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COVID relief allows temporary hiring by county

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Grimes County Commissioners Court held a Regular Meeting Wednesday, June 10, broadcast via Facebook Live. All commissioners were present and observing social distancing policies.

Among the items approved was the National Dislocated Worker (NDW) Temporary Disaster Relief Employment COVID-19 2020 Worksite Agreement with Workforce Solutions of the Brazos Valley. The purpose of the agreement is “to identify and establish temporary jobs to assist in the cleanup, and humanitarian efforts associated with COVID-19 disaster.”

Commissioner Barbara Walker said while not all workers are from Grimes County, Grimes County residents may participate if they go through the program and can request placement in Grimes County. According to the agreement, employment will end no later than March 31, 2021, or when 2,080 hours have been completed and temps will be available for hire after the temporary period ends.

Upon court approval, three temporary employees may be hired in the Facilities Maintenance Department, supervised by Facilities Manager Al Peeler but paid by Workforce Solutions. This agreement assists the county in complying with a mandate from the 12th and 506th District Courts’ COVID-19 Operating Plan for the Grimes County Judiciary approved May 27.

Looking down the road, Peeler said, “It allows me to have these three employees to see how they’re going to work with everything Grimes County has coming up. That will allow me to train, hopefully, the personnel that we’ll move right into the justice center. That will help us in the long run.” The pay for the temporary maintenance jobs will be $12.35 per hour.

Communications audit seeks savings

Commissioners approved an agreement with The SpyGlass Group, LLC, to audit county bills for the past several years for rate or tariff changes, or changes in the law for rate reductions, which were not reflected on the county’s bills.

IT Director Gregg Cannon said, “SpyGlass is a company that’s been around over 20 years and all they do is audit your telecommunications bill, whether it’s cell phones, landlines or internet connections, and it costs us nothing unless they find savings.”

Referring to unused or unnecessary circuits and fax lines that are still active, Auditor Mary Nichols said, “I really believe we have quite a few lines that are not in use and we’re paying for it.”

The audit could also have a positive impact on the new justice and business center construction.

Cannon said, “It will allow us to reduce the number of lines we think we’ve got to port.”

Included in the review will be the Iola barn and JP office, adult probation and old hospital in Navasota plus all circuits in Anderson.

SpyGlass is paid at a rate of 50% if they find a cost recovery. The audit lasts ap proximately 4-6 weeks.

Land exchange agreement amended

Commissioners approved an amended Exchange Agreement for a value-for-value land swap of 14.5 acres owned by Grimes County and 9.3045 acres owned Jim Westmoreland. The land exchange will allow access from SH 90 to the Grimes County Justice and Business Center under construction adjacent to the Grimes County Law Enforcement Center.

In addition to a correction of the document’s description made by County Attorney Jon C. Fultz, was the request by Westmoreland for construction of a public road on the 100-foot wide strip to occur within 12 months rather than 18 months, or the property will revert to its respective owners.

After lengthy discussion, commissioners approved the amended agreement which included the document’s description and the 12-month clause but without the previously included 2-foot wide strip reserve along the south line of Westmoreland’s 1.94-acre tract.

Burn ban: The burn ban remains lifted.

Other court action:

•Approved Consent Agenda Items that included Treasurer’s list of claims and bills and payroll.

•Facilities Maintenance/Project Manager Al Peeler gave an update on the courthouse restoration, jail mold remediation and justice and business center construction.

•Received the Road & Bridge Report submitted by Engineer Harry Walker which noted the new county maintenance barn on FM 2445 scheduled for completion June 30 is awaiting completion of cell tower work that will provide internet service to the building and surrounding area.