Fri July 01, 2022

By Jeff Smithpeters

Hempstead County Quorum Court meets Thursday, hears Sheriff's report, resident's road complaint, puts off two ordinances

The Quorum Court of Hempstead County met in its regular June meeting to consider two ordinances, hear a citizen's complaint about the condition of a county road and hear Sheriff James Singleton's half-year report on statistics and financial information pertaining to his office.

The meeting in its entirety can be seen here.

considered regarding use of funding from the American Rescue Plan to digitize county records so they made be made more widely available on the internet. He said he needed to do more legal research to be sure of avoiding a state audit.

Some confusion arose as to whether it was right for the Court to approve an ordinance awarding Deputy Treasurer Amber Mackey and staffer Mona Still bonuses for extra work while County Treasurer Judy Flowers was out due to COVID. Justice of the Peace James Griffin pointed out that in May the court sent the ordinance to its Finance Committee for consideration of the ordinance. But the committee, chaired by JP Ed Darling did not meet since the May meeting. After some discussion about whether going ahead with approval of the bonus set a bad precedent, a vote was taken and the ordinance was narrowly defeated. But the ordinance will still be considered in the Finance Committee and can be approved after that committee has met

Hempstead County resident Drury Hoover reported on the state of the county road she lives on south of town. When a Patmos Road bridge was out due to repairs being performed by the city, traffic diverted through Highway 56, the heavy trucks doing heavy damage to the paved road.  The city provided gravel in an attempt to deal with the damage. County Judge Jerry Crane said that the money to repave was not available currently but in the future a dispersal of state funds is expected that will pay for 80 percent of the cost of the work.

Sheriff James Singleton gave a half-year report both on crime statistics from his office and financial matters. In nearly every category, the county’s crime statistics are trending upward, including in numbers of victims (3,067 total with 404 juveniles included), arrests (1,086), stolen property value ($126,796) numbers of inmates in jail (average daily count of 76) , numbers of meals served at the jail (25,050).

Singleton also mentioned three areas of budget concerns. The food budget for the year is projected to go $35,000 over budget. The fuel for transport jail budget is down to $175 left for the year.  The juvenile lodging budget is projected to go $34,000 over budget.

The Court at this point discussed ways of addressing these shortfalls. JP and Finance Committee Chair Ed Darling said these shortfalls can legally be covered using funds from federal COVID relief.

Singleton also communicated his satisfaction with the county’s carrying out of the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment grant of $355,693. He said he was also gratified by the numbers participating in the program. Drug offenders would serve 90 days at the county jail, then, should they apply and be chosen for the program begin nine months of classes—many of them religious in content--while residing at the Banner Hope rehabilitation facility. Singleton emphasized that the program was voluntary and therefore not an instance of government coercion toward a particular religion.