The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Thursday July 25th.
The meeting opened with an address from Terrie James of the Hempstead County office of the Cooperative Extension Service. She noted that her office will not be moving to the new courthouse but hopes to move to the college. She said Chancellor Chris Thomason is open to the office moving there; however, he told James he wasn’t sure they had any funds for renovation. James presented three options for the office at the college. One plan would call for 2,000 square feet similar to what the Cooperative Extension Service has now. The next plan has more “bells and whistles” and a third plan calls for an indoor swimming pool. James says the county’s agreement calls for the county to provide office space for the Cooperative Extension Service. James said she anticpates that whether they end up at the college or the Experiment Station there could be a charge for rent and maintenance. She anticpates this could be $12,000 to $20,000 per year. No action was taken and James thanked the Quorum Court for hearing her.
The County Judge was asked how the Courthouse transition is going. Judge Jerry Crane said the courthouse committee will meet Tuesday and will be taking bids on the renovation. The architect says it will be next April before the county can move in. Judge Crane says they do have some funds for the renovation and he hopes they can stay under budget.
Judge Crane gave a flood assessment from July 16th. He said the county only has one operating dump truck but two new ones are ordered. The Judge says they are waiting to see if they can get a Federal Disaster Declaration and get help from FEMA. The Judge also thanked the Sheriff’s Department and the Bingen Fire Department for their work. He noted the county lost a trash truck that was driven into the flood and was a total loss; however, the truck was covered by insurance and no one was injured. He said there was a lot of damage and culverts washed out into fields. He noted no roads are closed but several need further work. Judge Crane said they appreciate the public’s patience on fixing the roads.
Sheriff James Singleton said Greg Huckabee had been sent to hospice care and asked everyone to pray for him. He also reminded the JP’s that region OEM Coordinator Teresa Smith had lost her brother Greg Gilbert.
JP Jay Lathrop asked about how the county is situated on paying back the money the county borrowed to meet payroll. JP Ed Darling noted the county anticipated carryover of $400,000 but most departments spent most of their money and carryover was virtually non-existent. Darling noted sales tax revenue is down about $250,000 for the year to date. He also said several big projects are getting sales tax rebates are around $750,000. Darling said the county general budget is about $2.3 million for the next six months but revenue is projected at $2.1 million so he expects the budget committee will meet with county officials to discuss some budget trimming. He said he doesn’t think any layoffs will be necessary.
J.P. Clayton asked if the JP’s would mind if he asked Steve Harris of the Hempstead County Economic Development Corporation to come give a report on economic development. The JP’s indicated they would like that. The meeting then adjourned