Commissioners, Teen Court hammer out agreement
Vote to be held Jan. 22
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Jan. 11, 2007 - Hopkins County officials and Teen Court representatives Wednesday hammered out a contract for use of the district and commissioner courtrooms at Hopkins County Courthouse.

The final decision to let Teen Court use the courthouse for its monthly meeting will be made by Hopkins County Commissioners Court during the Jan. 22 meeting.

Wednesday morning, Teen Court Coordinator Jana Jenkins, board members June Lucky and Rhonda Neal, Sheriff Butch Adams, Texas Ranger Phillip Kemp, Courthouse Security Officer John Hipkins and County Judge Cletis Millsap sat down in a work session to determine what should be required in order for Teen Court to be permitted to use the courthouse facilities.

"We discussed nine items which will be included on a contract between Hopkins County Commissioners Court and Teen Court of Hopkins County Inc." Millsap said.

Teen Court will be required to designated an alternate location as a backup for the monthly hearing in case a court session runs longer than anticipated and requires use of the facility during the evening hours on the day Teen Court is designated to use the courtroom. Teen Court officials will be working over the next week to try to secure an alternate site, Littlefield said Wednesday.

The agreement calls for absolutely no food or drink at the courthouse, four to five security personnel, making sure the facilities are ready for business the next morning, badges for all involved in the program, parents to attend with juvenile defendants, and for each person involved — from the board to the teen volunteers down to the juvenile defendants — to sign an agreement to obey the terms of the contract. Dempsey Bullock, Teen Court judge, and Clay Johnson, assistant judge, will be required to be at each meeting also, Millsap said.

Teen Court is to work with 8th Judicial District Court Coordinator Cheryl Fulcher for the courth schedule and to work with the judges who use the courtrooms for scheduling. Teen Court is to be notified one week in advance, when possible, if an alternate location will be needed, Millsap said.

The court sessions have tentatively been set for Feb. 20, March 20, April 17, May 14 and June 19.

Littlefield said in addition to Hipkins, Ranger Kemp will also be serving each month to meet the security personnel requirements. Sheriff Butch Adams had agreed to be at the meetings, and the sheriff also volunteered the use of reserve deputies for additional security as needed. Board members and parent volunteers will also help with security, covering all of the contract's security requirements.

"We will be required to pay for the courthouse security officer, Hipkins, presence, so if there are any sponsors out there that want to help offset the cost, it would be appreciated," Littlefield said.

Without sponsorship, Teen Court will have to use some of the program's already limited funding to pay the cost for the courthouse security officer's fee, which Teen Court is to coordinate with the county auditor's office to determine hourly rate. That means less funding to reward student volunteers at the end of the year with small scholarships, Teen Court Coordinator Jana Jenkins and Littlefield explained.

Those interested in helping offset the security costs should contact Jana Jenkins at 903-885-8041, extension 240.

Teen Court participants will also be required to "make sure its in the same condition it is in when we come in that day, and make sure it's ready the next day," Littlefield said.

Each student participant, whether a volunteer, court official or defendant, will be issued a name badge for the session. The badge in addition to the student's name will also designate their function, (ex. defendant, student attorney, etc ...)

County officials are also "if any other facilities become available ... to consider us when making plans," Littlefield said of any future expansion of county facilities.

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