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Election Matters Approved by Comm. Court

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Commissioners Okay HOT Funds for October Concert

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioners Court met in a called meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 15 to discuss several matters that didn’t make last week’s lengthy agenda.

As the meeting got underway, the first area addressed by the commissioners concerned the upcoming Nov. 3 election.

Elections Administrator Cynthia Lum led off the election discussion and said she had had a list of recommendations by precinct “… based off of the 2016 voters who did come out and vote and are currently registered. You will notice in a few of them (precincts) where we are asking for five workers. That does include the judge and alternate judge, which would allow them to hire three additional clerks. If there are four, there will be two additional clerks and if there are three, there will be one additional clerk.”

Lum added under the CARES Act, additional workers would be hired to clean the polling locations. A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to accept the recommendations made by the elections administrator.

The next election related matter concerned establishing early voting locations in both Grapeland and Lovelady on the dates of Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. The measure was unanimously approved.

The final election related issue concerned the court receiving information on a list of deputy early voting clerks for the November election.

Changing gears, County Judge Jim Lovell informed the court longevity pay for county employees had increased from $8 to $10 per month and the date of disbursement for 2020 would be Dec. 4.

As the meeting continued, the normally routine matter of approving Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funding for a Piney Woods Fine Arts Association (PWFAA) event was brought before the court. Unfortunately, the COVID -19 pandemic has placed restrictions on how many persons may be in attendance at an event.

For example, the Crockett City Council chose not to act on a resolution closing the streets for Christmas in Crockett, effectively causing a change of venue for the event.

The agenda item called for approving the HOT application and interlocal agreement with the PWFAA for the John Michael Montgomery concert scheduled for Oct. 2.

PWFAA Executive Director Ann Walker addressed the court about the matter and said, “The civic center, when we put down all of our chairs, it holds 1,100. We cut the Johns Michael Montgomery concert back to 500 seats only. We went through, yesterday, and redid the entire seating chart. Some people may not like it but we are moving people around so they will be spread out. We will have three different entrances to the civic center. All of the ushers will have on face shields, along with those working the concession stands. We will also have sanitation stations set up everywhere. We are taking precautions to be as spread out as possible.” 

Walker added, “We just feel it is important to start back to life sooner than later and do something in the community. If we keep putting everything off until 2021, we’re not going to be here until 2021.”

The HOT application was unanimously approved.

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

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