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Home News-Telegram News County officials balk at applying for grant because of wording

County officials balk at applying for grant because of wording

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Two Hopkins County Commissioners today opposed applying for a grant of almost $350,000 to repair road damage caused by storms in the spring of 2008, questioning why the grant was for “Hopkins County” when the money would only be used in Precinct 2.

The resolution calling for the grant application ultimately passed, but not without dissension.

Tim Glendening of Tim Glendening and Associates, an Irving-based planning management consulting firm, presented the grant proposal that seeks funding from the state’s Office of Rural and Community Affairs. The grant request, totaling $349,971, would cover road, drainage and other repairs from damage caused by a storm in the spring of 2008.

County Judge Cletis Millsap said the storm caused some damage in Precinct 3 and Precinct 1, but the vast majority came south of Pickton. The county issued a disaster declaration in conjunction with Wood County and others hit by the storm and is now seeking help in making repairs.

Those counties are also applying for grants, but Precinct 2 was where the storm hit hardest, Millsap said.

“We were the center of the debris damage,” he said.

Glendening said if the grant is approved the county would  have two years to complete the work, which would be entirely paid for by the grant — no matching funds or in-kind contributions are required.

When it came time to vote on the resolution to apply for the funding, however, two commissioners voiced opposition to the grant application. Both Precinct 3 Commissioner Don Patterson and Precinct 1 Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker disagreed with the wording in the proposal that identified the grant as paying for a Hopkins County disaster.

“All this money is going to Precinct 2,” Patterson said. “The resolution just says ‘county.’ ... If for some unknown reason the government calls this money back, then the county [has to pay it].”

Glendening pointed out that it will be his responsibility to make sure the terms of the agreement are properly, something he has been doing for 26 years.

“We’ve never had an incident where a singular county we’ve worked with has had to repay funds,” he said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker voted against the resolution for essentially the same reason, saying the resolution referred to a “county-wide disaster” but the funding only applies to repairs in Precinct 2.

“I can’t sign something that says ‘county-wide,’” Wisenbaker said. “I don’t understand why the resolution can’t say a severe storm existed  in County Precinct 2 ... and let Precinct 2 be responsible for the application.”

Hopkins County Auditor Suzanne Bauer, however, pointed out that Precinct 2 cannot stand alone as a governmental entity, and that the application is technically coming from Hopkins County.

The resolution ultimately passed, with Precinct 2 Commissioner Burke Bullock and Precinct 4 Commissioner Danny Evans voting for approval and Patterson and Wisenbaker opposing. Millsap, who doesn’t always vote on issues, did cast a vote in th is case to support the funding request, providing majority approval.

In other business, the county will receive $2,500 from a support group of the Texas Historical Commission for repairs to the courthouse.

Some work was to begin today. Millsap said the doors on the north entrance to the building would be removed today, and the entrance boarded up until repairs to the doors can be completed.

He said people will have to use the north side entrance of the county courthouse until the wooden doors, which are weathered from exposure to the setting sun, can be refurbished and put back up.

The Commissioners Court also approved an agreement with other local governments to provide mutual aid in emergencies that would otherwise tax the available resources. The mutual aid agreement is being approved by Sulphur Springs, Hopkins County, and Tira, Cumby and Como, Millsap said.

 

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