The Hempstead County Quorum Court’s most recent meeting had just enough members present for a quorum, allowing them to pass a couple of ordinances related to budgets and to vote on a resolution to name the Red Lake Rd. overpass in Fulton after Maleah Davis. Most of the meeting though was taken up with a presentation explaining the new health care plan all county employees are enrolled in as of July, discussion about how to go about getting vehicles needed by the Sheriff’s Department, updates on recent storms and progress toward relocating to the former Farmers Bank building.
Maleah Davis Memorial Bridge Proposal
The Quorum Court unanimously a resolution to name the Red Lake Rd. overpass in Fulton in honor of 4-year-old Maleah Davis, of Houston, TX, who was murdered and located a month later along the exit 18 eastbound on-ramp. The resolution was presented to the county after Sheriff James Singleton and HPD Investigator Jesus Coronado came up with the idea of making a section of I-30 after her. ARDOT advised that naming sections of the interstate was reserved for State Troopers and law enforcement so the resolution to name the overpass after Maleah was drawn up and presented to the Quorum Court. Sheriff Singleton told the Quorum Court that private funds have been raised to cover the expense of the signs and will not cost the county anything. With the resolution’s approval, Sheriff Singleton said they will be able to take the next step required to bring the project to fruition.
Solid Waste Budget
The fourth unanimously approved Ordinance 2019-11 to adopt the appropriation of the 2019 Waste budget of $1,105,408 with an anticipated revenue of $1,201,660. The ordinance also earmarked $28,614 for the Solid Waste Department budget for vehicles.
County Special SWAPPD Grant/SAWFBHC Budget
The Court also unanimously approved ordinance 2019-12 – adopting amending appropriation of County Special Grant Budget for the SWAPPD Grant/SAWFBHC Budget. The ordinance puts $166,994.78 from the grant to make up the difference in the remaining expense of a project in Spring Hill which cost more than was anticipated and budgeted for in 2018.
New County Health Plan
The Quorum Court listened to a presentation by Shane Martin of L.S. & Associates Insurance Consultants laying out details of the county’s new health care plan. The new plan is in effect as of July 1, 2019. Martin said that he and his company have already met with employees to educate them about the changes that come with the new plan. Martin said that the county employees will be getting service “like they’ve never seen.” The consultants advised the county health plan is now with Performance Health, part of the Signa Network, which covers companies like UPS. Martin laid out savings and improvements in service, giving line-by-line comparisons of the previous plan and the one with Performance Health.
Treasurer Update on Finances
Treasurer Judy Flowers presented the Quorum Court with the state of the County’s finances as of the first six months of 2019. Flowers said that the county is currently spending far more than it is bringing in and that the spending is worse than last year. A motion was passed to have the Finance Committee to look into the issue.
Judge Crane Updates
Judge Jerry Crane updated the Quorum Court on recent severe storms and the months of rain which has caused damage to roads and delayed progress on road projects. Judge Crane said that the county is moving forward on road projects and commended both employees and citizens who got out in the storms to help clear roadways. Judge Crane thanked Superintendent Kidd and all the road crew employees and Sheriff Singleton and the county’s Deputies who work through the night and into the early morning hours every time a storm hits to make sure county roads were passable and safe for the resident. Judge Crane called out and expressed his gratitude to the people of the Patmos community who took it upon themselves to get out with equipment and assist in clearing trees from roadways recently. Judge Crane said that the most recent severe storm to hit the county downed more than 50 trees across roads. Patmos Road alone had 8 trees completely blocking it. Judge Crane said it was a huge help for the citizens of Patmos to give their time, labor and equipment toward clearing the roads and he and the county are very grateful to them.
New Courthouse Progress
With the relocation of Farmers Bank to their new location, Judge Crane said the county is a lot closer to getting work done at the new Courthouse location and should be getting bids in by the middle of July.
Sheriff’s Department Vehicles
Judge Crane also gave an anecdote concerning Sheriff’s Department vehicles, some of which need replacing. Judge Crane said he was out with a deputy during the storms and the patrol vehicle sounded like it could die at any time. Judge Crane encouraged the JP’s to do whatever is possible to help the Sheriff’s Department to get the vehicles they need. “I want a deputy to be able to get to me if I need help,” Judge Crane said. Sheriff Singleton gave the JP’s information on the current state of the fleet and a discussion took place to see what options are available. Sheriff Singleton said that the Sheriff’s Office is going to be auctioning off seized vehicles and guns as well as a handful of Sheriff’s Office vehicles in August but most of the funds from the auction are already spoken for and won’t be available for purchasing new vehicles.