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Fannin County Commissioners Court hears of pending litigation regarding courthouse repairs
By Allen Rich
Feb 7, 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 6, 2024. The meeting opened with an invocation by Brian Lackey, pastor of OnceCity Church in Bonham, and pledges were led by Darin Cook of Bonham VFW Post 4852.

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In public forum, Fannin County Judge Newt Cunningham introduced Texas Association of Counties (TAC) County Relations Officer, Rhita Koches.

Darin Cook told of a cookoff at Bonham VFW Post 4852 on February 17; $10 to enter, $5 a bowl, with all proceeds going to Fannin County Family Crisis Center.

Cook said the Texas Veterans Land Board has paid for a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Wall to be available for public viewing in Bonham May 1-2, and then on display in Pottsboro May 5.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court approved payment of bills totaling $461,150.25; payroll was $261,967.07.

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Commissioners court approved minutes from a regular meeting held January 16, 2024.

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Report of monies received by the Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 office for January 2024; $5,049.70.

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Discussion items

Fannin County Commissioners Court discussed the U.S. Census Bureau Boundary Annexation Survey (BAS)

Judge Cunningham said he will check the survey and then likely confirm that boundary lanes are correct. 

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Discussion, consideration and action items

Fannin County Commissioners Court approved Fannin County Purchasing Procedures. This will result in an updated and simplified version of the manual.

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Commissioners Court approved payment to Document Logistix for software used by county law enforcement agencies through October 2024.

The county had received an estimate of slightly more than $19,000, but when the invoice arrived, it was more than $9,000 higher than the estimate.

When the county balked at the surprising and significant price hike, Document Logistix eventually sent a revised invoice for $19,243.82.

The county will go out for bids in the next cycle.

Judge Cunningham thanked Chris Wilson for wise counsel that proved to be accurate and helpful during negotiations.

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Commissioners court accepted a quote from Tyler Technologies for Report Management Software licenses for county constables; $1,525.00 to be paid from contingency.

Fannin County Auditor Alicia Whipple informed the court that the county currently has approximately $230,000 in contingency now.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court passed on an agenda item regarding the purchase of body camera for Constable Precinct 1 to replace non-working camera; $610.00 to be paid from contingency.

The county questions its liability because the manufacturer supplied software that caused the camera to malfunction.

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Commissioners court accepted the donation of two display boards from the Bonham Chamber of Commerce to be used at the Fannin County Clerkís office.

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Fannin County Commissioners Court passed on, and will continue to consider, an agenda item regarding the policy to work with precinct employees to acquire a Commercial Driverís License (CDL).

A company based in Greenville, Texas provides this course at a cost of approximately $2,500 per driver. There is no refund if the driver fails.  

In an effort to have more precinct employees with CDLs, the county is willing to pay for the course if the employee agrees to repay the county if he or she separates from the county in less than three years.

A graduated scale was discussed that called for the employee to repay the county the full cost of the course if the employee separates from the county for any reason within the first 12 months; the employee would pay half the cost of the course if the employee separates from the county in 12-24 months.

County resident Darin Cook said courts often consider similar agreements to be illegal indentured servitude.

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County Commissioners Court approved an Interlocal Agreement between Fannin County and the Town of Ector for road work.

Judge Cunningham thanked Andy Garner for his assistance.

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With minor amendment, Fannin County Commissioners Court approved 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

In a brief discussion regarding the Fannin County Subdivision Committee and the Fannin County Subdivision Policy, Judge Cunningham said the county is getting a lot of requests for waivers and variances.

"Comply with the rules and it is easy," Cunningham suggested. "I do want quality development. If we are going to have RV parks in the county, they will have to be quality RV parks."

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Judge Cunningham said negotiations continue regarding courthouse repairs and pending litigation. Cunningham explained that he has filed a 202 petition and asked to take discovery in an attempt to determine what was done, what wasn't done, and who is responsible. 

According to the Texas Civil Justice League, Rule 202, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, enables a person to petition the court for an order authorizing the taking of a deposition on oral examination or written questions either: (a) to perpetuate or obtain the personís own testimony or that of any other person for use in an anticipated suit; or (b) investigate a potential claim or suit.

 Millwork issues also plague the restored building.

"A lot of thing weren't done that were represented to be done," stated Cunningham as he looks at $20,000 it will cost to adjust jury chairs and another $20,000 of work needed in the basement.

"Contractors are saying the county signed off and I'm telling them to prove it," Cunningham told the court.

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News about preliminary work at the justice center was more positive.

"It actually looks promising," Cunningham said. "I'm pleased at how demolition is going."

Cunningham said he plans to hold the line on the amount budgeted for this project, but he added that the county could sell some land in the vicinity of the Multipurpose Complex to cover any shortfall. 

"I don't want the county to go into any more debt," Cunningham noted. "We need a utilitarian justice center."

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Two residents complained about the condition of Fannin County roads.

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Commissioners court decided there was no need for executive sessions this week.