Hopkins County Commissioners Court on Monday approved and discussed a number of items during their regular session, including the 2 semi loads of crossties for the NETEX Rail Line, agreement with a school district, a continuing education option for commissioners, and planned maintenance agreement. A bond for the new deputy treasurer and salaries for the auditor and a district court reporter also were considered by the court.
Semi Loads Of Crossties
The Commissioners Court has in a previous work session discuss the purchase of crossties for Northeast Texas Rural Transportation District, known by NETEX (pronounced Knee-Tex) and operated by Northeast Texas Connector, a division of Freedom Rail Group.
“NETEX Rail has been doing very well for itself over the last year-year and a half. They are needing some improvements to their rail and I move that we approve 2 semi loads of crossties for NETEX to help support their repairs,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker said.
The cost of 2 semi loads of crossties, according to Barker, is estimated to cost $25,000.
“I believe we have done this in the past,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade noted.
The motion was approved unanimously to purchase 2 semi loads of crossties to assist in repairs to the NETEX line.
Deputy Treasurer Bond
In June, Hopkins County Treasurer Danny Davis asked the Commissioners Court to approve staff restructuring, creating a deputy treasurer’s position in his office at no cost to the county.
Vanessa Kaslon would simply move from a position in the county’s human resources department to “to line up statutorily” with Davis’ duties, similar to the move made when Davis was elected as County Treasurer. He absorbed the duties of the Veterans Service Office, which he had been performing to that point, into the County Treasurer’s Office. That has been part of the streamlining of the duties of treasurers’ office across the state. In taking on the position, the person is named deputy treasurer, Davis explained on June 25 2021.
Vanessa Kaslon is currently serving in the position to be absorbed into the treasurer’s office, which requires a bond. The Commissioners Court approved the request in June. Kaslon is currently employed in the position part time, but will begin her duties fulltime in the new budget year. On Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, the Commissioners Court accepted the $5,000 bond for her position as deputy treasurer.
Continuing Education Change
Continuing education of County Commissioners via online instruction received unanimous approval of the Commissioners Court.
“The Legislature just passed this to allow, not first year commissioners, but any Commissioners with more than one year can do his instruction online rather than having to do it by going to a class. It just saves a lot of money for the county – a lot of travel money, anybody would stay in a hotel room. We have to authorize it as a Commissioners Court, but it has been authorized by the Legislature in the last session, Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom explained.
Bartley made a motion to approve the change, with Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price seconding it, and the rest of the court unanimously approving it.
Jury Duty Donation
The Commissioners Court was asked Monday to consider amending policy in alignment with Senate Bill 456, which would allow jurors too donate their daily reimbursement for jury duty to an established veterans service office. Because Davis was unable to attend the Sept. 27, 2021 meeting to speak on the matter,
Newsom asked that the matter be tabled until a future meeting when the County Treasurer can be present to explain the matter before the court.
Auditor, District Court Reporter
Also approved was the setting of salaries for the County Auditor and three assistants, and for the 8th Judicial District Court Reporter.
“A lot of people don’t understand this. The Auditor works under the District Judges, not under the Commissioners Court. That’s another check and balance of our system,” Newsom noted.
“Hers is the same. We have to go before the District Judge to be appointed. This is the salary order so that she can be paid. It has to be filed,” County Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook noted.
“Judge, I’d like to recognize Shannah and her department. The last few months have been very trying to get our budget all together. As of today, you’ve got it all to us and I appreciate it,” Barker said Aulsbrook.
“Thank you,” Aulsbrook said.
Barker made the motion, which Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Anglin seconded, to set the salary for the County Auditor and her staff. According to the proposed budget posted on the Hopkins County website for the year beginning Oct. 1, 2021 and ending Sept. 30, 2022, the county auditor’s salary as an elected official is set at $66,107.
Bartley made the motion, which Price seconded, setting the salary for the official district court reporter. The rest of the Commissioners Court also approved the motion.
County Fire Marshal Andy Endsley asked the Commissioners Court to consider approving an interlocal agreement with North Hopkins ISD, in accordance with Chapter 791, Chapter 418 of Texas Government Code.
“This is one of seven school districts that we are doing this agreement with,” said Endsley, who also serves as emergency management coordinator for Hopkins County.
“What this basically does, during this pandemic, it allows us to no only utilize some of their equipment, vehicles and things like that – whatever we might need. It allows them to do vice versa, to use our facilities if we did a large vaccination at that rural location, rural schools or Sulphur Springs, buses things like that, if we ever needed it. This will be on file indefinitely. In the agreement, we utilize not only personnel but also equipment and facilities,” Endsley explained.
Price made the motion, which Barker seconded, to approve the agreement. The motion for the interlocal agreement to share resources with North Hopkins ISD as needed received unanimous approval of the court Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.
The Commissioners Court also approved a motion by Anglin, seconded by Barker, approving an ongoing plant maintenance agreement with Clifford Power Systems Inc., for Purley communication tower. The tower is owned by the sheriff’s office and fire department. However, Hopkins County, Franklin County and Hopkins County EMS all share cost of the generator for the tower, according to Endsley.
Clifford Power services all of the generators the county owns. The equipment sends a telecommunication notification out to certain individuals within the three departments if power is lost and the generator kicks on, then when it switches back to regular electrical power, the county fire marshal noted.
“It’s very helpful on that side of it. Clifford Power has done a great job for us, so far, and we continue to look forward to that relationship,” Endsley noted.