Commissioners Court: Van Zandt’s New Cert Team, Jail’s New Roof, March of Remembrance Proclamation, More
Wednesday April 3, 2019, Commissioners Court was called to order, with the Honorable Judge Kirkpatrick presiding. All Commissioners were present. The reading of the minutes was dispensed with, and the county bills were paid as submitted.
Other than the fact that the County Fair is underway, there was no other general business noted or public comments.
A 2001 International dump truck, Model 4900, was approved for purchase for $13,000. Precinct 4 will purchase the truck from Jackie Weifinger. Commissioner West reported that it is in “extremely good shape” and has “low mileage.”
Van Zandt Gets a Local Cert Team
Ken Clark, a member of the Fire Department, introduce Mike Ross of the East Texas Cert (Community Emergency Response Team). East Texas Cert was asking for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Van Zandt County. The goal is to to officially expand Cert services into Van Zandt, and to train Van Zandt volunteers. The training is the same that firefighters receive. Their training includes: fire safety, disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, life search and rescue, disaster psychology, law enforcement training in relation to child abduction, wildlife support, triage support, and more. Clark stated that there are 30-35 volunteers ready to be trained.
East Texas Cert has done much to assist local Van Zandt fire and Sheriff in times of need. Their services have ranged from assisting in the search for missing children, to search and rescue after a tornado. Cert only responds when called in by local fire or sheriff. They then work under the authority of the agency requesting their assistance. A Van Zandt Cert team would double the size and manpower of the fire department in the case of disaster.
Jail Gets a new Roof
Gary Adams, Jail Planner and Consultant for DRG Architects was very involved in the original build-out of the Detention Center. He returns to develop plans for a new roof and assess the facility for other needed repairs. The objective of course, is to bring the facility up to building compliance standards. Adams was present to answer any questions the court may have as they discussed whether or not to use the firm’s services. Moreover, he said the firm will evaluate and present options. He is aware that the roof has been leaking for some time.
There was light hearted joking between Adams and Commissioner West. Adams said that they’re here for the second go round, but may not be here for the third. West’s response elicited laughter from the courtroom. The Judge jumped in saying in that case, someone better hurry up and make a motion, resulting in more laughter. The court approved securing the services of DRG Architects.
March of Remembrance
Gary Vawter, coordinator for the Holocaust March of Remembrance, appeared before the court to seek a permit to gather, as well as a proclamation. The Holocaust March of Remembrance, held this year on April 28, 2019, is a yearly event. People gather in their local communities around the world, and walk a mile or so through their community carrying banners and flags. Noteably, the purpose is to make the statement: “We will never forget!” In other words, what is being remembered are all the lives lost and the brutality to which antisemitism leads. Participants wear the yellow star similar to that worn by Jews in the internment camps. On the back of each star, sadly, is the name of one of the 2 million children who died.
The march starts at the courthouse steps at 1:30 p.m., and continues on to Victory Church. The church is located at 1200 W. College St. Canton, TX 75103. The route is 1.1 miles long, approximately a 20-minute walk.
The program starts at 2:30 p.m. at Victory Church. The speaker is usually a survivor of the camps. This year’s speaker is 90 years old, and had been in Dachau concentration camp.
The proclamation declares April as Van Zandt County Holocaust Remembrance Month. The proclamation was approved and then read by Vawter. Before he did though, Judge Kirkpatrick declared the event very moving, and encouraged all to participate.
The Holocaust Remembrance Proclamation
The proclamation remembers the liberation and closing of concentration camps over 70 years ago, at the end of WWII. It also remembers the atrocities associated with the Holocaust, including the extermination of approximately 11 million people: 6 million of whom were Jews. Equally important, the remainder were the physically and mentally disabled, LGBTQ people, Gypsies, Polish and Slavic peoples, Jehovah Witnesses, priests, pastors, and those belonging to political opposition groups. In addition, the proclamation recognizes this is the day Israel remembers her loss. Hence, Van Zandt County officially remembers the 11 million who perished, honors those who survived, and promises never again to remain silent in the face of antisemitism or ethnic genocide.
April Designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Crystal Mayer, Victim Legal Advocate for East Texas Crisis Center in Canton, came before the court seeking a proclamation that April be designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month. At the same time, she made a special presentation of the Hope Award.
The proclamation detailed the devastating impact of sexual assault on men, women, and children of all races and economic situations. The effect is severe, long lasting, and often results in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, as well as other physical and psychological ailments. The objective is to promote awareness, provide education to victims, schools and law enforcement, and to make known the network available for help.
Jake Smith presented with the Hope Award
Next Mayer presented Investigator Jake Smith with the Hope Award. She said, “The Hope Award is very special. We give it twice a year. Once for Sexual Assault Awareness. Once for Domestic Violence Awareness. I ask community members, local law enforcement, my clients to give me the name of someone who has impacted them. Someone who has helped them walk through this journey. Among all of them, they said Jake Smith. He is definitely deserving of this award. It is long overdue. He’s been doing this job for a very long time.”
County Bids are Awarded
Ables-Land Office Supplies again won the office supply bid for the period of May 1, 2019 through April 30, 2019. They were the lowest bidder, they deliver, and have provided excellent service in the past. The competing bid was from an online company that could not underbid Ables-Land.
The Road and Bridge materials contract was awarded to 16 different companies. These were the lowest bidders. Though overall, they were the lowest bidders, the cost of materials will increase by 10% over last year. This is due to the tariff on imported oil increasing. After court, this reporter spoke with Commissioner Melton to ask why we import our oil. He said that the U.S. simply doesn’t produce enough at this time. The price of oil has been so inexpensive in the past, that we chose to import over developing production and supply lines in our own country.
The Road and Bridge fuel contract also went to our current provider. The price of which has not gone up.
Approval of Plats
Two separate plats in Precinct 2 were approved. Durango Estates off FM 2408, and Foley Estates off VZ County Road 2501. In fact, the Durango Estates, will be broken into four 4-acre lots and two 2.8-acre lots.
No Thru Truck Signs
Commissioner Melton has been assessing the truck traffic on county roads in his precinct. Over the last several sessions he has brought requests for the court to consider and approve No Thru Truck signs on several roads. Likewise, this session he brought several more requests that were unanimously approved by the court.
Two signs will be placed on VZ County Road 2112 at I-20 and at State Hwy 243. additionally, two more will be placed on VZ County Road 2512 at State Hwy 243 and at FM 3227. Another two signs will be placed on VZ County Road 2504 at State Hwy 243 and at FM 3227. The remaining two signs will similarly be on VZ County Road 2404 at FM 3227 and at FM 1651.
Susan Skommesa is a freelance investigative reporter and editor with The Northeast Texan. In addition, she flips houses and remodels homes with her husband, Steve. Her many interests include research, public speaking, studying Biblical and Paleo-Hebrew, all things health and nutrition, knitting, homesteading, and teaching and writing on topics of faith, gardening, pets, chickens, and human interest.