Culberson County prepares for next phase of reopening

By Becky Brewster

Culberson County Commissioners met in regular session on June 8, 2020. Judge Carlos Urias presented the COVID-19 Pandemic Operating Plan as required by the State Office of Court Administration that must be in place for Texas Courthouses and annexes to open. Culberson County is designated as a “Level 3” because even though there are no documented COVID-19 cases in Culberson County, we are adjacent to a county that has five or more cases. Urias reviewed the main components of the plan that will apply to Culberson County offices:

Essential functions will continue to be done remotely, if possible.

Only one main door will be open, and will be controlled by Courthouse security.

Everyone entering the building will be required to wear face masks.

Visitors will be required to complete a COVID-19 questionnaire upon entering the building.

Protocols for spacing, hand sanitizers, temperatures, etc. will be followed.

To ensure compliance with these guidelines, the County will be hiring a Level III (licensed to carry) Security Guard to monitor entries at the front door to the Courthouse. In this first phase of reopening, the Courthouse offices will be open to the public for 24 hours each week: Monday-Thursday 9 am-12 pm and 1 pm-4 pm. Urias noted that the added expenses due to COVID-19 are expected to be reimbursed by the State.

Urias also reported that the County has been notified by the FAA that the shooting range used by law enforcement on airport property is not permitted by FAA standards. If the County wishes to change the land designation, approval by the FAA and the State is required. However, due to the proximity to the runways, such a change would most likely not be approved. The Commissioners immediately voted to close the shooting range, and will begin looking for a new location.

The Court unanimously approved a resolution in support of the extension of FM 2185 as proposed by the Texas Department of Transportation. The plan proposes approximately 30 miles of roadway at an estimated cost of $100 million. Once completed, this road will provide improved access by first responders to the northern part of the County.

Commissioner Gilda Morales reported on a proposed xeriscape garden at the cemetery. She reported that Charlie Lipsey is doing the design, and noted that she had secured donations and reduced prices of materials for the project.

In other County business, the Court also:

Heard an update on the TxCDBG grant for the food pantry noting that bids will be due July 2, 2020.

Approved an option for the 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan.

Received a Post Retirement Welfare Benefit GASB 75 Actuarial Study for costs relating to retiree insurance to be reviewed during the budget process.

Learned that the vendor failed to mail out mineral statements (A-L), which raises questions on the applicability of penalty and interest for late payments.

Approved refund of moneys being held in the Tax Office escrow account.

Approved an agreement with Spectrum Technologies for a printer lease for the dispatch/jail.

Discussed a vacant position in the road and bridge department.

Approved monthly reports.

Heard reports on various County Projects.

Approved monthly expenses and payroll.

Held an executive session on personnel matters.