied, “We have been awarded a great that is an 80/20 match. The city (Crockett) is sharing the match. They are paying 50 percent of the match. It will take care of everything you have mentioned. The AWAS, the lighting, the revitalization of the pavement and the stripes. We have already received that grant. Not officially, but verbally. I’ve been in contact with TxDOT Aviation and it’s simply a matter of time. I think the Coronavirus has backed everything up.”
As the meeting continued, the court discussed the approval of orders allowing retail fireworks permit holders to sell fireworks to the public for the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.
“This is something where we reached out to the Fourth of July to go ahead and tend to this. If we get too dry, we can always rescind that order or put on a burn ban,” Judge Lovell said.
The measure was approved by unanimous consent.
Another item brought forward during Tuesday’s meeting was the consideration of advertising to accept bids for the purchase of two patrol pickups for the Houston County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).
“If I’m not mistaken, I believe (County Auditor) Melissa (Jeter) said we are about to pay off some of our lease purchases,” Lovell said.
Jeter confirmed this saying, “Three years ago we did a lease purchase for patrol vehicles and we are making our final payment this year.”
The judge added, “(Sheriff) Justin (Killough), we’re getting two new vehicles at this time. I don’t know what the equipment will cost in them, but during budget time, we will talk more. It may be a tough year.”
The sheriff replied, “I understand. I appreciate anything you can do.”
A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to advertise for bids on two new patrol units for the HCSO.
The next agenda item pertained to the appointment of a three-person scoring committee to review prequalified grant administrators eligible under the Texas Community Development Block Program.
Jeter explained the Texas Department of Agriculture was beginning a new program for 2021 where grant administrators had been prequalified meaning the county did not have to go through a bidding process.
“All we have to do is select three people to review and select from their list. That is what we are starting the process on. There are several forms which suggest one member should be an elected member of the commissioners’ court,” she said.
Following a brief discussion, the court approved the County Judge, the County Auditor and Houston County Emergency Management Coordinator Roger Dickey to serve on the scoring committee.
In other matters brought before the court:
- The commissioners approved the minutes from previous meetings.
- Budget amendments, along with the payment of bills and expenses incurred by the county, were approved.
- The Houston County Environmental Report was received as information by the court.
- The court adopted a proclamation declaring the month of May as Elder Abuse Prevention Awareness Month.
- A donation in the amount of $324 for reimbursement for a culvert along CR 2780 in Precinct Two.
- The commissioners approved the renewal of a property insurance policy with the Texas Association of Counties for the period of July 1, 2020 through June 1, 2020.
- The court designated the county judge, Precinct Three Commissioner Pat Perry or a road supervisor to negotiate with property owners for necessary easements for current TxDOT bridge projects on CR 3365.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.