Commissioners pleased that jail renovation is complete
Finally, Johnson County commissioners Monday found something to laugh about regarding the completion of the renovation at the jail.
It certainly wasn’t funny when the initial cost of $4.5 million increased to $7.8 million, especially after commissioners set aside $5 million for the project.
As architect Kenny Burns and Jeremy Smith, project manager for SEDALCO, the construction company, were giving their report on the jail’s completion, Burns said the Texas Commission on Jail Standards issued a letter Feb. 20 approving the project.
A certificate of completion to be signed by commissioners will be on the agenda for the March 12 court meeting, Smith said.
“That letter will start the warranty clock ticking,” he said.
“Put that off as long as you can,” joked Precinct 1 Commissioner Rick Bailey as his court colleagues and audience members laughed. “Why don’t you come back in December.”
Smith elicited more smiles when he reported a cost savings of $550,000, “maybe even more,” he said.
“I think you’ve done an excellent job,” County Judge Roger Harmon said.
In the new business portion of the agenda, commissioners approved a new travel policy for county employees that discourages requesting an advancement for per diem expenses such as meals and gasoline.
“An advancement is still allowable, because we don’t want to create a hardship for our people,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Larry Woolley said.
Also under new business, commissioners granted an exemption of the Local Government Code from the bidding requirements for services so that Oncology Hematology Consultants (dba The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorder) can treat an inmate at the county jail who has cancer.
Commissioners became awkwardly silent on the matter of considering Harmon’s appointment of Robert Shaw to the Johnson County Child Welfare Board.
“Is it appropriate to appoint someone who is running for office?” asked Precinct 3 Commissioner Jerry Stringer.
Shaw is a candidate for the Precinct 2 office of Justice of the Peace and is running against incumbent Johnny Bekkelund, who is seeking re-election.
When no commissioner supported the item, Harmon decided he would.
“This is a good cause,” the judge said. “There’s no politics. I’ll make the motion.”
More uncomfortable silence followed until Bailey said he would second the motion, which passed.
In the preceding business portion of the agenda, commissioners approved a variance for two septic systems on less than two acres at 3332 CR 1224 in Precinct 1, and a variance for two structures on one septic system at 5400 CR 805 in Precinct 4.
The court also approved renewal of a contract for lawn maintenance with Lawn Tech, Inc., for one year.
Harmon announced that the court meeting of May 14 has been rescheduled for Friday, May 11.
Readers can watch court proceeding online at www.johnsoncountytx.org. Navigate the tool bar to Commissioners Court and click on “Meeting Video.”
The next regularly scheduled meeting of commissioners court will be 9 a.m. Monday, March 12, in Room 201 of the Johnson County Courthouse in Cleburne.