Jul

21

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 21, 2017

Worked up/FM 3486
Kaufman and TxDot officials celebrate the completion of FM 3486.

Special to The Monitor
KAUFMAN COUNTY–Kaufman County and local officials, along with TxDOT officials celebrated the completion of FM 3486 with a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday.
Judge Bruce Wood said, “Kaufman County continues to grow. And as it does, that puts more stress on our roadway systems. Through our work implementing the 2013 road bond program, we have forged lasting partnerships with TxDOT and our cities. Today’s activities celebrate just one of the types of projects that can be accomplished when we work with our partners.”
The project was initially a county road (formerly known as CR 322) and transferred into the TxDOT Farm-to-Market program in 1987. Funding for the project was awarded last July from Proposition 1 funds, covering the $4.9 million cost. Proposition 1 is a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014 authorizing a portion of oil and gas revenue to be dedicated to the state highway fund. Kaufman County donated approximately $2 million to acquire the right-of-way in advance of construction.
The project provides an alternative paved route for motorists traveling between FM 986 and SH 34 as well as improved access to Terrell High School which is located on FM 986 at the northern end of the city.
“Our job at TxDOT is to continue to provide mobility, connectivity and safety to the travelling public. We are able to do more with our resources when we have partners at the local levels. Kaufman is one of TxDOT’s best partners in our efforts to improve our state facilities,” Kaufman County Area Engineer Jeff Bush said.
Commissioner Terry Barber, whose precinct is where FM 3486 is located, made brief comments during the ceremony. “Good roads not only improve our economic standing, but it also improves our quality of life. As a road commissioner, I know first-hand how important safe roads are to our citizens.”

Jul

14

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 14, 2017

Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood (left) congratualtes Veterans Service Officer Robert Hunter for successful completion of his basic certification in Veteran’s Benefits. The certification gets the county one step closer to accreditation.

By Denise York
Monitor Staff Writer
KAUFMAN–Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood announced July 10 in a regular meeting of the Kaufman County Commissioner’s Court that he will not seek re-election as Kaufman County Judge during the 2018 election cycle. Wood’s second term will end Dec. 31, 2018.
In a press release given to The Monitor, Wood said, “I would like to thank the people of Kaufman County for the high honor and great privilege they have given me to serve as their county judge which began Jan. 1, 2011. It has been a challenging job and rewarding in many ways, but the support of countless individuals has allowed Kaufman County to move forward with several joint efforts that produced many vital projects that have improved the quality of life in our county.”
Wood acknowledged the many challenges ahead as the county grows and pledged full engagement until the last day of his term. He praised the quality of leadership and the hard-working, dedicated employees of the county.
Commissioners approved a contract with the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake for Animal Shelter Services. The new contract includes a reduction of the monthly charge from $9,300 per month last year to $8,267 beginning Aug 1. The agreement is for nine months and renewable month-to-month after that as the county moves forward with plans to build its own facility.
During a budget workshop later that day, commissioners agreed to use a portion of the $250,000 set aside for the animal shelter to clear a portion at the Poor Farm/ former county jail, a site pegged for the county animal shelter. This proposition is opposed by members of the Kaufman County Historical Commission. Probationers have been clearing brush and debris between the open area and the pond and bids will be sought to clear the rest, using some of the $250K, Wood said. Clearing the area will not affect any historical sites, Wood added.
The court recognized Veterans Service Officer Robert Hunter with a certificate as he completed his Basic Training Course in Veteran’s Benefits. As Hunter presented his quarterly report to the court, he said “This will get us one step closer to accreditation. I have courses scheduled next month and I hope with that to be fully accredited by the end of this fiscal year.”
Hunter told the court that his current status is “pending accreditation.” Currently, his office is seeing a 37 percent increase in claims coming in with more in-person visits. “They are beginning to know we are here and here to help them,” Hunter said of the Veterans.
Wood also recognized Kaufman County Commissioner Pct. 2 Skeet Phillips as having completed his continuing education.
In other business, the commissioners:
• approved an additional services authorization for the FM 548 Project between Kaufman County and Pacheco Koch in the amount of $786,780.50. The additional services were beyond the scope of work originally agreed to in November 2015
• approved lease/ purchase of three 2018 Kenworth T880 Dump Trucks for Pct. 1 Road and Bridge at $126,059.04 each from MCH Kenworth.
• approved lease/purchase of a 2017 John Deere 65E Motor Grader for Pct. 1 Road and Bridge at $180,000.
• heard and accepted monthly reports from Kaufman County Sheriff Bryans Beavers and Fire Marshal Randy Richards
• paid bills in the amount of $1,433,584.35 of which approximately $500,000 was for employee insurance as presented by Auditor Karen McLeod

Jul

05

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 5, 2017

Monitor Staff Reports
KAUFMAN–Kaufman County Commissioners have yet to decide if the new animal shelter will be located on the property of the old county poor farm after court last week.
Commissioners made the lease the county held with the County Historical Commission void after it was discovered it was invalid.
County Judge Bruce Wood did give a brief update on the animal shelter plans and stressed that a location for the shelter has not yet been determined.
After months of searching for a site, a proposal was made to place the shelter on the corner of the poor farm property nearest to the entrance gate of the adjacent county fairgrounds.
The historical commission, whose members are appointed by county commissioners, has met twice since the proposed location of the shelter was suggested.
At Friday’s meeting commission members agreed to bring a list of questions concerning the proposal Monday. But those questions were not brought up.
County Treasurer Ronnie Oldfield, who also serves as the commission treasurer, addressed commissioners under the topic “Discuss the role of the Kaufman County Historical Commission within county government.”
He said there has “probably not been adequate coordination with the court in a formal sense” concerning the ongoing work at the poor farm.
The farm is the last one existing in Texas still owned by a county and one of the few – if not the only one – in the nation.
The commission has been working to clear areas of the farm which have become overgrown as well as working on plans to begin restoration of the buildings, Oldfield said.
The farm is on land behind the county south campus and the Kaufman County Veterans Memorial.
Oldfield said the commission met with an architect last week about plans to restore the superintendent’s house.
“I think the court can see that this historical commission is moving in the direction that the taxpayers of Kaufman County want,” he said.
The architects gave the Nash Farm in Grapevine, which is a tourist destination, as an example of what the poor farm could become.
“This site is an endangered site,” Oldfield said. “It has strong feelings for the historical commission that is highly emotionally invested in the preservation of the poor farm.”
He said the most important part of the meeting with the architect was the goal of having the farm placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which could open up federal funds to assist in the restoration.
Before commissioners voted to void the lease, former commissioner Jimmy Joe Vrzalik said he had strong feelings about the poor far and didn’t want to see any more of the property decimated. He said the farm can be a great asset to the county and doesn’t want to see a dog pound located there.
According to a memo from the county’s legal advisors, the lease between commissioners and the historical commission is not valid because the commission is a part of county government. In effect, the lease was between the county and itself.
Such a lease would have to be with a non-profit organization or private individual.
In its meeting last week, Commission President Buzz Fanion reassured members that the commission’s role in preserving the poor farm would not change when the lease was voided, according to what he has been told.
Wood said Monday that commissioners will be discussing the shelter before any decision is made to begin construction.
He stressed that efforts to clean up the site need to continue.
“We don’t need to be arguing about something that can be a win-win for the county,” he said.
Commissioners want to assist in the process of preserving the farm, he said.
Wood said the county spends a lot of money transferring dogs to the Human Society of Cedar Creek Lake, including time and transportation. Building a county shelter has been discussed for years, he said, and some cities want to partner with the county on a shelter.