Hopkins County Commissioners Court Monday approved a dozen Hopkins County Historical Commission appointments, a services contractor for storm repair work to county facilities and a space use agreement with the American National Red Cross; they also heard from from a Dike resident opposed to and a Dike property owner in support of the planned Hopkins County Solar farm in the area.
The Commissioners Court unanimously approved a dozen individuals to serve on Hopkins County Historical Commission for a two-year term.The HCHC members for 2021-22 include:
- John Sellers
- Rick Wilson
- Carlie Penson
- Andrew Froneberger
- Major Willis
- Joyce Bateman
- Josh Willis
- Barbara Hudson
- Bill Glover
- Susan McCary
- Carolyn French
- Paula Altenbaumer
The Texas Legislature authorized counties to establish County Historical Commissions (CHC) to assist county commissioners courts and the Texas Historical Commission in the preservation of our historic and cultural resources. The mission of each CHC is to preserve, protect, and promote these resources, according to the Texas Historical Commission website.
County Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook presented for Commissioners Court approval an $86,517.03 budget amendment, insurance proceeds received from Texas Association of Counties, less the $10,000 deductible, for repairs to county facilities due to damage during the winter storm in February.
She said $80,921.76 was designated to go into the courthouse repairs and maintenance fund to to start taking care of repairs and maintenance of the probation office and the county courthouse annex building, and the remaining $5,595.27 is designated for the Civic Center for cost of repairing burst pipes. Repairs at the Civic Center cost a little over $7,000, so some of the deductible had to be paid by the Civic Center.
County Judge Robert Newsom noted that damages to all three county buildings that sustained damages resulting from the winter storm were currently being addressed.
The Commissioners Court approved the budgetary change as recommended by the county auditor
The Commissions Court too approved a contract with MTG Engineers & Surveyors for professional services under DR-4416, “Texas Severe Storms and Flooding Under Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.” The contract has to do with the two portable generators to ensure the county obtains the proper size and connections needed. The engineering has already been done, Hopkins County Fire Marshal Andy Endsley explained, so the county now must enter into contract with MTG part of the grant funding the generator purchases. The court approved the contract as recommended by Endsley to meet grant requirements.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker asked where things stand on a generator that was sent off. Endsley said the problem with the generator has been diagnosed, and he could go into more in-depth detail during the work session that was to follow the regular court meeting. That generator would not be suited for emergency use, he said.
Also approved was a three-year space license agreement with the American National Red Cross to allow the group to share space in the old Fidelity Express building just off College Street, which served as headquarters for a state-sponsored free COVID-19 testing site from last fall until April.
“It’s just a renewal of contract. There’s no money exchanged. We just allow them to use that space for their office to do the things they do for us for us for Hopkins County Emergency Management,” explained Endsley. “It’s back to Red Cross, Salvation Army and CERT. They all three share that building there together. Red Cross always is adamant about having a contract with it and they also carry a $1 million liability on the building while they are inside it.”
The county officials too were asked and approved the disposal of some sheriff’s office assets. The sheriff’s office is selling 10 vehicles, a vending machine, second row seats for a Chevrolet Tahoe and a Ford Explorer, and two other items. A notice has been posted as required. The items are being sold online at Auctioneer Express. The list of vehicles includes pickup trucks, SUVs and a car.
“There are vehicles that have issues or would bring more at this sale, or were seized property the court has titles for,” Aulsbrook explained.
Dike resident Michelle Barnes, speaking on behalf of residents opposed to the planned solar project slated to begin in September, complained that an individual who spoke out in favor at of the project at a previous meeting doesn’t live in Dike, he just owns property there which he is leasing to the solar company Engie.
“There’s a major difference between actually living in Dike among this industrial power plant and just making making money off a lease with property you own but do not live on. In fact, almost all the people except one that signed the lease with the solar company do not live in Dike. So, how is that fair representation of homeowners when you made the decision to sign the contract,” Barnes said to when addressing the commissioners court during the public forum portion of the May 10 regular court session.
“Trusting the Commissioners Court that we will have a voice and be listened to is what we expect. The fact that our concerns seem to fall on deaf ears does not go unnoticed. I believe there should be representation of the people among the governmental leaders,” Barnes said.
Barnes contends that the Commissioners Court agrees with that sentiment, shown when the court on April 12 unanimously approved a resolution opposing Senate Bill 234 and House Bill 749, “because you believe rural governments will not have a voice in Austin,” which could result in unfair laws and regulations set at the state level and forced upon small rural counties including Hopkins County.
“I am against these bills, but a small fraction of me wants it to go through so you will know exactly how the citizens of Dike feel, in effect, putting the shoe on the other foot,” Barnes told the Commissioners Court.
Tim Fuller, a property owner for the Hopkins County Solar project, however, thanked the Commissioners for their forward thinking in allowing Engie to come in and build the solar project. Fuller noted that he spoke at the prior court meeting, and reiterated Monday that “the properties involved in the project are owned by individuals and we can use our land as whatever purpose within.”
“Again, I thank the commissioners for doing a job that are very seldom thanked. I’ve been here before. I would vote for anyone of you in the next election, preferably each one of you go unopposed,” Fuller concluded.