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Christopher search highlights radio needs for county

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    Commissioner David Dobyanski recognizes Pet. 2 Justice of the Peace Administrative Clerk, Kathy Wingard, for 35 years of service. Wingard will retire at the end of November. Examiner photo by Connie Clements

At a Regular Meeting of the Grimes County Commissioners Court Wednesday, Nov. 17, commissioners approved adding 31 radio subscriptions, or usage fee, to the Grimes County 700/800 MHz radio count. According to Emergency Management Services Coordinator David Lilly, this brings the total radio count to 374.

According to Lilly, eight will go to Grimes County First Responders, five to the Plantersville VFD, one to Richards VFD and 17 to Todd Mission VFD.

Lilly said, “The purpose of this is to give them the capability for their firefighters and EMTs to participate and be a part of the response. This is something I see as huge positive because when we first started this process, we received a lot of pushback from the fire department about going to digital. They were concerned that we were doing away with VHF. Over the last several years, they have come to see that these radios are more reliable, provide a clearer signal, and on top of that, everyone within the county and outside the county are using digital.”

Lilly continued, “This came to a head and potentially could have been a problem during our search for Christopher. We had a lot of helping agencies show up from outlying counties and several firefighter departments responded, and all the outlying teams were on digital. Some of the fire departments did not have enough digital radios to communicate with their partners who came in from outside the county. We actually had to figure out a way to patch their VHF into the other partners’ digital so they could hear each other. Patching is not an ideal way to do this, especially when something like that is going on.”

Responding to a question about Todd Mission radios, Lilly attributed the large need to an active training program prompted by growth in the area.

VFD run money to be released In another agenda item,

In another agenda item, Lilly provided commissioners with the 2021 Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) Run Report. Noting that this is the first such report, Lilly said the report details the total number of runs performed by the county’s VFDs and how much they will be paid from the $35,000 run pool stipend.

The cost per run came out to $40.74 and commissioners approved moving forward with cutting the run checks for each of the VFDs.

Cellebrite software

Commissioners heard comments from Investigator John Wren regarding a future Cellebrite software subscription.

Wren said, “This software is the industry leader for doing cellphone downloads. Law enforcement agencies use it to be able to a take a cellphone that is obtained for evidence from a victim, a witness or suspect, either by consent or frequently by search warrant, and connect that phone to a computer. The computer downloads all the data and law enforcement can go through a complete copy of the data without having to mess with the phone and be able to return a victim’s phone to them.”

Wren cited rising budget costs resulting from the increased need for USBs, thumb drives and external hard drives, the cost of employee travel when outsourcing to other agencies and that Grimes County cases are not necessarily a priority to other agencies.

Wren said District Attorney Andria Bender can purchase the first year’s subscription with asset forfeiture funds but the concern was whether or not the County would consider paying for it going forward.

While acknowledging the court can’t dedicate future funds, County Judge Joe Fauth said, “I don’t know why we wouldn’t consider that cost in the future. I think this court would strongly consider funding that.”

Other court action:

•Approved Consent Agenda items which included the treasurer’s list of claims and bills, payroll, and budget amendments and/or line-item transfers.

•Recognized Kathy Wingard in JP Pct. 2 court for 35 years of service.

•Received a presentation about Candela Solar Farm from Ernst & Young LLP.

•Approved the addition of Full Coordinator Access to LGS for Judge David Moorman’s 12th District Court.

•Approved the migration of JP 1, JP 2 and JP 3 software to LGS.

•On a 4-0 vote with Pct. 4 Commissioner Phillip Cox abstaining, approved the contract with Kofile to scan and restore 65-75 old probate minutes books dating back to 1848.

• On a 4-0 vote with Pct. 4 Commissioner Phillip Cox abstaining, approved the contract with Kofile to complete scanning and restoration of the final 12 marriage license books from the late 1800s-1950s.

•After a public hearing with no comments against, approved the replat of King Oaks, Section 4, Block A, Lots 24 and 25.

•Approved a reduction in the road security bond for the Heyman Subdivision to the road maintenance bond level.

•Approved renewal of a Special Road Use and Indemnity Agreement with Blue Jay Solar.

•Approved Amendment No. 1 to the GLO Contract No. 19-076-033-B686.

•Approved casting 308 votes for Carol Garnet and 305 votes each for Sam Ruffino, Dianna Westmoreland, Kathleen Terrell and Chuck Frede to the Grimes Central Appraisal District board of directors.

•Discussed reallocation of funds received from housing out-of-county prisoners and placed on Dec. 1 agenda.

•Took no action on ARPA expenditures.

Burn Ban: The burn ban remains lifted.

Commissioners court may be viewed in its entirety at