September 18, 2023
By Jasper County Judge Mark Allen
The Jasper County Commissioners Court met on Monday, September 18th, 2023 in a Regular Session and covered the following agenda items:
First, the Court voted to award a contract to Langford Community Management Services for grant administration services for a $250,000.00 U.S.D.A. Community Wildfire Protection Plan grant. This grant will assist Jasper County with developing a countywide wildfire protection plan, which will be utilized in conjunction with the current Hazard Mitigation Plan to provide needs assessments that are required for upcoming rounds of funding to assist local county departments and volunteer fire departments with obtaining equipment for fire mitigation and response.
Next, the Court authorized the engineering firm Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong out of Lufkin to advertise for bids for the Texas Department of Agriculture Community Development Block Grant project that Jasper County is sponsoring on behalf of the Holly Huff Water Supply for infrastructure improvements in the amount of $350,000.00.
In other grant matters, the Court voted to authorize the publication of requests for qualifications for demolition services on floodplain buyout properties under the Hurricane Harvey Round 1 of Community Development Block Grant funding. Jasper County received approximately $6.8 million in floodplain buyout grant funding and is currently working with the City of Jasper to aid several residents who have property identified as eligible under this program. Upon completion of the process, the City of Jasper will retain the buyout properties for use as green space.
Concluding grant business, the Court voted to approve construction contracts on bid packages on Jasper County’s Community Development Block Grant competition round of funding, which was approximately $14.8 million for drainage and flood mitigation on county roads along the U.S. Highway 96 corridor from the City of Jasper down to just south of Buna.
The winning bids were from Lakey, Inc. out of Lufkin in the amount of $3,063,711.61 and Apek Construction out of Jasper in the amount of $648,007.45. The current slate of roads to be addressed and improved under these contracts will be County Roads 317, 434, 339, 569, 601, 603, 599, 604, 607, 608, 610, 725, and 645, all of which are located in Commissioner Precincts 3 and 4. Additional areas of Jasper County will be addressed with projects identified on the next round of contracts with the remaining grant funding.
In road and bridge matters, the Court voted to approve the addition of approximately 0.25 miles of road off Private Road 3037, contingent upon a legal opinion to be obtained by Jasper County’s attorney. The Court noted that a prior Commissioners Court in 1968 had approved an easement for county road access through U.S. Forest Service property in the Angelina National Forest but wanted to ensure this section was legal to include in Jasper County’s road system.
In other road and bridge business, the Court voted to approve an agreement between Jasper County and Cadence Equipment Finance for a lease on two 2024 Mack dump trucks for Commissioner Precinct 1 Seth Martindale.
Next, the Court voted to authorize County Auditor Mellissa Smith to republish for bids for aviation fuel at Jasper County’s Bell Field Airport. The Court noted that two bids for contracts had been received, but that both bidders submitted after the legal deadline for acceptance.
The Court then heard from County Treasurer Rene’ Ellis on behalf of the employee policy committee, who requested that the Court approve a policy amendment preventing certain types of social media to be utilized on county-owned electronic equipment, more specifically the TikTok social media platform. This policy change was to maintain compliance with the recently passed SB #1893, which mandates that certain social media platforms be banned from any governmental agency device or network in Texas. The Court noted that TikTok and several other platforms were already blocked on Jasper County’s servers and network.
In another state compliance agenda item, the Court voted to amend juror pay in Jasper County for Grand Jury and Petit Jury members to $20 for all or part of the first day of service and $58 for each following day of service in accordance with HB # 3474.
Next, the Court voted to appoint County Judge Mark Allen to the Spindletop Center Board of Trustees, representing Jasper County as the newest member of the mental health authority, which also represents Jefferson, Hardin, Orange and Chambers Counties.
The Court then voted to approve state mandated health care services for Jasper County’s Indigent Health Department for the upcoming year.
The Court also voted to renew Jasper County’s retiree Medicare health insurance supplement through the Texas Association of Counties – County Choice Silver program, which is paid by the retiree at no cost to Jasper County.
In other business, the Court heard the Jail report from Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Scott Duncan who advised that they had invoiced a total of $31,560.00 for housing inmates from Nacogdoches, Newton, Sabine and Tyler Counties in the month of August 2023.
The Court then voted to distribute approximately $64,000.00 in available Jasper County School Land funds to the school districts with students from Jasper County, averaging approximately $11.04 per student. These distributions are a result of the interest received on Jasper County’s permanent school land fund.
Concluding business, the Court voted to nominate Mr. Keith Stephens of Jasper for the Jasper C.A.D. board of directors, then heard from District Clerk Rosa Norsworthy and County Treasurer Rene’ Ellis, who provided their monthly reports.
That covers it for this Court meeting. Have a great week and as always, feel free to call me if you need anything my way.