Hazardous traffic situation on John Conoly Road under scrutiny

By Becky Brewster

Culberson County Commissioners met in Regular Session on August 13. Judge Carlos Urias and Sheriff Oscar Carrillo discussed the hazardous traffic situation on John Conoly Road at the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) Intersection. Carrillo reported that there have already been six collisions with sand trucks and trains. The County is working with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and UPRR to determine what is needed to address the problem. Already, UPRR has placed sign boards alerting drivers to the upcoming train crossing and stop signs have been erected to replace yield signs. Carrillo declared that the Sheriff’s Office has been monitoring the traffic at the crossing to collect data, noting that even with law enforcement officers visible, many drivers still run the stop signs. The Court discussed the feasibility of erecting speed limit signs as well.

Sheriff Carrillo also reported that the County has received the metal detector that will be erected in the doorway to the County/District Courtroom in compliance with recent courthouse security mandates. Three deputies have been trained in courthouse security thus far, and two more will be trained soon. Carrillo also reported that his department has the software to allow them to interface with Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) but that a dedicated computer is needed. AFIS is a biometric identification methodology that uses digital imaging technology to obtain, store, and analyze fingerprint data. Carrillo updated the Court on the mandates from the Sandra Bland Act which went into effect on September 1, 2017. According to the Senate Research Center, S.B. 1849 (the Sandra Bland Act) addresses a variety of criminal justice topics including bail reform, jail diversion, jail safety, officer training, racial profiling, data collection, officer discipline, and behavioral health. Carrillo reported on the requirement for the installation of dashcams for the vehicles and for the provision of mental health telemedicine for inmates.

The Commissioners also renewed the County’s health insurance with the Texas Association of Counties for 2018-2019. Debbie Falknor told commissioners “benefits look really, really good for this year” and that this is the “first year with no increase, ” noting that the average premium increase has been 9%. Culberson County has a $250 deductible with a $2,000 co-pay. The County chose to maintain its coverage with no changes. Open enrollment is scheduled for October 29.

Molly Hernandez, Tax Assessor-Collector, presented the 2017 annual tax report and noted that the County has collected 96.8% of its 2017 taxes as of the June 30 tax year end. The uncollected taxes total $102,769.17. Hernandez presented the Certified Taxable Values and her continuing education hours.

  • In other County business, the Court also
  • Heard a report from the County Extension Agent on 4-H activities.
  • Discussed the 2016 TxCDBG grant program status noting the contract deadline is September 15.
  • Discussed the appointment of election judges for the November 6 election.
  • Increased the Sheriff’s and Constable’s fees to $150.
  • Approved a lease with Spectrum for new copiers.
  • Discussed entities that could receive donations from unclaimed jury fees.
  • Tabled the selection of a salary grievance committee.
  • Renewed the Redistricting contract with Allison, Bass and Magee LLP for $20,000.
  • Approved a Utility Permit.
  • Heard reports on various County Projects.
  • Approved monthly reports.
  • Approved monthly payroll and expenses for July and payment of current bills.