Commissioners Court Approves OGM Lease, Election Equipment Upgrades, Printer Donation

Hopkins County Commissioners Court approved a 1.2-acre oil, gas and mineral lease; funding for election equipment upgrades, a donation, printer donation, copier lease agreement, services agreement during a special court session.

OGM Lease

Steve Payton with Daisy Daze RV Park LLC

Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley reported only one bidder was present on the square the week before when oil, gas and mineral rights to a 1.2-acre parcel of land were auctioned off from the courthouse steps. The starting bid was $250 and the inground rights for the three-year lease were sold for $450 to Pinkston Energy Co., LLC.

When asked by Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker if that will disrupt the cemetery, Bartley said leasing it will most definitely not.

The revenue raised from the lease will go into the general fund, and if oil is found, the county would get more funding from it, according to County Judge Robert Newsom.

The rest of the Commissioners Court agreed to move forward with the lease to Pinkston Energy.

Election Equipment Updates

The Commissioners Court approved a budget amendment, accepting the $313,370.82 in grant funding awarded to the County Clerk’s Office for audible grant funding. The funding will be moved from a grant revenue line into an elections equipment line within the clerk’s budget to pay for required conversion of voting equipment to meet mandated requirements for audible voting equipment. The funding will pay for the conversion, leaving on a few things like training and software maintenance that the county will be responsible for.

“So, basically, you will still vote electronically, but a piece of paper will come out and the voter will take that piece of paper and put it into a slot for it to be counted. So, we have a double count now,” Newsom said. “I didn’t realize it was going to cost $300,000, but the state paid for it.”

“Yes, if you got in on the first part of grant money, you got 100%. We got in on it,” County Clerk Tracy Smith said.

Printer Donation

The Commissioners Court also agreed to donate a printer to Heritage Outreach Ministries.

The printer in question was taken out of the County Treasurer’s Office because it would not meet the constant demands of the office, County Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook said.

“It’s just constantly jamming and messing up. He prints 300-400 pages a day so it wouldn’t work for his office. We reached out to Kaybro and they said it was pretty much too old for repairs. That we should dispose of it,” Aulsbrook said. “It’s being disposed of. He’s got a new printer.”

In the mean time, Aulsbrook noted, Heritage Outreach Ministries reached out to the county officials to see if they might have a printer available that they could have or use. Since it was being disposed of, and legally, the county is allowed to donate it to charity, Treasurer Danny Davis recommended it go to Heritage Outreach Ministries. Officials at the charitable organization are aware of the problems experienced with the machine and indicated they have the money to get it fixed. It should be OK for their intended use, which would be notably less than in the treasurer’s office.

LED Light Conversion

A loan to be paid back in the money saved from converting the jail, Civic Center and Adult Probation Office to LED lighting. A study has already been conducted for the project, Tom Glosup told the commissioners and judge at the special 11 a.m. Commissioners Court meeting held Aug. 15, 2022.

After evaluating the three facilities, E3 Business Development Manger Jason Brinkley said he anticipates the county will save $130,000 over the 15-year period of the loan with one plan option, another would see inhouse replacement of 25-50% of the 42 existing wall vacancy sensors in the jail that have already gone out at a cheaper rate than hiring someone else to replace them as part of the project.

Tom Glosup adn , E3 Business Development Manger Jason Brinkley

Glosup said the loan would be paid back over 11.5 years at a 2% rate, meeting the requirements that the project outlast the 15-year loan/project. The project would cost about $306,000, paid over 11.5 years, with the utility saving in that 11.5 years predicted to be $130,000, not counting the 3.5 remaining years of the 15-year project, which should provide additional saving to the county.

“It’s a great program. It’s one of those programs that seemed too good to be true, so we did research, and it’s exactly as they describe it. There shouldn’t be any hitches in the get-along and y’all should see a reduction in electric bills,” said Beth Wisenbaker, local grants coordinator.

Wisenbaker pointed out that the saving should actually by the end of the project period result in even more saving than projected, because it’s figured on today’s utility costs. Most likely in the future, those rates will be higher, resulting in a bigger savings.

“So that’s basically $8,700 yearly in savings at today’s rates?” Barker asked and was assured that is correct.

This is the same type of conversion recently performed at the Courthouse Annex, Courthouse and AgriLife Extension Building, thanks to a $75,000 grant, which required a 20% match from the county, according to Glosup.

The court approved to the services agreement with E3 Entegral Solutions, Inc., for the LED lighting conversion for the three county buildings via the loan savings program.

The priority for the grant/loan program is Aug. 31, with a second round of funding opening up in late fall or December.. The process is expected to take about 90, including 60 before the county will find out if the application is approved, then maybe another 30 days to get all of the lights and materials needed for the conversion.

Public Forum

Michele Barnes, Dike resident

During public forum, Steve Payton with Daisy Daze RV Park LLC said he was in attendance because he has 15 acres he’s looking to develop for RVs, etc. When he began planning the project, he said he was under the impression that there were no restrictions, then notices that the court has included on recent work session agendas discuss on short term rental communities, RV parks and tiny homes.

He was invited to stay for the work session and discussion regarding the new requirements, and potentially provide input into the topic, ideas and answer related questions they may have regarding the topic.

Michele Barnes also spoke during public forum at the Aug. 15, 2022, Commissioners Court meeting. She commended Commissioner Barker for standing up and questioning items on the agenda. She said it’s the first time she’s seen a commissioner do that. She said she was impressed by it, just as she was impressed when he took his oath of office his comments. While he had nothing prepared, he noted he was looking forward to serving the people first.

Other Items

The court approved as proposed an updated contract with DataMax for lease of a printer/copier for the 8th Judicial District Court, Hopkins County Administration and Hopkins County Clerk’s Offices.

The Commissioners Court went into executive session to discuss personnel items related to the sheriff’s office. The county auditor, human resources director, court and chief deputy participated in the closed meeting, which was slated to include discussion but no action.

After reconvening, the Court then adjourned to a work session.

Upcoming Meetings

Hopkins County Commissioners Court is slated to meet next at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 22. Topics on the regular court agenda include holding a public hearing for, then considering establishment of a reinvestment zone for, by and between the county and Pine Forest Hybrid, LLC, as well as an expansion of the solar project.

The Department of Motor Vehicle optional fees for calendar year 2023, acknowledge a constable for completing 20 hours of training in civil process, public hearings on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-2023 and the proposed tax rate, then adopt a tax rate, receive reports from county offices and put on record the advance funding agreement with the State of Texas to replace off-system bridges on Timber Creek at the tributary of Horse Pen Creek.

A work session is slated to immediately follow the regular court session on Aug. 22. Fire department operations, revenues and expenditures and proposed improvements and repairs, Sulphur Springs Public Library and a budget work session all slated to be discussed during the work session.

Author: KSST Contributor

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