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Fannin County experiencing record number of illegal septic system installations
By Allen Rich
Jul 22, 2020
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Fannin County, Texas -- Fannin County Commissioners Court held a regular meeting Tuesday, July 21, 2020. Commissioners Gary Whitlock, A.J. Self and Jerry Magness were present, along with Fannin County Judge Randy Moore, although Commissioner Whitlock left when notified that one of his crew was involved in an accident. Commissioner Dean Lackey participated via Zoom.

The meeting opened with an invocation by Rev. Randy Wayne Dority of First Christian Church in Honey Grove and pledges were led by Maj. James Manis (Ret.)

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Beth Purcell, an aide to the Office of Texas Senator Bob Hall was in attendance.

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Four people addressed Fannin County Commissioners Court in public forum.

A resident who lives on County Road 2975 asked if an analysis was available that detailed the cost per mile of different methods of road repair.

The second resident thanked all the part-time clerks for work during elections.

The third resident touted coronavirus tracker data available on cell phones.

A representative of Pattern Energy thanked Fannin County Commissioners Court and Pct. 4 Commissioner Dean Lackey in particular for cooperation as the company begins construction of a solar farm.

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Commissioners voted to extend by one week the Fannin County Declaration of Disaster Proclamation for Covid-19 and Covid-19 Response and Continuity of Operations Plan for Fannin County.

Fannin County has been notified of a total of 165 cases during the pandemic and the county currently has 25 active cases.

Judge Randy Moore asked county residents to look beyond the divisive nature of masks.

"All I ask is try to look at both sides," Judge Moore stated, adding that a June 12 study out of Texas A&M found that "no question masks work." Forbes Magazine also recently published an article that came to the same conclusion. 

Moore said that if there is not a concrete opinion, it is imperative to follow the guidance of Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Fannin County Commissioners Court will continue holding meetings in-person and via teleconference.

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Commissioners approved the Treasurerís Financial Report for June 2020, as well as the Treasurerís Investment Report for June 2020. Fannin County Treasurer David Woodson informed commissioners court that the revenue for June was $871,200.25.

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Amanda Watkins, Fannin County Environmental Development Director, provided Fannin County Commissioners Court with an update regarding recent activity in the Environmental Development Department.

"Our office has issued 145 Notices of Violations in June; 74 of these violations have been resolved and the owners are now in compliance," Ms. Watkins reported. "We have received a total of four complaints for septic issues, and one reported issue for trash. There were several complaints about trash that were not investigated due to lack of information.

"During June, our office processed 25 aerobic applications and one conventional. Additionally, our office inspected 14 installations."

Watkins told commissioners that her office has experienced a record number of illegal installations during the past 8-10 weeks, with landowners typically responding that they were not aware of legal requirements.

"We have 19 current complaints filed with JP 2 and we are waiting for a hearing to be rescheduled," Watkins stated. "We have approximately five more cases to file this week, with more to come.

"We would like to take a moment to remind our citizens that it is illegal to install anything that is not approved by TCEQ as a septic system. The state of Texas requires you to have license and permit to install a septic system. If you are experiencing issues, we highly recommend you contact a licensed installer to address the situation.

"It is also illegal to dump refuse/trash anywhere that is not an acceptable receptacle, dumpster or registered dump site.
We want to encourage those in Fannin County to report all illegal dumping to our office. We can be reached at 903-583-7495 or at environmentaldevelopment@fanninco.net."

"I think you are doing a great job," Commissioner Jerry Magness told Ms. Watklins

"We appreciate what you are doing," stated Judge Moore. "We have two new lakes coming to this county, so it is important how we treat our land."

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Commissioners approved a 30-day contract with BBC Consulting for additional Information Technology assistance.

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Commissioners passed on an agenda item calling for payment of $500 to Cooper-Sorrells Funeral Home for an indigent burial.

"That situation, I believe, is being resolved," Judge Moore noted.

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Next week, commissioners court will readdress an agenda item regarding reassigning easement along a portion of County Road 3115.

A representative of Pattern Energy thanked the county for being a good partner as the company begins construction on a solar farm.

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Commissioners approved a one-time severance of 2 acres out of a 35.36-acre tract on County Road 1216 in Savoy.

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Commissioners approved an order allowing the voter-approval tax rate to be calculated up to 8% in the manner provided for a special taxing unit.

Senate Bill 2 had a provision that called for a reduction in the tax rate in counties experiencing revenue growth of 3.5% or greater, however that provision is no longer valid due to an ongoing national, state and local emergency.

This order allows the county to raise 8% more revenue than last year without triggering a rollback election.

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Commissioners court discussed personnel or supplies for Covid-19 from the CARES Act Grant or other funding.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court awarded the bids for rock and gravel for the county.

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Commissioners approved the lease of a Wirtgen WR200XLI Soil Stabilizer/Recycler for $16,036.26 per month for Precinct 3 (extending and transferring the lease from Pct. 4 to Pct. 3)

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Commissioners approved the payment of bills.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court voted to exempt the procurement of EMS [Emergency Medical Services] from the RFP [Request for Proposal] process and to disregard/reject all the bids received from said RFP.

After Fannin County initiated the RFP process, an opinion from the Texas attorney general was found that stated that if an RFP impacts public health and safety of residents, it can be exempted from the mandatory process. 

The county received eight bids to supply EMS, "all pretty good bids" according to Judge Moore. In the near future, the county EMS committee will be meeting with the top five bidders.

The decision regarding the county's EMS provider must be made prior to October 1, 2020.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court recessed at 10:12 a.m.  for two executive sessions -- the first executive session was for personnel matters and the second one was for contract negotiations.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court reconvened in open session at 10:40 a.m.

No action was taken regarding personnel.

"We are going to be discussing specifics of EMS contracts next Monday at a special meeting," Judge Moore remarked. 

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In the segment of the meeting reserved for comments by commissioners and the county judge, Pct. 2 Commissioner A.J. Self thanked everyone for attending and he expressed concern for Pct. 1 personnel involved in an accident Tuesday morning.

Pct. 3 Commissioner Jerry Magness said his crew is currently working on county roads with signs out to advise the traveling public to slow down and use caution.

"I'd like to ask the public to give us plenty of space," Commissioner Magness requested.

Pct. 4 Commissioner Dean Lackey asked resident to be safe during the pandemic and to drink plenty of fluids and don't get too hot this summer. 

Fannin County Judge Randy Moore congratulated Edwina Lane and Jimmy Helms for their primary run-off election victories.

Judge Moore explained that the county is conducting a new mental health assessment, particularly regarding mental health and prisons.

The county judge said efforts are being made to get election equipment in the county budget for next year.

"We're doing the best we can with what we have," he commented.

Judge Moore said he expects to present a proposed county budget in the next regular meeting of Fannin County Commissioners Court.