County in the dark about airport runway

By Becky Brewster

The Culberson County Commissioner’s Court is literally in the dark at the Culberson County Airport with the lights on the main runway out of commission.  The County has contracted a local electrician to fix the problem, but illness has delayed the project.  The Commissioners discussed the feasibility of requiring the contractor to subcontract the work if it cannot be completed in a timely manner.  According to Cody Davis, an EMT at the hospital, a near crisis arose when the lights on the second runway also went down interfering with the transport of patients with critical needs.  He reported the issue to the County and the problem with the second runway was quickly resolved.  However, the lack on lights on the main runway continues to cause concern for pilots needing to land at night.

Susie Hinojos,  County Treasurer, reported that all but three of the County vehicles are out of compliance with inspections and registration.  The Court directed that the County vehicles be taken to Sierra Blanca for inspection as there is no licensed inspection station in Van Horn.  Once all the vehicles are inspected, the paperwork and payment can be submitted to the tax office for registration to ensure that the County vehicles are once again street legal.

The Commissioners also approved the increase of the hourly pay rate from $10 to $11 for part-time employees hired after October 1, 2015.  Susie Hinojos, County Treasurer, read an excerpt from the October 13, 2015 minutes which previously addressed the pay rate for part-time employees.  A lengthy discussion ensued with the final action leaving a part-time employee with certifications as a telecommunicator and jailer but with the misfortune of being hired prior to the October 1 date with a lower hourly rate than the new hires.  Susie Hinojos suggested that the Commissioners consider the revision of the 2013 salary scale since the base starting pay for full-time employees is now less than the starting hourly rate for part-time employees.  Judge Urias concurred and agreed to consider this at a future meeting.

In other matters, the Court enacted an Order prohibiting concealed and open carry hand guns in certain parts of the Courthouse.  These areas, including the offices of the County Judge, County Clerk and County Attorney, are mandated by law.  Legislation is pending at the state level to prohibit hand guns in all areas of the Courthouse.

In other County business, the Court also

• Heard the monthly Agrilife Extension Office report.  Lainie Koch reported on the Trans-Pecos Big Buck Tournament, a Trans-Pecos Wildlife Management program and the upcoming Culberson County Livestock Show.

• Approved the renewal with Pitney Bowes for a 48-month service agreement for the postage meter.

• Renewed the contract with Gary Jackson for the airport hangar for one-year at $222/month.

• Approved the bids for two properties listed with the Culberson County Appraisal District.

• Approved an Interlocal Agreement with the Regional Public Defender for capital cases.

• Conducted an Executive Session with no action following in open session.

Adopted the 2016 Holiday schedule.

• Heard reports on County Projects.

• Approved December payroll and expenses.


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