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Commissioners conduct county business, review abatement criteria, hire new OEM coordinator

At its regularly-scheduled meeting, the Wharton County Commissioner Court approved many budget items, as well as hired a new Office of Emergency Management Coordinator. Here’s your commissioners court recap:

1. Back on Nov. 22, Commissioners approved to join the State of Texas Opioid Settlement with Johnson and Johnson. This allowed Wharton County to receive funds from the settlement.

On Dec. 13, Commissioners approved Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath to sign required forms that would make Wharton County officially a part of the state settlement.


2. The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) has made funds available for rural county entities to cover expenses relating to preventing, preparing for and responding to the coronavirus. An eligible county may choose to request reimbursement on behalf of of local governments which fall under the county’s jurisdiction.

The City of Wharton requested the county apply for the designated and available money on behalf of the city to cover expenses of overtime for their EMS department. The court approved to apply for the full amount of $29,517.84 for the city.

3. The court approved the final step in its redistricting process by establishing precinct voting lines that coincide with the previously adopted district boundary map. The cost incurred to the county for the redistricting process totaled approximately $15,000.


4. The State of Texas Legislature requires that county tax abatement guidelines and criteria expire every two years. The court officially approved the new guidelines, which did not change from the previous year.

5. Commissioners approved to award an alternate bid for oil-based road materials, MC-30, to Valero Asphalt Terminal. The primary bid was awarded to Martin Asphalt Company in November. This alternate bid allows the county to purchase materials from Valero if the materials are not available through Martin.

6. Precinct 2 Commissioner Bud Graves requested the court roll the remaining funds from the Kinder Morgan road damage settlement to his 2022 budget. The court previously approved a settlement agreement in April in the amount of $50,000 to pay for road damages incurred by the company’s pipeline project. The court approved Graves’ request.


7. Like the previous item, commissioners approved to rollover $75,000 in settlement funds to the 2022 precinct 2 operating budget. This settlement was with M2E3 Inc for damages to incurred to county roads during its pipeline project.

8. The court awarded a bid to Cutright and Prihoda Inc. out of La Grange for architectural services in the design of a pre-engineered metal building to protect equipment used at the transfer station in East Bernard. The county will used a combination of funds from each precinct’s building line items in the amount of $120,000 and a grant through H-GAC in the amount of $100,000 for this project.

9. Commissioners approved a preliminary plat for the Leonard Phillips Subdivision located on CR 243. The plat would be divided into two – 1.07 acre plats.

10. Commissioners moved $8,000 from the court’s optimal service contingency fund to Pct. 2 Special Road and Road & Bridge Fund – Solid Waste Station to cover unexpected costs to get rid of tires and additional solid waste in the 2021 year.

11. The county approved a $160,000 cash deposit from Danish Fields Solar Farm for road use and any damages that could occur during the construction of the solar farm. The farm is located with precinct 3.

12. The court unanimously approved appointing Chief Deputy Russell McDougall as the Wharton County Emergency Coordinator effective March 1, 2022. McDougall will replace coordinator Andy Kirkland upon his retirement. McDougall will continue to serve as a volunteer reserve peace officer for the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office.

13. Wharton County Sheriff Shannon Srubar requested the ratification of a maximum price guarantee amendment between BLS Construction Inc. for the WCSO Training & Emergency Operation Center. The court approved on the maximum price of $538,694.75 be locked in for 30 days.

14. & 15. The Wharton County Library – Wharton Branch received a donation from the Friends of the Library foundation in the amount of $8,525. Approved by the court, this donation would be combined with funds from the library’s budget to purchase a server for the branch. The total cost would be $9,525.

16. Commissioners approved to adhere to the same schedule of the 2nd and 4th Monday at 9:30 a.m. for its 2022 court.

17. County Treasurer Donna Thornton requested a cutoff date of February 18, 2022 to be set for county departments to submit 2021 account payables.

18. – 34. (Consent Agenda Items) were all approved. These items included payroll, permit and invoice ratification, as well as assignments and resignations to county boards and commissions.

The court adjourned after the Wharton County Extension Service annual year end luncheon.

The Wharton County Commissioners Court will meet once more this year at its regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, Dec, 27, 2021.

For meeting agendas and minutes, visit the county’s website.

Jessica Hartmanhttps://www.thecountygin.com
Jessica Hartman is the publisher of The County Gin and a realistic dreamer with creative expression. She can be reached at jessica@thecountygin.com or (979) 533-0122, but careful — she's a talker.

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