Commissioners OK equipment purchase and sheriff request

By Becky Brewster

Culberson County Commissioners met in regular session on March 8, 2021. The Court approved the purchase of a motor grader and a 4000-gallon water truck for the Road and Bridge Department using the Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Program. The equipment cost $279,341.69 and $154,375.00 respectively. The purchases will be funded through the County Road and Bridge Fund with reserves set aside for this purpose.

Commissioners also passed a resolution to participate in the Lone Star Investment Pool for excess funds management. The County’s depository agreement with the Pecos County State Bank limits the amount of funds the County can have on deposit with the Bank. An investment pool will allow access to the County’s investments with a 24-hour notice, providing the most liquidity compared to other options. The County’s Investment Officer, County Auditor Mark Cabezuela, recommended that the Court take this action to invest approximately $3.7 million. Cabezuela will be required to take annual investment training to comply with state guidelines.

At the request of Sheriff Oscar Carrillo, the Court raised the rate of pay for the temporary cook at the jail from $11/hour to $12.50/hour. Temporary help is needed to cover for a scheduled medical absence. A prior employee is willing to cover for this time at a rate comparable to what she was previously earning. If the jail is unable to provide the meal services, the Sheriff would be required to house the inmates in another jurisdiction at a rate of $65/day.

Zach Schaefer, County Extension Agent, reported on 4-H and Clover Kids activities, noting that shooting sports have begun. Schaefer also reported that he will be implementing the Learn, Grow, Eat, and Go (LGEG) program with the 4th graders at CCAISD beginning March 17. LGEG “grows good kids through an interdisciplinary program combining academic achievement, gardening, nutrient-dense food experiences, physical activity, and school & family engagement.” [ https://agrilife.org/harris4h/sip/junior-master-gardener/learn-grow-eat-go/ ] LGEG is part of the Junior Master Gardener (JMG) program which is an international youth gardening program of the university cooperative Extension network. JMG “engages children in novel, ‘hands-on’ group and individual learning experiences that provide a love of gardening, develop an appreciation for the environment, and cultivate the mind.” [ https://jmgkids.us/lgeg/ ]. Schaefer also briefed the Court on his various other activities including plans for horticultural related programs such as rainwater harvesting and hydroponics.

The Commissioners tabled consideration of the Governor’s Executive Order GA 34 which effectively “reopens” Texas beginning March 10, 2021. On March 2, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-34 to provide that, in all counties not in an area with high hospitalizations:

there are no COVID-19-related operating limits for any business or other establishment; and

individuals are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household, but no person may be required by any jurisdiction to wear or to mandate the wearing of a face covering.

However, the Executive Order also states that nothing precludes businesses and other establishments from requiring that employees or customers follow additional hygiene measures, including the wearing of face coverings. The Court scheduled a special meeting for Monday, March 15, 2021 to consider what additional hygiene measures the County will continue to require as Texas moves to reopen.

In other County business, the Court also:

Heard report from the grant administrator regarding the Food Pantry, noting that the building has been ordered.

Ordered a new time clock for the Nutrition Center at a cost of $1175.00 for the first year.

Approved the renewal of the LexisNexis Contract for the Far West Texas Regional Public Defenders Office.

Received a review copy of the proposed Texas Association of Counties Updated Policy Manual for Culberson County, noting the last update was in 2003.

Approved monthly reports.

Heard reports on various County Projects.

Approved monthly expenses and payroll.