County Commissioners this week took another step toward attaining federal funding to help with cost of repairs to certain roads damaged in past storms, heard comments from a resident regarding condition of her county road and queries regarding the repair process and appointed new water improvement district board members.
Hazard Mitigation Grants
On Monday, they approved submission of multiple hazard mitigation grant applications for DR-4416, to allow the county judge to served as chief executive officer and representative to act in all maters in connection with the FEMA mitigation grants; and to provide a 25 percent or more in local matching funds to secure and complete the DR-4416 grants. These funds would be for disaster recovery efforts.
Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom pointed out that in 2015, the county had two major disasters and received relief for two major disasters. That money is still coming in.
County Road Concerns
A citizen also approached the commissioners court during their regular session Monday regarding what she described as the county’s “more reactive approach to getting our county roads fixed as opposed to a proactive approach.”
Becky Emmert said she and her husband had purchased land 20 years ago on County Road 2346, and have worked on the land to make it a full retirement home. They fully retired last May. Emmert said the road.
“Every time we call and voice an issue, ask for someone to come and look at the roads and just discuss with us what their plan might be, all we hear is excuses. We would rather hear a resolution, or ‘This is what we’re working on to get everyone paved,’ instead of just, ‘I’ve got this many miles of road to take care of and its been raining and can’t catch up,'” Emmert told the commissioners during the public forum portion of Monday’s court session.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Anglin asked her when her road was last “completely grounds up and redone.”
“September of 2017 is when it was done. The road started out being dirt. After numerous encounters, getting it graded and passable again. Funds came from FEMA. Our road did get some pavement in September of 2017. Now, there are areas that are impassable. There’s one turn on it where there are three huge potholes that cover the entire width of the road. We have a little business man picking up some hay, I was afraid he was going to lose a bale turning that corner,” Emmert told the commissioners court.
Anglin pointed out that there are roads that haven’t hard any repair work in 4-6 years or more. There are other roads with even more serious repair needs as well.
“I’ve checked on your road.It does have a couple of blow outs from all the rain we’ve had this past winter …. I discussed that with you on the phone,” Anglin told Emmert.
“Again, I’m hearing excuses and I’d like to hear a resolution: ‘This is what we’re doing and this is what we’re going to do.’ I don’t here there’s a plan of action in line,” Emmert rejoined.
Anglin said Precinct 2 workers are busy on other roads right now, but when time permits plans to make their way to CR 2346 to try to repair some of the worst damages. The “road season” is almost half over, but precinct workers still have quite a bit of ground to cover, thanks to the heavy fall rains and subsequent rain the county has experienced almost weekly since
Emmert said she and others have done some “research” driving on randomly selected county roads in all four precincts throughout the county. While the road they live on isn’t the worst, others in other precincts have received patch work for holes as small as six inches across. Theirs is in need of serious repairs, she told the court.
This is our fourth commissioner since we purchased this land. It’s the same thing over and over again. Is there something we can do to help turn around that negative environment and make it more proactive?” Emmert asked.
“That is what my intent in Precinct 2 is. We’re trying hard. We’re patching roads every day. The weather has been pretty bad starting out this year. You know that. It’s rained nearly every week. You can’t fix roads with it raining. You can go out there and patch them, but it washes them right back out. We’ve done it in that bottom numerous times, as you said, to keep the school bus going through. We’re trying; it just takes time,” Anglin told her.
Emmert also asked how tax dollars are divided among the four precincts, and how the budget is aligned to cover costs of road repairs.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley explained that $6.25 of every $100 paid in county taxes goes to maintenance of county roads.
“We are very limited in funds we have to work with. We try to make the best use of the funds we have. Labor comes out first, what’s left we use to put on roads. Every person that lives in the city also lives in the county. They pay county taxes but they don’t live on a county road; they pay to maintain our roads in the county. If we didn’t have that, we’d be in worse shape. It’s just a struggle, a struggle for us to work on in the budget every year, to try to stretch those dollars as far as we can, keep those in good shape,” Bartley said.
Newsom pointed out that if the county receives the grants for which they are submitting documents, Precinct 2 will receive more federal funding awarded to help with repairs due to the damages from last October’s flooding rains. Precinct 1 was also noted to be among the areas to have damages and receive notification of qualification for grant funding to help with recovery efforts.
The commissioners court held budget work sessions daily last week, and had scheduled another during their regular meeting Monday. Each county department’s budget is looked at and analysed for effectiveness and needs, as well as revenues, to begin getting a firm handle on how much will be needed for all county operations next year, and whether some departments will have to pair down costs. Among the function in the precinct budgets are road budgets.
Lake Fork Creek WCID
Also during that meeting Andy Wright approached the court, asking them to consider approving the appointment of three men to the Lake Fork Creek Water Control Improvement District #1, in an effort to rejuvenate the board so repairs can be made. He said most of the previous members have all died. Rejuvenation of the board will allow business to proceed.
The court gave unanimous approval to the recommendation of Cody Koon, John Holland and Dale Guest to serve as directors to the Laek Fork Creek Water Improvement District #1.