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Special Court, Plat, Fire Department Donations, Easement, Bridge Improvements Discussed

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A special court, final plat, fire department donations, road easement and bridge improvements were discussed and approved by Hopkins County Commissioners Court Monday morning.

Easement

Jason Lacomfora asked the county to grant an easement for property located on Airline Drive, located just west of Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport. He noted that he’d first contacted city staff about obtaining the easement. He said he was advised while the road is in the city, it’s part of a swap program with the county, so the request would need to be made to the county.

Joe Price, Precinct 4 Commissioner

Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price said he wasn’t knowledgeable about that, so he contacted city officials as well. Unfortunately, Price said, he never got a response back to the query.

“He asked me for permission that he didn’t need any permits to build down there. I agreed he did not,” Price said. “I think he’s got plans for 12 acres which didn’t fall within our plat. So I granted him the right to do what he wanted to do within the law. So I make a motion that we accept that.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley seconded the motion to grant an easement for property located on Airline Drive. The motion receive unanimous approval of the Commissioners Court.

Road/Bridge Improvements

The Commissioners Court put on record four Texas Department of Transportation bridge projects, which will mean one road is a step closer to reopening and 3 other bridges will be replaced, making it easier for residents living on the other side of them to cross them during wet weather.

Wade Bartley, Precinct 3 Commissioner

The county receives credit for other road repairs which are applied toward the county’s funding portion of the project. One bridge to be repaired is on Pipeline Road (South Loop 301) at Town Branch, with cooperation of the city and county. That is a big step toward getting Pipeline Road reopened, Bartley said. The project has been on TxDOT’s bridge plan for several years, and soon will be replaced. Officials are slated to advertise for bids next month, the Precinct 3 Commissioner noted.

“That’s a big step to getting that road reopened. That portion of our city, our area is growing tremendously in our industrial park. There are a lot of workers out there in that area. Should one of them need some hospital assistance, Pipeline Road would be a shortcut to the hospital for not only these workers but anyone on the that side of town,” Bartley said. “There has been several steps already to get that road constructed. We’ve been working with the city. We’ve got their support. “

The commissioner said while Pipeline Road is not one of the roads he as a precinct commissioner is responsible for maintaining, he will do whatever he can to get it open for the good of the citizens in the county.

Mickey Barker, Precinct 1 Commissioner

One other of the roads on the bridge project list also is located within Precinct 3 on a road not traveled as much. Located east of Sulphur Bluff by an oil field, County Road 3545 at Mitchell Creek Tributary also is slated for bridge improvement. That road goes across a dam on a small lake that’s infested with beavers.

“They’re going to replace a cattle guard and put in some kind of drainage structure to help improve drainage,” Bartley said, adding, “So, that’s just how different [TxDOT] projects can be. TxDOT does mark their own bridges for our county roads if they need one that’s a certain size that needs replaced, they put it on their program and they incur the cost so it’s a tremendous help to the county.”

“There is a matching fund that we pay to TxDOT for our support of the drainage issues in our precincts. So that’s how we work very closely with TxDOT,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker noted.

A bridge on County Road 1180 in Birch Creek also is targeted to be replaced. Eight families live past the bridge on CR 1180. When there’s a lot of water runoff from Birch Creek, the road floods and the eight families are unable to leave their homes. Precinct 1 has in the past made preparations to go across this flooded bridge, which is dangerous, to bring people out to the hospital.

“I got involved four years ago, I’ve been working this four years. TxDOT is going to be letting the contract on County Road 1180 across Birch Creek next month. So, this has been a big feather in our hat to get this done over the last 4-5 years,” Barker said.

Commissioner Price said County Road 4767 at North Caney Creek Tributary is a small dead-end road that serves 2 people along the half-mile stretch from the bridge.

“It was already in the books when I came into office. We’ve done a match program on it also, so we are ready to go,” Price said.

Price made a motion, which was seconded by Bartley, to put on record and approved the proposed plans of improvement for SL 301/Pipeline Road at Town Branch, CR 4767 at North Caney Creek Tributary, CR 3545 at Mitchell Creek Tributary and CR 1180 at Birch Creek.

Final Plat

A final plat for Rios Estates was also approved Monday, July 11, 2022, by Hopkins County Commissioners Court. County Clerk Tracy Smith noted this was simply the final version of the preliminary plat the Court approved at a previous court meeting. The request, Smith during the June 27 court session, is for simple plat, sectioning one lot into two lots.

There had initially been some confusion as to the location for the request due to the road numbers listed on the initial proposal, FM 2653 and County Road 4112 were listed, but do not intersect. After getting clarity on that, the court approved the initial preliminary plat for Rios Estates on June 27. Then, on Monday, July 11, 2022, the Commissioners Court gave final approval to the final plat for Rios Estates as presented.

Preliminary Plat for Rios Estates

Fire Department Donations

Hopkins County Fire Marshal Andy Endsley noted that Hopkins County Fire department has received a $1,000 donation from Wood County Electric Coop. He said the check had been delivered to the County Treasurer and requested that it be applied to HCFD’s operations line in the budget to be applied to things like the cost of new fire hoses.

Endsley also noted that HCFD was donating a 20 x 32-foot portable building to Dike Volunteer Fire Department. HCFD has had the building almost since the department’s inception 20 years ago. When HCFD moved from Weaver Drive to the current intermodal facility on Texas Street, the building was moved as well. HCFD has now outgrown the portable building.

Hopkins County Fire Marshal Andy Endsley

“We are needing to go up in size because we’ve got a few things that are coming in our way through grants that we have to house in a bigger location behind the fire station, so that building was taken down by sheriff’s office by the trustees, David Ray and Bobby Woodward. We are very appreciative of it,” Marshal Endsley said.

Dike VFD, however, is hoping to purchase an engine in the near future and will need a facility to house it. Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley put down a pad for Dike VFD at no cost to Dike VFD, then the trustees were utilized in Dike to put the building up on the new pad.

“We’re going to donate that over to the Dike Fire Department with the stipulation that if they ever do decide to move on in a different direction or add on to the building, that building will be used at another department for a substation or whatever they might need it for,” Endsley said.

County Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook noted the building will be removed from the HCFD inventory and insurance, which will mean Dike will need to insure it if the structure is to be insured moving forward.

“This is going to be a benefit to the community because Engie, the solar farm company, agreed to donate $30,000 to the fire department for the purchase a fire apparatus and this will be a structure to protect that vehicle. Once that’s in place — and I don’t know all the process — then we can apply for a different ISO rating, to get it lowered and will be able to lower insurance rates for everyone’s personal buildings in that area. It’s going to be a benefit to everybody out there and we’re going to have extra protection out there in the county,” Commissioner Bartley noted.

County Judge Robert Newsom noted that county officials have worked with fire departments to help several areas lower ISO ratings, which typically means lower insurance rates for everyone within a 5 mile driving radius.

Dike Community Center and VFD Station

With the exception of Sulphur Bluff VFD which is still rebuilding from the fire which destroyed the department’s station and most apparatus, Dike is the last VFD in the county that does not have a fire engine. Once the department gets one and outfits it for service, they can request state insurance representatives grade the district. Paperwork to start that process has already been started. Being graded with an engine should improve homeowners and property insurance costs for all within 5 road miles of Dike fire station, according to Endsley.

Special Court

Hopkins County Commissioners Court also was asked to approve a resolution for a special court, which would begin operations on Jan. 2, 2023. In accordance with Chapter 121 of Texas Government Code, the special court is being established as a special drug court, at the request of the District Attorney’s Office.

Essentially, this would provide first time controlled substance and alcohol offenders a chance to turn their lives around, Newsom explained. Basically, it would be an intervention step to try to reduce recidivism, to try to offer help for those who accused of crimes involving controlled substances, before they become deeply addicted to the illegal substances and end up with multiple arrests on their record, the county judge explained.

The drug court is a program several other court systems across the state already have in place. The program would be headed by Jody Cox with the District Attorney’s Office, according to Newsom.

Author: Faith Huffman

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