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Jasper County Commissioners Court


The Jasper County Commissioners Court met on Monday, March 18th, 2024 in a Regular Session and covered the following agenda items:


First, the Court recognized the Brookeland ISD Wildcat and Ladycat basketball teams for an outstanding 2023-2024 basketball season with a resolution congratulating both teams and Coach Brandon Shumake and Coach Kaylyn Loving , who were both named 28-1A Coaches of the Year, as well as the students and staff that made the season a success.


In other business, the Court heard from Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Jason Hollyfield, who presented the monthly Jail report, noting that the Sheriff’s Office had invoiced a total of $29,235.00 for housing inmates from Nacogdoches, Newton and Tyler Counties during month of February, 2024.


The Court then voted to approve the contract between Jasper County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for law enforcement patrol support in the Lake Sam Rayburn area. Under this contract, the Army Corps of Engineers funds an extra Deputy Sheriff position and vehicle to patrol the area parks and areas around Sam Rayburn during peak months from Spring to early Fall. Jasper County has participated in this program for more than two decades and has found that it is greatly beneficial to have this extra officer patrolling during major fishing tournaments or peak park usage times.


Concluding law enforcement business, the Court voted to approve an addendum to Jasper County’s contract with NCIC Inmate Communications for inmate telephone, video call and messaging services inside the Jail facility.


In grant related matters, the Court voted to approve two change orders on behalf of the Holly Huff Water Supply under a Texas Department of Agriculture Community Development Block grant to upgrade the water supply infrastructure in that community. The change orders that were approved involve upgrading and moving electrical service for $15,000.00 and repairs to a water tank by replacing an interior ladder and vent stack in the amount of $1,300.00.


The Court also approved an alternate bid received on the project for booster pumps for the water supply in the amount of $39,600.00, all of which will be funded by the Texas Department of Agriculture grant, with any remaining overages paid for by the Holly Huff Water Supply.


Next, the Court approved a donation of $5,000.00 from the WestRock papermill in Evadale for Jasper County’s Office of Emergency Management and thanked the papermill for all that it does to support the community.


In grant related matters, the Court voted to participate in a regional interlocal agreement between Jasper County and the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission to receive approximately $500,000.00 in grant funding through the Texas Department of Agriculture Sudden Urgent Needs program to assist in funding dead tree removal from the right-of-way on Jasper County roads.


Because it is expected that the four counties within the SETRPC will participate, the grant itself is expected to be up to $2,000,000.00 total for the region for dead tree removal. The Court noted that all of the included counties had a large number of trees that died after the major drought in 2023.


Next, the Court heard from representatives of the Blackfin Pipeline project, located in the Evadale area in south Jasper County, who advised that they were in the process of acquiring approximately fifty-five acres of land for the construction of a compressor station in Jasper County, which would be used in conjunction with tying in multiple natural gas pipelines from other companies.


The representatives advised that this project would involve a $70,000,000.00 investment in Jasper County and would create up to 60 construction jobs and add at least 2 permanent jobs, with an estimated operational lifespan of at least 30 years. They further advised that plans involved construction to start at the end of 2024 with a completion in early 2026.


The Court then voted to approve the receipt of the tax abatement application and to initiate the process of establishing a reinvestment zone in the proposed area while working on a negotiated tax abatement.


In road and bridge matters, the Court voted to authorize an interlocal agreement allowing individual Jasper County Commissioners to assist their counterparts in Newton County with road projects as needed as long as equitable compensation was made.


Precinct 3 Commissioner Willie Stark noted that many of the county roads in Jasper County did not terminate at the county line, but instead continued traveling into Newton County. The Court noted that this would be voluntary on the part of each Commissioner and that only Precincts 2,3 and 4 bordered Newton County where any shared road repair operations would be conducted.


Concluding road and bridge business, the Court then voted to award contracts on bids received for tires, road oil, pipes, construction steel, culverts and road rock and materials. Among the winning bidders were local vendors Rural Pipe, Hollis Tire and Lakeway Tire of Jasper.


The Court then heard from John Pace with 1st Insurance Services who presented Jasper County’s property and liability insurance renewal for 2024. The Court noted that the increase in cost amounted to $160,365.00, attributing it to mandated increases in coverage as well as increases in coverage for law enforcement and automobile liability. After a brief discussion, the Court voted to approve the renewal, but advised that it would like to mitigate costs of coverage over the next few months by removing any unnecessary equipment or buildings off the policy by self-insuring, as well as ensuring that county vehicle drivers attend defensive driving courses on a regular basis.


In other business, the Court heard from County Treasurer Rene’ Ellis, who presented Jasper County’s annual investment policy renewal and her monthly financial reports, then from District Clerk Rosa Norsworthy who presented her monthly criminal and civil fee reports, all of which the Court approved.


The Court also heard from County Clerk Holly Thomas, who presented the 2024 Primary Election Results for review and filing, and from County Auditor Mellissa Smith, who advised that her office had received $95,005.00 in bids on surplus county vehicles and equipment auctioned through the GovDeals.com website.


Next, the Court considered acquiring a location to move the District Attorney’s Office that would allow for District Attorney Anne Pickle and her staff to operate under the expanded caseload that her office handles daily and to a secure area which allow for she and her staff to meet with law enforcement officers, victims and witnesses on sensitive cases.


Ms. Pickle advised that she had done a walkthrough of the existing Jasper-Newton Counties Public Health District building in Jasper and felt that if it were still available, it would provide her office the space needed to operate and to also move her filing system from the Records Repository building to this office where she would have direct access under one roof, and that by moving to the building, office space and records filing space would be freed up at the Courthouse and Repository for other county departments.


After a brief discussion, the Court voted to offer up to $215,000.00 to the Jasper-Newton Counties Public Health District to acquire the building itself and the parking lot across the street from the building, and to utilize the services of Jasper Title Company for any title work involved.


Next, the Court voted to approve the preliminary plat for the Neches River Acres Subdivision, which is comprised of eleven subdivision lots and is adjacent to Recreational Road 255 and the Neches River.


Concluding business, the Court voted to assist the local Emergency Services Districts and volunteer fire departments with accessing and utilizing the services of the Texas Facilities Commission to assist them in acquiring surplus military, federal and state vehicles and equipment.


That covers it for this Court meeting. Have a great week and as always, feel free to give me a call if you need anything my way.


Mark Allen, Jasper County Judge


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