Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Time to read
4 minutes
Read so far

Bid process imminent for county Justice Center

August 21, 2019 - 00:00
Posted in:
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Photo courtesy of PGAL

The Grimes County Commissioners Court held a Regular meeting Wednesday, Aug. 14, and approved a timeline for bids and construction of the Grimes County Justice Center.

According to Michael Lloyd, principal and project manager of PGAL, the 32,093-square foot ADA accessible facility will house most county departments with the exception of the county attorney, county judge, election administration, probation, 9-1-1 and Road and Bridge.

Lloyd said, “We have a direct connect to the existing jail - the connection point is a climate-controlled walkway to the court.”

The walkway was approved by the Texas Jail Standards Commission and will reduce transport time of prisoners to one minute.

In addition to a district court and county court at law, the design includes a special proceedings courtroom that can serve the grand jury, Justices of the Peace and commissioners court. While the building contains secure entry, there are secure and non-secure areas.

Lloyd said, “On the east side we have the tax assessor, HR, treasurer, auditor, district clerk, county clerk so the public can come in the unsecured area and do their county business on this side of the corridor. The only way you can get from the non-secured to the secured area is by a secure key badge. We’ll have cameras as well to monitor the security of the building.”

The steel frame building will have a brick veneer with stone and stone cast accents. The roof is arched with a crown down the middle, sloping to each side.

The base plan allows for one entrance through the existing driveway at the Law Enforcement Center. Redesigning the gravel parking lot at the LEC, the driveway will become one contiguous concrete driveway shared by the LEC and the Justice Center. An add option of $225,000 provides for a second driveway from FM 149 on county-owned property.

The bid estimate of $12,100,000 includes the furniture and furnishings for all three courtrooms, jury rooms and conference rooms making them “ready to go opening day.”

The bid plans will be released Sept. 4. The bid submission deadline is Oct. 10 with a bid award date of Oct.

30. Estimated completion date is Dec. 31, 2020.

Firefighter association

contract not renewed

With four votes and an abstention by Commissioner Barbara Walker, a motion passed not to renew the annual contract with the Grimes County Firefighters Association (GCFFA). New contracts will be negotiated individually with the Anderson, Bedias, Iola, Plantersville, Richards, Shiro, Todd Mission and White Hall volunteer fire departments (VFD).

Introducing the agenda item, Judge Joe Fauth said, “I’m a firm believer if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but commissioners, I have some concerns about our volunteer fire departments.”

Fauth’s “basic list of concerns” included compliance with reporting mileage that vehicles travel and the hours in operation, reporting of training records and reporting of IRS filings.

He said, “I believe some of the volunteer fire departments (VFD) to be in compliance, some to be out of compliance and some not meeting the federal requirements as 501(c)(3) organizations.”

Fauth added his concern about boundary disputes between VFD chiefs and the Grimes County Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 dispatch, saying some departments called dispatch while an emergency was in progress with complaints about why one department was dispatched over another. Another was the management of how many vehicles are toned out for emergencies, the county’s obligation to pay those expenses based on what is reported, and possible congestion at accident locations when unnecessary vehicles are dispatched.

Fauth said, “We have a responsibility that these VFDs are in compliance with reporting of finances to the federal government and we as a county can’t distribute funds to organizations that aren’t in compliance because then we are in violation of bad management of taxpayer dollars.”

Present in court were Richards Fire Chief Court Nor-wood and Chief Dan Sharron of Shiro who described the purpose of the GCFFA as “general business.”

Commissioner Phillip Cox said that if the purpose is general business, “the Association itself is failing” and improperly presented IRS information puts the county “in jeopardy because we don’t know where the money we’re giving is being classified.”

The current agreement between Grimes County and GCFFA provides for a donation from the county of $32,500 to each department. In addition, they are reimbursed at a rate of $3.74 per mile per apparatus for travel to and from a call as well as a $22 per apparatus per hour for fire protection/firefighting equipment-time expended on each call. The GCFFA has requested an increase to $40,000 for budget year 2019-20.

Fauth proposed not renewing the contract, transferring Subdivision Coordinator duties from Emergency Management Coordinator David Lilly to Road & Bridge Engineer Harry Walker and providing Lilly with fire marshal training. Lilly would monitor the VFD’s to see that training records are in order and the financial records for which the county is responsible are audited.

Fauth also suggested paying a $2,500 stipend to the departments with Extrication Certification, no longer paying for mileage and hours, and eliminating boundary disputes by allowing GCSO dispatch to make the call based on first available and response time.

Fauth said, “Commissioners, I know I’m throwing a lot out to you right now. It’s not just a budget issue. There are some things that are not right.”

Other court action:

•Approved Consent Agenda Items that included the Treasurer’s list of claims and bills, the Grimes County Second Quarter Investment Report and budget amendments and line item transfers.

•Approved Al Peeler as the president of the Grimes County Historical Commission.

•Received a quarterly update from Navasota Grimes County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Johnny McNally.

•Approved a pay grade and title change for Barbara Kimich to Chief Deputy Clerk effective Oct. 1.

•Approved an agreement between Grimes County and Navasota ISD to provide and manage the School Resource Officer Program beginning Aug. 1, 2019-July 31, 2020.

•Tabled until Aug. 28 consideration and action regarding transfer of internet service from USFon to BVCOG.

•Approved the Interlocal Contract between the Dept. of Information Resources (DIR) and Grimes County relating to the use of the DIR Shared Services Master Service Agreement and named the county judge as signatory.

•Approved Auditor Mary Nichol’s request to transfer $7,909,061.52 from Fund balances 10, 17, 24, 26, 34, 34, 36, 41, 50 and 86 to Fund 49, Capital Projects Fund Balance.

•Tabled until Aug. 28 hiring a law firm as the county’s bond attorney for the Justice Center.

•Approved closure of the Keith solid waste collection site and terminate the lease.

•Approved a contract with J&B Propane for propane services to Grimes County buildings.

•Received a report from Engineer Harry Walker on Road & Bridge activities, drainage, sale of county property on FM 2445 and update on status of GLO-CDBG funding.

•Approved a Lease Agreement with the Navasota Livestock Auction for the new LED fairground sign on NLA property and authorized to add signage to county insurance policy.

•Approved establishing the salary, expenses and other allowances of elected county or precinct officers in accordance with Local Government Codes 152.011 and 152.013.

•Approved a Call Back Policy paying employees a minimum of two hours of pay at their designated pay rate in the event they are called back to work outside of their normal scheduled work hours.

•Tabled to Aug. 28 approval of a Public Comments Form, Commissioners Court Rules of Procedures, Conduct and Decorum, as amended by H.B. 2840.

•Tabled to Aug. 28 discussion of addition of a Fraud Policy to the Employee Policy Manual.

•Approved the salary for the newly hired Elections Administrator.

Burn ban status

The burn ban was reinstated.