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Fannin County Commissioners Court approves select demolition at justice center
By Allen Rich
Nov 23, 2023
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Fannin County, Texas -- Fannin County Judge Newt Cunningham presided over a regular meeting of Fannin County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, with Pct. 1 Commissioner Dale McQueen, Pct. 3 Commissioner Jerry Magness and Pct. 4 Commissioner Doug Kopf in attendance; Pct. 2 Commissioner A.J. Self was absent.

The meeting opened with an invocation by Michael Evans, Pastor of the Windom United Methodist Church, and pledges were led by Major James Manis (Ret.).

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In public forum, Judge Cunningham told about a rare celestial phenomenon coming up in a little more than four months that has the potential to impact Fannin County.

"April 8, right here in Fannin County, we are going to experience a total solar eclipse," Cunningham explained.

He said it has been 650 years since this area experienced its last total solar eclipse in the year 1397.

The solar eclipse will begin at noon on April 8, 2024, with three minutes of a total eclipse beginning at 1:47 p.m.

Of course, cloud cover could diminish this rare viewing opportunity, but the county and the state are preparing for an influx of visitors.

"I would suggest you get proper glasses," the county judge advised. 

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Bonham Fire Chief Scott Ridling presented the EMS report for October 2023.

Chief Ridling said the state suggests planning for the total solar eclipse because of the possibility of a flood of visitors.

"We are working with state and the county to prepare for the impact," Ridling told the court.

The department has been receiving an average of 12.8 calls per day and slow collections are causing some concerns.

Ridling said his department is fully staffed after recovering from an uptick in COVID-19; five employees were out with COVID at the start of the month.

"It's still out there," Ridling warned.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court approved payment of the bills totaling $443,302.07.

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Commissioners court approved the Auditor's Year-End Reports.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court approved minutes from a special meeting on November 14, 2023.

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Report of monies received by the Fannin County Clerk’s office for October 2023; Land Records, $32,123.50, All Courts combined, $8,570.50.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court approved the Treasurer's Financial Report for October 2023, as well as the Treasurer's Investment Report for October 2023.

"Our local sales tax is paying very strong," reported Fannin County Treasurer David Woodson.

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Discussion, Consideration and Action Items

Fannin County Commissioners Court voted to correct two Fannin County Pay Dates for 2024 - change October 25 to October 11 and October 27 to October 25.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court passed on an agenda item regarding whether to make changes or keep current Texas County District Retirement System Plan (TCDRS).

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Fannin County Commissioners Court voted to begin negotiations with Freese and Nichols to possibly retain the consulting and engineering firm for the county's engineering services.

Four firms submitted proposals to provide engineering services and the county's ad hoc committee interviewed all four before deciding to recommend Freese and Nichols. 

The committee preferred Freese and Nichols for two primary reasons. The firm is already familiar with Fannin County and zoning around the county's two new lakes, and Freese and Nichols only represents government entities, not developers.

Founded in 1894, the company has been in business 128 years, has approximately 1,100 employees, and for the last 15 years Freese and Nichols has focused on county governments.

The county intends for developers to pay for engineering services provided by the firm. 

Alan D. Hendrix, P.E., Manager, North Texas Transportation Group at Freese and Nichols, told commissioners court, "We are doing this for a lot of cities and counties around the area right now."

"They have always served us very well," Commissioner Magness stated.

With commissioners approving this agenda item, negotiations can begin with Freese and Nichols.

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Commissioners court passed on an agenda item regarding a decision whether or not to go out for bid for copier leases and services.

Commissioner Kopf has expertise with copier leases and volunteered his services.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court passed on an agenda item regarding a decision to rent a Smooth Pad 48" Roller from ASCO Equipment Rental for one month for Precinct 1.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court voted to approve an amount of up to $413,829.00 for the demolition of (a) the northwest portion of the old Wal-Mart building loading area; (b) interior finishes in buildings, including the old Wal-Mart and Brookshire's; and (c) the strip center located at the new Justice Center site.

The county judge was asked if that figure includes discounts for recyclables or an exclusion for undiscovered hazardous materials.

When pressed for what this project will cost, Judge Cunningham said the county is in the process of determining a firm figure.

"Ask me in 30 days," Cunningham said.

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Commissioners court approved an Interlocal Agreement to allow the City of Honey Grove to piggyback on Fannin County’s contract with Wilson Culverts to purchase culverts.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court passed on an agenda item regarding an Interlocal Agreement between Fannin County and the City of Bonham related to development and implementation of regulations in Extraterritorial Jurisdictions (ETJ)

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Fannin County Commissioners Court passed on an agenda item regarding an Interlocal Agreement between Fannin County and the City of Leonard related to development and implementation of regulations in Extraterritorial Jurisdictions (ETJ)

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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.)

Judge Cunningham said that repairs at the courthouse were continuing.

"It is a long process, but we are getting there," remarked Cunningham.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court passed on a need to hold an executive session.