Home News COVID-19 Business Updates Ho. Co. Court Venues Moved to Civic Center

Ho. Co. Court Venues Moved to Civic Center

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County Auditor Installed as President of TACA

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – If you need to go to court in Houston County, because of COVID-19, the Houston County Courthouse is temporarily no longer the place to go.

During a meeting of the Houston County Commissioners Court held on Tuesday, Oct. 27, the commissioners voted to move a majority of courtroom proceedings to the Crockett Civic Center until 2021 in order to comply with a COVID-19 plan of operations.

Houston County Judge Jim Lovell explained why the move was occurring and said it was needed in order to comply with social distancing protocols.  

Lovell explained District Court would hold jury qualifications at the Crockett Civic Center as well as voir dire or the preliminary examination of a witness or a juror by a judge or counsel. The trial itself would be held in the district courtroom in the Houston County Courthouse, while jury deliberations would take place in the County Court-at-Law Courtroom.

All County Court-at-Law proceedings would be conducted at the civic center.

A motion to designate the Crockett Civic Center as an alternate courtroom from now until 2021 in order to comply with the COVID-19 operating plan was unanimously approved. 

Prior to the courtroom discussion, Judge Lovell informed those in attendance that County Auditor Melissa Jeter had recently been installed “… the President of the Texas Association of County Auditors. She was installed on Oct. 23 and it is quite an honor.”

The judge added, “She pointed out to me we did have another auditor in Houston County in 1968 and 1969 that Nell Clonts was the president of the association. It just so happens at that time my grandfather was county judge. We had a high-five when we realized that. Melissa, congratulations and I know you will make Houston County proud.”

Jeter has served as a county auditor – first in Madison County and now in Houston County – for almost 24 years.    

Also on the court’s docket was a discussion about the adoption of a resolution authorizing the commitment of county funds and participation in a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) mitigation project by DETCOG for region-wide interoperable radio communications infrastructure.

“This is a grant DETCOG has applied for towers throughout the DETCOG region. It would greatly boost our radio capability here. If they are awarded this grant the match would be $40,000. Each county (12) in the region would have a share in the match,” Lovell said.   

The resolution was unanimously adopted.   

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 Compensatory and Treasurer’s Reports were received as information by the court.
  • Salaries for new and/or transfer employees were approved.
  • A donation of $1,500 from Cardenas Ranch for improvements to CR 4110 and a donation of $600 from 2P Logging for improvements to CR 1105 were both accepted by the court.
  • The commissioners approved a premises permit for Porter Springs Baptist Church to conduct a prayer rally on the Houston County Courthouse lawn on Nov. 12.
  • Sheila Johnson was welcomed as the county’s new grant administrator.

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

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