Jail Inspection, LED Light Renovations, Website Service Agreement Discussed By Commissioners

LED Light renovations for three county facilities, a website service agreement, recent jail inspection, and the Texas opioid multi-district litigation settlement agreement offers were discussed this week during the regular Hopkins County Commissioners Court meeting.

Jail Inspection

The Hopkins County jail received another exceptional rating of 100 during a recent Texas Commission on Jail Standards inspection, according to Hopkins County Sheriff Lewis Tatum.

Hopkins County Law Enforcement Center, at 298 Rosemont St. in Sulphur Springs, contains

“I think we only had one technical and they had to find something bad. They added one more day to inmates that got in trouble so, they had them in there for 6 days instead of 5,” Tatum said.

The jail inspector was also very pleased with the jail’s nurse to the point they would like to use her protocols, especially handling of inmates medications, to train personnel at other jails, the sheriff noted.

When asked about a comment the inspector made as he was leaving the jail facility, Tatum said he commented that the jail “looks better now than it did when we moved into it, cleaner that it was when it was brand new.” The sheriff attributed that to Jail Administrator Kenneth Dean’s leadership.

“Congratulations, Sheriff,” Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom said.

LED Light Renovations

Grants Consultant Beth Wisenbaker told Hopkins County Commissioners Court that the county had learned the grant the county sought to help fund renovation of the historic Hopkins County Courthouse, County Annex Building and AgriLife Extension building had increased by 10% to $77,660. The county is required as part of the terms to provide a 20% match, which is a little higher than usual. The total amount would be $93,192.

hopkins co courthouse
Hopkins County Courthouse

“The bid we have in is $88,250, so we’re covered. Probably the most we would have to be out is $15,000, but that may come down a little. I’ve got the number to Shannah (Aulsbrook, the county auditor). so there might be a little slide in there. I might be thinking exact numbers,” Wisenbaker said, recommending that the court accept the grant and bid.

“Plus, we pay 20%,” Newsom said.

Aulsbrook noted that the only bid the county has received for the project is from National LED, the only company that attended a mandatory pre-bid meeting.

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AgriLife Extension Office

Wisenbaker said even with approval, the county is still waiting to receive a letter from Texas Historical Commission that would detract from the renovated historic courthouse or the other two buildings, which are not listed as historic.

She said essentially, THC just wants to ensure the change won’t change the overall historic look of the structure. All are aware that the courthouse did not have lighting when first constructed. THC wants to ensure the two other buildings aren’t historical, and if they are that changing the lighting in the three buildings won’t change any historic feature of the building.

Tom Glosup also reported that National LED has been in contact with Texas Historical Commission and has been told THC has no problem with the planned renovation. A letter from THC is needed, however, to move forward with the project. Local officials are still waiting for the documents granting an exemption to all three buildings to arrive. Glosup said he’d spoke with the head guy at the lighting company earlier that morning, and he indicated the company was ready to go with the product the business manufactures as soon as the documentation is dispatched properly.

Hopkins County Annex Building

The motion, made by Anglin and seconded by Bartley, to replace current lighting with LED lighting throughout the courthouse, Extension Office and County Annex Building was approved, contingent on the THC approval and grant.

Newsom asked Wisenbaker to please let him and the other members of the Commissioners Court know as soon as she hears from THC regarding the project.

“This is going to help us a lot, but we’ve go more buildings to do,” the county judge said. “We need to get all LED across the board as soon as we can.”

Opioid Lawsuit

Following an executive session that lasted about 30 minutes, called so that the court could confer with their attorney about settlement offers related to the opioid lawsuit filed several years ago and what’s come out of it so far. Newsom asked the county treasurer and auditor to join the court and attorney for the closed session.

Attorney Jack Walker provides judge paperwork related to the opioid lawsuit settlement

Jack Walker, an attorney, whose firm Martin Walker, PC, in Tyler, along with Simon Greenstone Panatier of Dallas, are involved with the county in the ongoing opioid litigation.

“Today, we are here to seek three settlements that we have reached with three defendants in the case — Endo Pharmaceuticals; Teva Pharmaceuticals; and what we call the Big 3 Contributors, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen. We are seeking authorization for the settlement of the case and to authorize the county judge’s signature on a Texas release form and participation form that allows us to effectually settle it,” Walker said during the Feb. 28 Commissioner Court meeting.

With no further further discussion, the court agreed to the request authorizing Newsom to execute the order regarding settlement offers in the matter of Texas opioid multi-district litigation for the county in the matter of County Of Hopkins V. Purdue Pharma, Inc., Et Al., MDL Pretrial Cause No. 2018-63587, In The 152nd District Court Of Harris County, Texas.

Weaver Ranch Plat

A request was made for a final plat for Weaver Ranch. County Clerk Tracy Smith said her office has all of the paperwork that accompanies the request, and the person making the request has been in touch with Fire Marshal Andy Ensley and county officials regarding the request. The property is about 55-acres with no infrastructure, located off county roads, consisting of 8 lots, one of which has a home on the property. The business behind it has already receive approval from the water and electric companies, and taxes are figured. The property is north of Weaver Baptist Church on County Rod 3528.

Commissioner Wade Bartley said he’d met with the developer, and commended him for doing “everything asked of him in a timely manner” so that the final plat can be approved so the project can proceed with the vision for it.

With no further discussion Bartley then made a motion, which Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price seconded, to approve the final plat request for Weaver Ranch property as presented. The motion received approval of the members of the court present at the Feb. 28, 2022 meeting; Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker was unable to attend due to illness.

Newsom then offered thanks to the developer for building homes in Hopkins County.

Budget Amendment

Aulsbrook asked the Commissioners Court to approve a budget amendment for Precinct 4. She explained that initially, the insurance company wasn’t sure what status they would place a wrecked county vehicle on when it was put in the shop in October following a crash.

Precinct 4 received $4,674.38 in insurance funds at that time. That amount was moved back into the Precinct 4 budget in October. Since then, the insurance company has deemed the vehicle as a total loss, which resulted in an additional insurance payment of $2,575.62, increasing the total amount received from insurance to $7,250. Aulsbrook said with approval, that amount would be put back in the Precinct 4 machinery and equipment fund.

Price made a motion, which Anglin seconded, to approve the budget amendment. The motion passed.

Other Items

Another item on the agenda was for a website service agreement with Texas Association of County, CIRA (County Information Resources Agency), an organization which provides services and resources to Texas counties and local governments, including email and website hosting. Aulsbrook said she had not seen the paperwork, but TAC CIRA is who the county website is through. Bartley made a motion, seconded by Anglin to approve the website service agreement; it was approved by the court.

The court acknowledged for the official record, kept by the County Clerk’s Office, that the Pine Forest Solar farm has been purchased by a subsidiary of Clearway Energy Group.

Newsom also recognize on record Homeland Security Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Kristy Springfield and Fire Marshal Andy Endsley for successfully completing the Pipeline Emergency Response and Damage Prevention Training Program held January 12, 2022, in Sulphur Springs. Springfield also completed a Spotter Training Program presented by the National Weather Service on February 18, 2022.

The Commissioners Court also approved as part of the consent agenda the meeting and special work session minutes from Jan. 24-Feb. 14, 2022; a request from Farmers Electric Cooperative Inc. to construct electrical power distribution facility across County Road 1155, south of County Road 1118 in Precinct 1; a request from Spectrum Gulf Coast LLC to construction power distribution facilities in the County Road 1120 right-of-way and County Road 1142 in Precinct 1; and a request from Spectrum/Charter to construct and place an underground conduit on County Roads 1117, 1127, 1123 and 1125 in Precinct 1, as well as on County Road 4719 in Precinct 4.

Author: Faith Huffman

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