The Harrison County road and bridge department plans to seek funding through TxDOT’s 2020 County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant program in an effort to repair roads that have been battered by heavy oil and gas traffic.

“We’re beginning to formulate a list of projects,” county road administrator, Luke Davis, told the court as he participated in Wednesday’s virtual meeting, via conference call.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the grant provides funding to eligible counties for transportation infrastructure projects in areas throughout the state affected by increased oil and gas production.

Counties are allowed to apply for the grant, starting April 27- May 27. The 86th Legislature has allocated $250 million for the 2020 program.

County Judge Chad Sims said he believes the county is eligible for about $860,000 of it. He said officials will begin on the paperwork while the road and bridge department start identifying roads that need attention.

Davis said the grant program is an ideal situation for taxpayers.

“We could really get out there and concentrate on some of these roads that oilfield companies beat up,” said Davis.

In other road and bridge news, the court approved the preliminary plat for the Robin’s Trail Subdivision, with lots facing Farm-to-Market Road 450 and Central School Road (County Road 3702) in Precinct 3.

“This was a preliminary plat and it was a request for a re-plat of the subdivision,” explained Davis. “The lots were realigned because of the construction of a pond on one of the low line areas. All of the requirements of the subdivision and re-plat have been met for this (phase) of the property.”

In other business, the court approved to award the solid waste disposal site operations bid to Get Rid of It America. The company was one of two that submitted proposals.

“We had two bids (that) were received timely and opened,” said Purchasing Agent Kendl Russell. “The first bid from Black Jack Disposal did not include the required proof of insurance as set forth in the bid specification packet. It is not compliant.”

She said the second bid, received from Get Rid of It America, did meet all requirements.

“In compliance with sealed competitive bid requirements and the approved bid specifications, I recommend this bid be awarded to Get Rid of It America,” Russell told the court. “I believe this is in the best interest of Harrison County, due to the past excellent record of performance and quality of work given to Harrison County.”

The bid is for one-year with a three-year renewable option.

The court also approved 2020 Title IV-E contracts. Judge Sims noted these are annual contracts the county has with the Department of Family and Protective Services.

“Through this contract, the county receives federal funds to increase the amount of legal staff and services available to process child welfare cases,” said Sims.

The court also approved proclamations, declaring April as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” and also as “Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month” in the county.

In other business, the court approved the declaration of local disaster and amendment by the county judge, in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“One week ago we had our first COVID-19 positive case, on that same date, I declared a local disaster of public health emergency that allowed us to do some additional things if we saw the virus spreading … so we did invoke a mandatory stay-at-home order,” said Sims, noting the mandatory order was implemented following the report of additional positive cases.

He said the term for his order was for two weeks. It is to coincide with Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandatory shelter-in-place order, which is in effect for the entire month.

As a matter of caution due to the global COVID -19 pandemic, the commissioners court carried on with its regular meeting Wednesday, closing it to the public, but streaming it live, for all to see.

“Today’s a new day for us here. We’re using a lot of technology,” Judge Sims said as he provided a live stream of the meeting to the public on his “Harrison County Judge” Facebook page.

Commissioners Zephaniah Timmins and Philip Mauldin joined in the meeting via Zoom videoconference. Sims along with Commissioners William Hatfield and Jay Ebarb were present in the commissioners courtroom. Several department heads joined in the Zoom conference call.

Judge Sims opened the meeting in prayer, acknowledging the difficult time the county, state and nation is facing in efforts to combat the novel virus. He offered a special prayer for those fighting the virus, for their quick healing and recovery.

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