County Prepares for San Jacinto Day

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY –  Houston County Commissioners met Tuesday, Apr. 9 to discuss the rising costs of doing county business and to declare Sunday, Apr. 21 as “San Jacinto Day” in Houston County. 

The commissioners discussed how they were managing the county’s money, pointing out the county does more with less, compared to other taxing entities in the area. Precinct Three Commissioner Gene Stokes said while the tax revenues stay the same, the county pays more for almost everything, due to inflation. Houston County Judge Jim Lovell pointed out the county funds 18 departments with the limited monies they have – while many properties due to exemptions do not pay tax at the same rate as others, limiting income. 

Sons of the Republic of Texas historian Clayton Starr thrilled the court yet again with historical tales from the Battle of San Jacinto, where Sam Houston’s army beat Mexican General and President Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana’s forces in 18 minutes – sealing Texas’ independence. The commissioners approved a proclamation to mark the historic anniversary in Houston County. 

Judge Lovell invited county officials to their yearly picnic, to be held Friday, Apr. 26 at 12 p.m., before the court approved a motion to designate the bank meeting room as an alternate courtroom for the 349th and third judicial district courts. 

Houston County Auditor Melissa Jeter, who is often praised by the commissioners for her diligent work keeping the county budgets juggled and organized, was reappointed unanimously to serve two additional years in the position. 

“Sorry, Melissa, you will just have to put up with us another two years,” Judge Lovell joked. 

One item was tabled until Friday, Apr. 12, when the commissioners met to consider an agreement to use contract services to assist Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove in certain situations. The Messenger reported last year when a county convict was sent to a hospital in Tyler and Hargrove asked the court to approve an outside company so more of his deputies could stay on patrol. 

Hargrove told the court of a new situation, where a convict already on probation, facing new charges here and in Montgomery county, was hospitalized but needed constant supervision. Hargrove said the man had tried to gouge both of his eyes out and needed more specialized care. In the meantime, he must be guarded 24 hours a day, both so he cannot escape, but to keep hospital staff safe, too. 

Sheriff Hargrove said his department currently has four vacancies, with another deputy ill and one injured, leaving him too few personnel to put a full-time guard on the convict and maintain necessary patrols and operations at the jail. The commissioners approved Badgehire Security Services to watch this inmate and to be available when these situations arise in the future. The commissioners and the sheriff hammered out an agreement with the company, with set rates for normal and holiday pay, along with the flexibility to travel on behalf of county law enforcement when and where needed. 

The commissioners approved the contract, with the stipulation Hargrove will seek approval for each instance when the service is needed. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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