Hempstead County Quorum Court

The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Thursday February 28th. The JP’s first looked at the 2017 Audit findings. Judge Jerry Crane noted the JP’s had the report and asked if there were questions or comments. Ed Darling noted there were two findings dealing with posting errors. Darling said they didn’t affect the finances of the county but the auditors acted as if they were serious and procedures to correct them have been put in place. Darling also said there was a finding on the county judge’s use of his vehicle but there would be no comments on that as the situation is under investigation by the prosecutor. The JP’S voted to accept the findings with the acknowledgement of the open issue.

The JP’s approved an addition of $3,000 to the road budget. This would cover the Shop Superintendent’s position. Also approved was an ordinance which increased the county general budget by $5,000.

The JP’S looked at the prosecutor’s hot check report. No action was taken.

The JP’s approved appropriating $6,000 received from the 8th North Task Force for compensation on Captain McJunkins’ salary.

Hope Police Chief J.R. Wilson gave a report to the JP’s concerning an addition the city wants to add to their space in the Hempstead County Detention Center. The city wants to add about 1,800 square feet of space similar to what the county added several years ago. Chief Wilson showed an artist’s rendering but noted he didn’t have the final design. He asked if the county would approve the city pursuing the addition. The JP’s voted to allow the city to proceed. Sheriff James Singleton asked about the County’s responsibility for maintenance and Chief Wilson suggested that the county attorney and city attorney get together and come to agreement.

Richard Read of the Bicentennial Committee made a presentation to the JP’s concerning the disposition of the Time Capsule. He noted the Bicentennial Committee had voted to recommend the capsule be buried. Read gave a detailed description of what would happen were it to be buried and also gave a presentation on putting the time capsule into a wall with a with a window so it could be viewed inside the new Courthouse over the next 50 years. Cherry Stewart asked where it would reside between now and it’s disposition. Read asked that it be stored in the courthouse basement. Read asked for the JP’S feelings. JP’s Steed and Clayton voiced their opinion that they would like it in the courthouse. Clayton asked about the monument currently resting in front of the Farmers Bank. Read said Judge Morse made it plain it should be funded with Bicentennial Committee funds. Read said he thought the committee had agreed to spend $550 on the monument but that the committee had spent $1,100 on the stone. A JP asked if he knew the stone needed some corrections. Read said he didn’t know who authorized the wording on the stone. JP Clayton said Circuit Clerk Gail Wolfenbarger’s name and his name was misspelled. Read said he didn’t know why that was wrong. The JP’s agreed by acclimation to consult the architect on the new Courthouse to look at the conception of displaying the time capsule in the wall of the new Courthouse.

A scheduled speaker from the Senior Citizens did not attend the meeting.

Sheriff James Singleton addressed the JP’s. He asked for a resolution honoring the work of the late Jail Administrator Johnny Godbolt. It was agreed the county will work on the resolution. Sheriff Singleton said the Sheriff’s Department patrols 730 square miles. The only other law enforcement agency in the county is Hope with repsonsibility for 10.9 square miles. He said they have 2 open positions, one in patrol and one in courthouse security and they have someone training. Sheriff Singleton said he has contacted Spring Hill and Blevins about having a school resource officer. He said Blevins has funded one and will fund that position next school year. Sheriff Singleton said they had 2,500 warrants and served 1,500. He noted he has had to spend $21,000 on a new fingerprint machine. Sheriff Singleton addressed the department vehicles. He said the department has a fleet of 33 vehicles but only owns 22. The rest are state drug forfieture vehicles. Patrol vehicles are bought new on the state contract while others drive the state vehicles or locally bought used vehicles. The Sheriff said they have a donated camper for use as a command center as well as an armoured vehicle and Humvee from government surplus. He also noted there are reserve officers and vehicles around the county. The Sheriff said there were 116 crimes against children and that is unacceptable. He noted they had 1,606 prisoners in the past year and recividsm is 75%. The Sheriff talked about the 8th North Task Force. He talked about how the state has changed, for the better, how much medical expenses the county is responsible for in prisoners. The Sheriff also said at the end of the month there will be a serious situation at Hillarosa with the the mud Nationals bringing 8,000 to 30,000 to the Blevins area. The Sheriff detailed that the county can now get state tax refunds for to satisfy outstanding fines. The Sheriff also discussed dog attacks. He noted they are saving money by having 309 prisoners do oil changes. Sheriff Singleton says he is working to resurrect the litter program that wasn’t funded. The Sheriff answered a question on the proposed juvenile Center. The Sheriff said the fence is up and he and Ed Darling have met with someone with great interest in the project. The Sheriff said they are spending $100,000 per year on incarcerating juveniles outside of town and while there are no current funds available he is working on some measures which appear promising. He also talked about establishing a “safety town” there similar to Bossier City’s.

Judge Crane said he hopes to share some information on the road department and the county in what they are doing. He thanked JP’s Ed Darling and Steve Atchley for their help. The meeting then adjourned.