Commissioners Court: April Child Abuse Prevention Month, Supports Habitat for Humanity, and More
March 20, 2019, the Commissioner’s Court was called to order with the Honorable Judge Kirkpatrick presiding, and all Commissioners Present. The reading of the minutes were dispensed with, and the county bills were paid as submitted.
A Retirement Celebration
During the agenda item General Business, Michael Jones was honored for his work with the county as he retires on April 1st. He has worked for 16 years on Road and Bridge, in precinct 2. Commissioner Melton made the presentation and expressed his gratitude for Jones’ years of service. “Mike is one of those employees that can operate every piece of equipment you got. Gradealls, the blades, the track loader, He’s got his CDL, he runs dump trucks, and any kind of machine. We have a detail at the county barn every morning at 7:00. For the 12 plus years that I’ve been here, Mike’s never been late one time. He’s a dedicated employee. It’s difficult to replace him.”
During public comments, Judge Kirkpatrick shared another win toward paying down debt. The county took on a $1.5 million dollar note in 2004 to build a minimum-security jail. As of this month, the note is now paid off. Important to realize, Kirkpatrick said it was a team effort. After court this writer asked Kirkpatrick for more detail. During that discussion, he shared that he ran for the position he holds in order to see Van Zandt County out of debt and free of just such obligations.
Inmate Calling System Is Up for Bid
The jail’s inmate calling system is up for renewal or bid. Hence, the Sheriff’s Office would like to send the service out to bid. They say the reason being is that there are companies who offer more options for inmates and their families than what the current provider, ICS Solutions offers. Sandra Hill, County Auditor, reminded the Judge that ICS Solutions requires a 90-days’ notice, otherwise, the contract will automatically renew. The contract expires in August, but according to Hill, “It’s a lengthy procedure, so we have to start early.”
Commissioner Keith Pearson brought up the point that the system generates revenue. The Sheriff’s representative explained that the county shares with the city a portion of what the inmates and their families spend on communicating. Hill also offered, that “It brought in $79,000 Last year. But that is part of the bid. The percentage of the call that we [county] get. That’s part of the bid package.” Sending the contract out for bid was approved by the court.
April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Sandy Hillard, Vice President of the Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards (region 4), made a presentation to the court. She asked that April be declared Child Abuse Prevention Month. Along with Hillard, were representatives from other support services providers. Organizations like Casa, Child Advocacy Center, Celebrate Recovery, and Child Protective Services. Accordingly, there will be events through the month of April to bring awareness to child abuse and neglect.
- The date for a bingo fundraising night for the Child Advocacy Center will be announced.
- Friday April 5, 2019 is Texas Go Blue Day. She encourages people to wear blue. In addition, she has blue ribbons and a blue bracelet that has the number for reporting abuse that people can wear.
- Friday April 26, 2019 will be a candlelight vigil held on the east side of the courthouse. If weather is bad, it will be held in the district courtroom. Judge Kirkpatrick will read a proclamation approved by the Commissioners Court. Moreover, a foster child will be the keynote speaker.
- Sunday April 28, 2019 is Go Blue Sunday. Churches are being asked to take time in their service to offer prayer for the victims of child abuse, as well as for those that care for them.
Education, awareness, and remembrance is the focus of the month. 211 Texas children died in 2018 due to abuse and neglect. Of the 211 children that died, 12 of them were from our region. At the present time, there are 137 Children in Van Zandt County in care. There will be “There is no excuse for Child Abuse” signs throughout the county, accompanied by blue bows.
Habitat for Humanity
In a like manner, Habitat for Humanity also asked for a proclamation to be approved by the Commissioners Court. The proclamation notes that 19.9% of Van Zandt’s 53,607 citizens are over the age of 65, 9.7% of which fall below the poverty level. The proclamation states that Commissioners Court supports Smith County Habitat for Humanity’s effort to obtain an Affordable Housing Program grant, though the Federal home Loan Bank of Dallas, to fund community revitalization efforts. The court likewise, unanimously approved the effort.
Speed Limit and ‘No Thru Truck’ Signs for Precinct 2
The last item of significance on the agenda was brought by Commissioner Melton of Precinct 2. He has been conducting road studies to see where heavy truck traffic is cutting through on country roads to access freeways or more main roads. Heavy truck traffic will only further deteriorate roads needing repair, as well as ruin newly paved roads. The court approved No Thru Truck signs for VZ County Road 2434 at its intersection with FM 1651 and FM 3227. In addition, a 40 mph speed limit has been set for VZ County Road 2115.