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Commissioners Table Public Health Nuisance Issue, Approve Fire Department Personnel Policy Change

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Hopkins County Commissioners Court Monday made short work of the regular court session, opting to table a public health nuisance issue and approving a fire department personnel policy change.

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Public Health Nuisance

Commissioners were slated to consider proceeding with an abatement of public health nuisance. The person on whose property the matter rests has been cited for the matter, that is in the justice of the peace court. With approval from local health authority Dr. Darrell pierce, it was recommended the property owner be given 10 days to take care of the matter after issuance of a citation, then for county abate the issue by paying for a system to be installed; a lien on the property until the fee had been recovered, Hopkins County Fire Marshal Andy Endsley reported.

However, after contact with the Precinct 2 property owner, Endsley learned vendor has been contacted to install a septic system. The fire marshal said he’d personally talked to the vendor, who plans to perform the service as soon as it is dry enough. So, Endsley recommended the Commissioners Court postpone any decision on the matter until the weather has improve enough for the vendor to provide the service. This would be a cost savings to the county and would remedy the matter. The resident can continue to be fined daily until the system is in place.

Hopkins County Fire Marshal Andy Endsley discusses a public health nuisance with Hopkins County Commissioners Court.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley asked if additional action was needed as the agenda item called for consideration of “procedures for the abatement of public health nuisances,” if perhaps this item was policy that would cover additional situation of that nature if they should arise down the road.

County Judge Robert Newsom explained that a procedure would need to be taken every time as each public health nuisance situation would be different, so the procedure would be determined per individual situation.

He asked what would happen if the weather and ground conditions had not improved sufficient for the new system to be put in within the 10 days of notice for the citation. Endsley said as he understands it, the matter before the court would still be covered as tabled until the work is done. The matter in the justice of the peace court would be up to the judge.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker said two additional day so of rain are predicted in the near future, he hopes the justice of the peace will consider that as well as the other factors in relation to the citations through that court.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Anglin made a motion, which Barker seconded, to table any procedure for public health nuisance abatement on the matter until the next court session, which according the regular schedule should be next Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. The Commissioners Court voted unanimously to table the matter.

HCFD Personnel Policy

Hopkins County Fire Department Operations Chief Doug Skinner then asked the Commissioners Court to consider a change to the fire department personnel policy regarding earned time off. He noted that while the typical work week for most county employees would be 40 hours, with vacation time earned based on time worked, fire department personnel typically work upwards of 56 hours a week, or 5 shifts (one 24-hour shift every third day) every 2 weeks. That’s 3.3 shifts per week. He asked that the fire department personnel policy be adjusted so that the on-duty firefighters earn vacation or time off just like any other calendar employee.

The commissioners court agreed to the change in HCFD personnel policy for HCFD personnel.

Other Matters

Also during the Jan. 3, 2023 regular Commissioners Court meeting, Barker made a motion with Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price seconded approving the consent agenda, which included requests from FEC to construct electric power distribution facilities across County Road 1127, north of County Road 1152 in Precinct 1, and across County Road 4128, southwest of FM 275 in Precinct 4. The Commissioners Court gave full approval to both requests.

The meeting was paused while the county clerk and recently reelected and a few appointed county officials’ bonds could be taken care of prior to the swearing in ceremony, which followed at 10 a.m. in the second floor courtroom at Hopkins County Courthouse. The Court then approved the bonds and the session adjourned.

County resident Mack Pitts during court thanked the judge, commissioners and all county employees “for making 2022 a good year for all of us.”

“While everybody’s not happy with everything, we’ve got a lot of people happy with a lot of things. So that’s a good deal. Our county here stands out and that’s because of the leadership within the county organization, all the county organizations. So thank you very much for that,” Pitts said. “Happy new year to each and every one of you to all the county employees and I truly appreciate what you’re going to do for us in 2023, especially my precinct commissioner. Thank you.”

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Author: Faith Huffman

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