By Lew Vail
GROVETON – There is always a public forum on the agenda prior to the actual meeting is called to order, and at Tuesday morning's meeting a resident, David Payne spoke about heavy dust stirred up by traffic near his house.
Payne explained he had moved from Onalaska to Groveton several years ago and continues to have health issues, and said his wife's lung problems are exacerbated by the dust. Payne said he wanted to report to commissioner's court that a researcher has a method to build roads by adding a chemical that can be sprayed along shoulders to lessen the amount of dust created as traffic flows by.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Neil Smith said he was familiar with the area, which is on a very heavily traveled section of roadway, and so a great deal of dust is created from the moving cars when they drive on, or too close to the unpaved section of the highway. County Judge Doug Page said that although commissioners are sympathetic to him and his wife's health issues, private roads and driveways cannot be worked on by county commissioners or their employees. Payne asked if it would be alright with commissioners if he wrote to his congressman about the issue. Along the same line, county attorney Joe Bell pointed out that many commissioners do get in trouble when they reach out too far in performance of their duties and work on private property.
The County auditor asked for more communications and planning prior to moving various offices around within the courthouse, one recent occasion a group was moved from one place to another and arrived there without any wireless communications available and electric not in proper places. County Judge Page said they hope that in the future it'll not only improve communications, but the planning will be shared on some of these moves making sure what capabilities need to be moved with them will alleviate the problem. Along those lines Sheriff's Department reported the warehouse storage space will be available beginning around March 1, commissioners who are doing the work indicated they had decided not to go with steel welding due to the lack of good ventilation in the building and instead would be constructing it have two of four studs and plywood walls which also would provide storage overhead once the project is complete.
Commissioners discussed a receipt file with listed the income from the mineral rights, the check for oil pumped through December; one half is to the county and the other half the goes to the school district for road repair maintenance and transportation. Commissioners approved the payroll for February 2. Commissioners has been time between meetings working on the new county officials and employees' handbook there was discussion about employee time accruals for work done on holidays. Primarily this is a problem with the police department in that they are a 24 hour seven day a week operation and so when working on a holiday they get into not only overtime but double-time. This question always comes up in the fall when Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays all require significant amounts of overtime. It becomes necessary to do a great deal of scheduling to have complete coverage of the county and those on compulsory time off who are accruing too many overtime hours.
The approval and adoption of the handbook has been on the agenda before, but it was tabled for review and legal action at the last meeting. Commissioners took one more executive session break, and discuss other factors in the book with the county attorney. Upon returning to open forum from executive session the board approved the handbook and a method of either electronically or physically signing a paper receipt, so that each employee acknowledges fact that he, or she, has been given one of the books. Commissioners then discussed replacing the floor in the County Clerk's office and commissioners have decided to accept the bid of Floors and More who will replace it with a hard tile rather than softer linoleum flooring, to provide better stability and weather the heavy file cabinets.
All four commissioners have joined a program to replace to restroom facilities for the Dixie Little League baseball fields at the "Y". Commissioner Worsham said they had a bit of more than $12,000 for restrooms alone, and he feels that if each commissioner will use some inmate crew labor they can construct a little better building modifying what they are now and install all the plumbing fixtures for under $10,000 total. The motion was made for county commissioners to authorize up to $10,000 to repair the sewer system at the baseball fields.
There were several items on the agenda regarding prohibiting outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of the county. At the meeting commissioners expressed the notion that there is not a sufficient enough emergency need to cease all outdoor burning, and it would be better place informative ads in newspapers and inside county buildings regarding the need to burn under ideal conditions.