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Fannin County Commissioners Court gets briefed on litigation regarding restoration of the Fannin County Courthouse
By Allen Rich
Jun 19, 2024
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Fannin County, Texas -- All five members of Fannin County Commissioners Court were present for a regular meeting on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. The meeting opened with an invocation by Mark Posey, pastor of First Congregational Church in Bonham, and pledges were led by veteran and Pct. 3 Commissioner Jerry Magness.

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In public forum, Paul Ivy thanked Pct. 2 Commissioner A.J. Self for grading his road.

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Routine items

 Fannin County Commissioners Court approved payment of bills totaling $86,426.53.

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Commissioners court approved minutes from a regular meeting held December 14, 2021.

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Commissioners court approved Auditor Monthly Reports for May 2024.

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Commissioners court approved the Treasurerís Financial Report for May 2024, as well as the Treasurerís Investment report for May 2024.

Fannin County Treasurer David Woodson thanked Pct. 1 Commissioner Dale McQueen for tweaking the investment report.

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Discussion items

Commissioners court received a report from Fannin County Criminal District Attorney Richard Glaser on the progress of witness interviews, investigation, and litigation preparation relating to the Fannin County Courthouse.

Mr. Glaser told about the 25-year journey to restore the 1888 courthouse and detailed some of the problems that plagued the project.

Texas Historical Commission guaranteed $6 million, but insisted the courthouse be totally restored.

"At first we thought it would cost $11 million, but it turned out to cost a whole lot more than that and it raises questions," Glaser told the court.

Problems that need to be addressed include no-risk contracts, piecemeal contracts, an inability to meet benchmarks in a timely manner, and why a performance bond didn't protect taxpayers from excessive overruns.

Glaser said he is in the process of issuing two subpoenas, one to a former county commissioner and one to an accountant associated with a former county judge.

"We will be talking to Spanky Carter and Dean Lackey," Glaser stated.

Serious questions remain about why, in spite of objections, Bryco was selected to do the masonry work.

According the Glaser, Bryco's original bid of $2 million seemed unrealistic. The company eventually increased its bid to $4 million, which was no longer the lowest bid, but was then allowed to rebid in order to get under the other bid.

And why did ArchiTexas sign off on masonry work when the masonry work hadn't been completed?

The county filed a 202 deposition with Turner Construction who had the no-risk contract, and ArchiTexas architects David Chase and Anne Stimmel.

Glaser gave commissioners court a list of 16 questions that will be addressed in litigation.

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Discussion, consideration and action items

Fannin County Commissioners Court discussed the county's next EMS contract. Three ambulance services bid on the contract and the ad hoc committee recommended Allegiance Mobile Health, a well-established company that submitted an annual bid of $780,000.

Bonham EMS has been providing this service since July 13, 2002; this year's cost is $806,000 and the county was concerned that it would have to pay even more next year.

Allegiance will place three ambulances where they are needed most in the county and has the ability to add another ambulance at no extra cost. The company will have six operators per ambulance and be responsible for housing its crews.

The contract with Allegiance will go into effect October 1, 2024.

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Commissioners court discussed Engineering Services interviews and voted to retain the services of Hayter Engineering and Dal-Tech Engineering.

Pass-through fees will be paid by developers.

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Commissioners court approved renewal of Safe Fleet for Sheriff and Constable offices through February 28, 2025 for $2,103.45; technical support for body and vehicle camera systems.

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Commissioners court passed on an agenda item regarding a possible alternative sewer option for Belle Vie Phase I in Honey Grove while the development waits on the final TCEQ permit to be approved.

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Commissioners court followed the recommendation of Di Hopkins, Development Services Director for Fannin County, and approved Final Plat for Five Points Subdivision, as well as Harbor at Five Points Subdivision, which is across the road.

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Commissioners court selected timeline options for the justice center, and selected Option 2, which pushes back construction back three weeks, but will give a combined price for civil and building.

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Commissioners court accepted the Auditorís 2024 Investment Training per Public Funds Investment Act ß2256.008 and the Fannin County Investment Policy.

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In a discussion regarding Windom Building repairs, the court was informed that insurance will cover damaged documents but not the leaky roof.

If the county doesn't repair the roof, the insurance company will not cover any additional issues because of water damage.

"It is leaking in multiple spots right now," explained Fannin County Auditor Alicia Whipple.

Commissioners court voted to get estimates to repair the roof and replace an air conditioning unit.

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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.

Regarding Fannin County road issues, the court discussed the damage caused by heavy truck traffic in precinct 1.

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Regarding solar and wind farms, the court was advised that a suit is moving forward based on unreasonable economic damage to neighboring property. 

Executive session(s) if needed

Fannin County Commissioners Court entered into executive session at 10:05 a.m. to discuss personnel issues.

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No action was taken in executive session.