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Fannin County Commissioners Court addresses rumor mill
By Allen Rich
Feb 15, 2024
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Fannin County, Texas -- All five members of Fannin County Commissioners Court were present for a regular meeting held Tuesday, February 14, 2024. The meeting opened with an invocation by Dave Bradley, pastor of First Baptist Church Whitewright, and pledges were led by Sgt. Darin Cook of Bonham VFW Post 4852.

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In public forum, Jay Minton said he recently unloaded cardboard at the Pct. 4 shed and understands that the county's four commissioners have much more to do than process cardboard.

"I'm a long-term recycler," Minton explained, adding that he recycles a ton of glass, plastic and cardboard every year.

He suggested hiring an external contractor for a couple of days each month to process cardboard.

Fannin County Judge Newt Cunningham addressed the ever-present local rumor mill.

"When questions are asked, I like to answer them," Judge Cunningham began.

Cunningham said one rumor is that the county is offering $1.5 million to develop Hwy. 121 South.

The actual situation is that the county may decide to contribute 1% of the total estimated cost to engineer and complete Hwy 121 From the Collin County line to its intersection with Hwy 56 in Bonham.

Cunningham acknowledged that this incentive would not guarantee that TxDOT would put this project on the front burner, but he questioned why residents would balk at pitching in 1% when the state would contribute 100 times more, particularly now that Hwy. 121 is already jammed with traffic during rush hours.

"It's dangerous now," Cunningham remarked. "People will be dying this year on Hwy. 121."

Other popular rumors include regulations for sexually oriented businesses, wind turbines and landfills.

So, why did the county put in regulations for sexually oriented businesses?

The only legal course of action available to the county was to have regulations in place to restrict where that type of business could be located in order to make certain that sexually oriented businesses could not be located near schools and churches.

Cunningham said he would prefer to have all the wind turbines out in West Texas where transmission infrastructure is already in place.

"I don't want windmills or landfills in Fannin County," the county judge stated. "This commissioners court will do everything possible to make sure we have quality development in Fannin County."

County resident Chris Wilson said Fannin County is under siege daily by developers who want the county's resources and he is tired of same old question: "Why can't Fannin County Commissioners Court stop it?"

Wilson urged rumor mongers to have the courage to stand up in commissioners court and get "actual, reasonable answers."

Wilson said that experience has taught him that officials at the state level don't care.

"Take the time to educate yourself or stay out of the argument," Wilson stated.

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Routine items

Commissioners court approved payment of bills totaling $741,423.76.

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Report of monies collected by the County Clerk’s office for January 2024; all courts combined, $16,598.01 and Land Records, $29,785.00.

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Report of monies received by the District Clerk’s office for January 2024; $14,833.21.

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Discussion, Consideration and action items

Fannin County Commissioners Court approved a county policy to work with precinct employees to acquire a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Judge Cunningham has developed a promissory note the employee would sign that required the employee to repay the county the entire $2,500 course fee if they separate from the county in less than 12 months.

If the employee separates from the county in 12-24 months, they would be required to repay $1,150.

If the employee separates from the county in 24-36 months, they would repay the county $750.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court approved an independent contractor services contract for culvert removal and replacement on CR 3335 in Precinct 4 at an estimated cost of $8,000-$12,000.

The county installed a $15,000 culvert, but didn't have the proper equipment and now it needs to be reinstalled.

"The contract, as written, is less than optimal," remarked Paul Ivey, a local attorney, noting that stipulations should be included that would require independent contractors to repair subsequent issues with the culvert should any arise.

"I don't think this contract needs a lot of specifications," countered Judge Cunningham.

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Commissioners court voted to deny the one bid that was returned for a precinct 2 pickup truck.

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Commissioners court passed on an agenda item regarding bids for district court security services.

"Let's do a little background checking," Cunningham suggested.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court passed on an agenda item regarding going out for bids for Fannin County roadway construction.

The court discussed setting up work groups to focus on this one issue and provide feedback.

Pct. 1 Commissioner Dale McQueen asked how the county would manage to pay independent contractors, as well as pay costs associated with expanding right-of-way.

"People need to know how much of their taxes go to the roads," noted Pct. 3 Commissioner Jerry Magness.

Commissioners are quick to point out that school taxes are higher than all county taxes combined and only a relatively small portion of county tax revenue is dedicated to roads and bridges, with the remainder going for law enforcement, EMS, etc.

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Commissioners court authorized the sheriff’s office to sell weapons through Rene Bates Auctioneers.

The sheriff's office recently purchased new firearms and needs to sell 29 used firearms.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court approved and adopted the Fannin County Fraud, Waste and Abuse Policy.

Fannin County Auditor Alicia Whipple explained that  the Texas Attorney General sent out language for county policies and Judge Cunningham tweaked the policy

Cunningham asked the public to read the policy and comment.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court approved the 2024 Failure to Appear Interlocal Cooperation Contract with Texas Department of Public Safety.

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Open discussion items

(Open discussion items will be passed on unless discussion requested by a member of the Court or a Citizen.)

Cunningham said he is working on a draft that will transfer management of Multipurpose Complex to the city, which could eventually free up real estate surrounding the complex which can be liquidated to help improve roads and to cover any potential shortfall at the justice center.

The county hopes to have the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT tax) in place in time to benefit from the influx of visitors coming to witness the solar eclipse April 8.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court entered into executive session at 10:12 a.m. to consult with their attorney, and to discuss personnel issues.

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No action was taken in executive session.