Friday, January 29, 2016

Grits for Breakfast: Senators hate on driver surcharge law: 'Immoral,' ...

Grits for Breakfast: Senators hate on driver surcharge law: 'Immoral,' ...: At a Texas Senate Transportation Committee hearing yesterday, Chairman Robert Nichols chastised the Department of Public Safety for failing ...

City of Marfa Council Meeting, Jan 28, 2016, 6 PM, Marfa City Hall agenda and notes

Marfa City Council Meeting 01/28/2016, City Hall, Marfa, 6 PM

All council members present.
Mayor, City Administrator, Marfa Fire Chief Gary Mitschke also present.

Meeting called to order at 6:05 PM.

Citizen Comments:
Beebe comments regarding potential ESD formation, City of Presidio proposed action item regarding Presidio County contribution to Presidio EMS for continued EMS service at 25% of incurred costs (notes on this covered in Presidio County Commissioners meeting 1/26). Beebe encourages progress on ESD formation, explains that Mayor Ferguson came up with idea for proposal to Presidio council and gave short presentation during commissioners court meeting public comments 1/26. Good faith effort to find a solution, but also a way to get for in the door to grab County monies supposedly coming in from pipeline property tax revenue. Beebe encourages council to stay focused on countywide answer, countywide communication between all entities, interested parties. Doesn't think County will support the additional funding without more information and/or until ESD concept is eliminated.

Minutes: approved

City Administrator report:
Employee matters: library assistant advertised. One employee plans to resign. 
One public works employee plans to resign, another hired.
One additional part time employee has been hired at Tourist Info center.

Grants: proposals for admin of planning grant. Grantworks applied
Paving project has been advertised for admin and engineering, due Feb 24. One engineering proposal received from a Midland Co.
Engineer and surveyor for utility project re: St George street and infrastructure project have met. 
Engineering for sewer plant auger project is done. Taking bids for completing firm. Will reduce overtime hours.
Water well project- engineering regarding how close to old well new well can be drilled underway.
Texas Railroad Commission inspected natural gas system over three days. No violations, but there will be two additional inspections this year. There used to be only one per year. Onerous.
New meters need to be purchased on water wells so that old ones can be recalibrated. TCEQ inspections. Sewer water meter also had a problem.

Mustard says he passed out a copy of City of Presidio resolution re: EMS funding. Says he doesn't see any interest from City Council of Presidio to try to achieve an ESD re: EMS services. Doesn't share Beebe's viewpoint but defers to additional insight on the matter. At some point City of Marfa will have to take up the issue and see what direction to go.

No Mayor or Councilmember comments.

New Business:
1) Ordinance 16-01 regarding General Muncipal Election for May 7, 2016.
Baeza, Scott and Bassham are up for re-election. Packets available at City Hall. Early voting starts in April, Rosie Garcia will be election presiding judge. 

2) Water well surcharge. Ordinance 16-02. Water well construction payments to Texas Water Development Board for loan for well construction. At time of budgeting, amount was unknown. Loan says that a surcharge is a possibility and can also be coming from interest and sinking fund starting next year. Mustard says that this year's payments are only for interest. $10062.78 due for this year. Surcharge per meter amounts to about $4.00. Surcharge next year per meter could be lower if property tax I&S accessed next year. Balancing users versus property owner cost allocation will be issue. This year because of budget surcharge option is only one. Next year's payments will ab plus or minus $36,000. 

3) Electrical service contract. Mayor asks for someone to move to table. Numbers not ready. 

4) Law enforcement contract with Presidio County. Mustard says this year's contract differences are regarding enforcement of ordinances and in monthly payments. Last year monthly was 24,100 dollars approx and this one is monthly for $29,050 mas o menos. Money budgeted to cover all monies, including those not yet paid. Manny asks about City of Marfa. Judge Guevara present. Asks about contract as she has not yet seen it. Mayor says it is nearly identical to last year's. Contract will go before commissioners court to be approved if approved today by City Council.
Simpson motions to approve. Unanimous.

5) Proposal from Wyatt Group - feasibility study as proposed by Marfa Lodging Association. Mercer Black DeClercq presents. Hotels got together to discuss teaming up to attempt to attract lodging and events like corporate business travelers, conventions et al. 
Wyatt Group out of Austin helped. Most business traffic is Mon-Friday traffic, which is when the hotels are currently not full. Took basic proposal to Mayor, etc. 
Simpson asks about meetings of groups. Mercer ads that they have had one unofficial meeting and will have first official one soon. Will include reps from Tourism Bureau. Meeting will be Feb 5th, likely at USO. Scot McGehee will come in as well, city reps, Marfa Lodging Association. Manny Baeza asks about tabling item until after first meeting. Mercer says their proposal is very solid, and says that would be OK, but the plan is developed. Plan basically asks Wyatt Group to analyze Marfa as a convention and business meeting destination. What would be needed, what do we already have, how to market it, how to make it work well. Hotel/motel funds are appropriately spent on such items. Mercer asks for approval. Simpson says that there is not even a head of board, yet, perhaps should table. Mustard says that this would be an agreement between City and Wyatt Group with help from Lodging Association to analyze. Manny Baeza wants to table until after meeting. 
Mercer says that they want this to happen, will assist in any way possible. Mark Scott says he thinks it's a great idea. Dan Dunlap says Scott McGehee has reviewed this, met with Wyatt, was enthusiastic about it after meeting. Mayor advocates for entering into an agreement. 
Manny asks about occupancy rate during the week. 30/40% during the week, 100% on weekends. Mustard says this is a good time for questions. $6750.00 plus travel expenses for this first phase of study. Comes from hotel/motel taxes. Bassham moves to approve. Seconded by Scott. Vote: Scott, Bassham, Stanley in favor, Baeza and Simpson opposed. Passed. 
Mayor asks group to get more information to send out meeting info from city. Feb 5th, public meeting.

6) Inter-local agreement with Hospital District re: funding for Marfa EMS/ ambulance service. Vetted by City Atty Teresa Todd. Dunlap presents map. Different areas highlighted regarding City of Marfa EMS service area. South to Elephant Rock, out Casa Piedra road to end of pavement. West to Plata. Agreement does not require city to go to Presidio. It does require City to enter into a mutual aid agreement with City of Presidio. Mutual aid agreement would likely be separate. There is a current agreement with Jeff Davis county. Marfa now serves Valentine area. Mustard stresses need to develop an agreement with Presidio County to provide services outside city limits. Never has existed before. Prior agreement with City of Presidio, unapproved by council, was not followed to the letter by either party. Work on agreements will be necessary in the future. City's intent is to enter into good faith agreements/negotiations.
Mustard says no discussions with any parties have been had as of yet.
Bert LaGarde, head of Marfa EMS has assisted thus far on some consulting with Mustard regarding proposals. 
Dunlap says that if this agreement is approved, he has two proposals from ambulance manufacturers to consider. Assuming hospital district looks at ambulance proposals as well, then city could be ordering ambulance within a couple of weeks. Stanley makes motion to approve Agreement. Unanimous.
Dunlap presents proposals from Frazer Co and from Siddons-Martin. Frazer is out of Houston, Siddons-Martin  is out of Florida. Ambulance manufacturers. Both have same specs. H/S is approx $292,000. Frazer is less radio, which would cost approx $7,000. H/S has service rep in Midland. Frazer units are user maintainable. Both trucks are Ford F-450s. Stockton Ford services chassis. Frazer is $ 222,000 approx.
Bert says that Terlingua runs Frazers, very happy with equipment, have remounted their box three times. Bert is comfortable with Frazer.
Dunlap recommends Frazer. Both are BuyBoard items, do not have to be bid by State law. Grant is up to $300,000 so if there is money leftover, there is some flexibility for some other related purchases.
Unanimous for Frazer. Lead time on ambulance 6-7 months.

Adjourn at 6:59 PM

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting Agenda and Notes January 26, 2016, 9 AM, Presidio, TX

Here is the agenda for the meeting that occurred Tuesday Jan 26 in Presidio at the courthouse annex. Notes follow below the scans. -DB

Presidio County Commissioners Court meeting 1-26-2016 9 AM, Presidio County Courthouse Annex, Presidio.

Convene at 9:12 AM
All commissioners present.

John Ferguson, Mayor of Presidio present

Public Comments:
John Ferguson: ambulance funding. Says he will run a proposal by City Council to consider running the ambulance service with a 25% funding provision from County in the future.
Based around Trans Pecos Pipeline anticipated funding. Seeing that County could have additional funding from pipeline. Says that he will propose this on Thursday night's city meeting.
25% would be approximately $125,000/year. 
Wants to have County and City on the same page, doe not want to discontinue service to the County.
Eloy Aranda asks what the Judge thinks the City of Marfa wants. Judge says City of Marfa is in support of an ESD rather than continuing split services. White says that commissioners should not respond, not on agenda. Hernandez asks what percentage of costs come from outside of City limits. Unknown at this point. End of presentation.

Michael Bruders(?) with Honeywell, re County Jail planning for control systems, etc.
Met with Sam Cobos at jail to look at systems. 
Trying to put together a format to develop new systems repair/replace plans and funding options. Using Michael Smith engineering out of Plano.
Basic introduction to commissioners. Out of Minnesota. Says current system at jail was OK for its time. Deferred maintenance has cost, but also controls are antiquated and systems are near end of life. 
Vasquez interested in timeline for a proposal. Brewers says that looking at 3 months or so for basics. Hopefully identify costs and options for next year's budget.
Systems include fire, HVAC, electric, gas, etc. Probably return with basic look at proposals by March. Working with Sam Cobos.

Judge's and commissioners announcements:
Judge says she attended a RGCOG meeting and borderplex workforce solutions announced that City of Presidio will have its first licensed child care center later this year.
Candelaria water system; Judge went there to check on it. Person who collects the money was not there
Residents complaining that water is over chlorinated. Public water system must have a board in place. No board currently. Candelaria residents may need to appoint a board. Meter reader lady says that accounts share meters, etc to thwart fees. Need more meters. Hernandez says that Stormy Noble is working on it, should show up to meeting today but not here yet. Hernandez says that although the residents run their own system, they need help with organization and everything else. State is coming in very soon. Will need an electrician to work on control panel,  will need a plumber and someone I'll need a Class D license to operate system. Stormy Noble and Jim Bloomberg say they will help. Judge says they need a treasurer. Stormy will need to go to class for Class D certification. Hernandez is trying to set up a meeting with the majority of residents to come up with a plan. 
Judge: continuing education for commissioners with TAC. Info in packets for commissioners.
Judge: two indigent burials this month in county. Judge is working on an official policy for these burials. Will include a possibility that Judge could investigate whether people are truly indigent before county pays for burials. Memorial Funeral Home in Alpine charges $1200 for each. Two people this month from Presidio. One had no relatives at all, one had a niece. No provisions for County to truly tell if these folks are indigent.
Judge will work on a policy and get some legal advice on cremations, options, etc.

Commissioner Aranda: TCEQ email requesting that County clean up spilled oil in Presidio yard. Will answer to agency by Feb 14, being cleaned by road and bridge.

Item 6: 
Discussion with action requiring all county dept heeds and employees that have grant purchased or county purchased vehicles to maintain logs. 
White makes a motion to require. Some discussion, homeland security requires it. Vasquez seconds,  unanimous. County Treasurer has logs available.
Item 7: Submit logs to Treasurer on a monthly basis.
Motions carries unanimously. Aranda makes motion, Vasquez seconds. Unanimous

Item 8: Renewal of service contract for jail ID database for employees and other officials. Laminated badges, etc. Equipment has already been purchased, this is for annual software support contract for firm that provides it. Sheriff's office wants to pay for this out of abandoned motor vehicle fund. This also may be for technical support. Some confusion. White says we need to find out. Brought by Sheriff and wants purchase order. Must be approved by commissioners court. Vasquez wants to table item until next meeting to get more information on what exactly this is. 
Vasquez so moves. Judge recommends no action. Hernandez wants to put it on next agenda. White wants a presentation not. Sheriff but by company. Motion to table accepted.

Item 9:
Kevin Moize: property owned by County to be potentially sold. 
Gonzalez street property, Anderson addition. Presentation with regard to property.
Taxes have not been paid in years. Appraised value of property is 7,460 to now 11,630 dollars. Much vandalism. Searched for owner. Auction occurred and minimum bid was much more that value. Now makes proposal to sell the property to him. Judge has no questions. White has questions. Asks Ruben Carrasco about property. Ruben says that he investigated property. Had trouble finding property. Found it, but boundaries of property unclear. It is the old ice plant, next to IBWC. West of football fields in Presidio, across from AEP plant. White clarifies that it is in a good location. Judge says this is discussion only item. Next item is executive session on same item. Aranda asks what plans are for space. Moize says he wants to use it as an art studio. 
Executive session convened at 10:04 AM.

Return from executive session at 10:22 AM, reconvene into regular session at 10:24 AM.
Action on property at 1500 Anderson. White moves to eject bid. Unanimous.

Next item:To rescind 3 of 4 parking spaces behind Marfa Country Clinic back to city. Currently pay $5 a year to city. Judge thinks three spaces should be abandoned and keep one for eventual storage of veterans officer car. Judge makes motion, White seconds, unanimous.

Item: to require monthly reports from Sheriff's Office and quarterly reports from Probation Office, Child Advocacy, Food Pantry.
Aranda makes motion, seconded by White. Unanimous.

Item- emergency purchase: invoice for repairs to Sheriff's office pager system. Unbudgeted repairs. RTC Corp. Jeff Davis County has lent a system to county in meantime.
Invoice totals: 
Costs could come from dispatch budget or make a line item budget transfer. There is money in dispatch at this point. Patty Roach clarifies. White asks what the best way to do this is. Patty says there's not a lot of difference. Judge makes motion to take it out of jail fund balance and put into dispatch.

Item- City of Presidio EMS report. Submitted for approval since it was not submitted last time. White says he does not see a financial report in their report. Agreed by other commissioners. No financial report included, only an activity report. White says that commissioners need a financial report to understand how money is being spent. How can commissioners court understand how expenses are incurred without a detail. Judge says she will make sure that Presidio EMS has received the format commissioners approved for submitting reports so that county can get the right info. White says he would like to see Presidio EMS re-submit the report with financials. Just passed that format last month. Judge mentions that she has still not seen City of Presidio 2016 budget despite certified mail request. 
Hernandez moves to accept and make sure next report includes financials. Vasquez seconds. Approved.

Line item transfers: 
Emergency management- truck repairs, $200 for new tires, old tires dried out. Transferred from capital outlay.
Labor from county auditor to communications: $1100, 
Parks and Wildlife traffic tickets: county keeps only 15% of game warden tickets related to game warden jurisdictional offenses. Transferred by treasurer back to State.

Bills and expenses: 
Chase wants to add an expense for hangar door replacement at Marfa airport. Wants to use a proven door company. Company needs  a 20% deposit to begin fabrication. Wants to add total cost of doors, send in two payments. In budget. 50% reimbursable by RAMP grants. Patty Roach concerned about paying anything for something not received. Uses Brewster County as example with their vehicle they never received after supplier declared bankruptcy. Chase counters that this is a low-risk situation. Hernandez agrees with auditor. Discussion.
Down payment listed on approval of bills. Patty Roach says that is now the issue; $3147.00 up front with nothing received. She says she is OK with down payment amount as limited risk to county.
Agenda item for next meeting would be a C.O.D. amount total  with currently unknown shipping costs for receiving door system in good condition, according to Patty.
Total cost of doors plus installation estimated to be $36,000 +/-.

Hernandez mentions costs of AT&T services. Frances Garcia says that company responded to inquiry on rates. White ask about Big Bend Telephone. Judge says she has not yet heard back. Need presentation from BBT.
Hernandez asks about number of phone lines per office. Katie Sanchez says John is working on how many phone lines, how much lines cost, etc, per office and countywide. Huge numbers. Hernandez would like to see offices reduce number of lines. Discussion about costs of long distance versus cheaper cell phones, etc.
Judge will call BBT after meeting. Vasquez wants an item on next agenda.
Oil change for Constable Pct 2 reimbursement at $135. Diesel truck? Looking for invoice to clarify...
Frances Garcia looks for invoice, Tom's Texaco. Bill for filters, oil change, tire rotation, car wash, etc.
 Katie says the County spent about $98,000 on communications last year. More discussion. 
Final S&B consulting/engineering bills of approx $200,000 and $70,000 are submitted. Port of entry/bridge expansion costs. Reimbursed by grants. Katie says County earned a little bit of interest of those monies while we held it.

Bills approved except for one for $230.00 for Sheriff's Office with incomplete information. 

Adjourn at 11:15 AM.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Statement from Democratic Primary Candidate County Commissioner Precinct One Brenda Silva Bentley

Hello, everyone.

This is the second statement received by me from one of our local candidates in the upcoming Primary Elections taking place March 1st. Turnout in these local elections is very low,smoking every vote counts. Precinct One includes the eastern part of Marfa and runs all the way down the eastern side of the County to Presidio. It's a varied bunch of potential voters and has traditionally only had several hundred people voting in total. Brenda Silva Bentley lives in the Marfa neighborhood Sal Si Puedes and is running against incumbent James White III for the Democratic nomination in the Precicnt One race. The Democratic Primary is expected to decide the election as a whole.

On March 1, 2016, the citizens of Presidio County will have the opportunity to go to the polls and let their voices be heard.  My name is Brenda Silva Bentley, and I am seeking the Democratic nomination for the office of Presidio County Commissioner Precinct 1.  

I am a lifelong resident of Marfa and Presidio County.  I attended Marfa schools and graduated from Marfa High School in 1990.  Shortly after graduation, I attended Sul Ross State University.  

My husband Joel Bentley and I have 3 children, Bryanna, 12; Andru, 9; and Mikayla, 4, all students at Marfa ISD. 

I started my career as a secretary for the Presidio County Treasurer in 1996, and later went to work for the Presidio County Appraisal District.  When long-time clerk, Ramona Lara made the decision to retire, I sought the nomination for Presidio County & District Clerk.  In January of 1999, I was elected and took office.  I served as Presidio County & District Clerk for 2 full terms, until December of 2006.  After the birth of our first child, I made the decision not to seek re-election and be a full-time, stay-at-home mom until my kids were all school age.  During that time, I have assisted the Presidio County Attorney and the Presidio County Judge, who were in need of someone to fill in temporarily for their full-time help.  I currently assist the City of Marfa, and both Presidio ISD and Marfa ISD with elections.  I am also currently contracted by Big Bend Title Company, where I am scanning and digitizing Presidio County land records for the Marfa facility.   

I feel that with my varied and well-rounded experiences, I have gained an abundance of knowledge and insight that will be beneficial if I am elected as Presidio County Commissioner Precinct 1.  I have dealt directly with budgets, courts, county records, elections, administrative duties, commissioner’s court meetings, other elected officials and the public.  My goal is to provide an atmosphere of professionalism, respect, unity and transparency.  I feel that we need to create a civic culture of mutual respect that will work to the benefit of our communities.  I am open to diverse opinions and vow to consider different options in order to make sound decisions for the county.  I will do my best to represent the best interest of the people and show regard for the taxpayers.  I am a levelheaded individual with compassion, character and an unbridled love for this county.  I ask for your vote, trust, and the opportunity to serve my community in the capacity of Presidio County Commissioner Precinct 1.  Your support is greatly appreciated.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Statement from Candidate for Presidio County Sheriff Caesar Melendez

Hello, everyone.
I am posting statements from the candidates in the upcoming primary elections (Election Day is March 1st) who wish to have them posted up here. All candidates are invited to submit statements.

The first statement I have to post is one posted by Caesar Melendez, former Presidio County Sheriff's Office Deputy, who is running against 18 year incumbent Sheriff Danny Dominguez in the Democratic Primary for Presidio County Sheriff.

Here is Caesar's statement:

I hearby announce to the citizens of Presidio County my intent to run against Danny Dominguez for the position of Sheriff of Presidio County.

I know that the Sheriff’s office has taken a dramatic downturn over the last few years. There is a severe lack of integrity, competence and accountability with Danny Dominguez. Unnecessary spending on vehicles that are only parked and hardly used, and his disregard to purchase necessary life saving and crime scene equipment for his officers. Investigations that are done poorly and resulting in negative consequences for the victims of crime due to lack of training. Certain citizens are not treated fairly while others enjoy total immunity from any consequences from the law. Complaints against a certain deputy for misconduct are dismissed and/ or never investigated. And the inability of not being able to communicate or work with the commissioners court in solving serious financial problems.

The citizens of Presidio County deserve a Sheriff that is competent to do the job at all levels. Not just by sitting behind the desk, but the ability to go into the field to handle calls and conduct a proper investigation without having to call an outside agency to do the job for him. A Sheriff that will train his officers correctly, but will discipline them for any type of misconduct against department policy or violations of state law. A Sheriff that will work with all county departments in solving problems, instead of creating them or refusing to work with the departments in finding a solution. A Sheriff that will be accountable for his actions and have the integrity and honor to admit when he is wrong, and not point fingers and place blame at others.

I have been a peace officer since 1998. I had the privilege to work with several agencies since and have gained a large amount of experience that I have put to use. I have conducted many investigations over the years involving violations state law. I am a certified tcole instructor, firearms instructor, as well as a defensive tactics instructor. I was also certified in private security levels 1, 2, 3, and executive and dignitary protection. I am presently a third degree black belt in Aiki-jujutsu, a first degree in Okinawa kempo karate and a former member of the OBC Judo team. And at present I am a student in Kodenkan Jiu-jitsu.  

If elected my promise to the citizens of Presidio County that I will bring back integrity and honor to this office. I will make sure every citizen is treated fairly and with respect. I will train and/ or seek the proper training for all staff so that the department will work at the highest level of productivity. I will work with all county and city departments at all levels to find solutions to make our communities a safe and pleasant place to live.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Presidio, TX airport meeting regarding TXDOT aviation runway seal coat grant notes

Here are my notes from the TXDOT aviation meeting with Presidio TX airport stakeholders regarding the upcoming grant for runway seal coating. 1/13/2016 8:30 AM, Presidio

Presidio Airport meeting with TXDOT 01/13/2016, Presidio Airport, 8:30 AM

Presenters are Larry Caldwell, Klotz and Associates
Ryan Hindman, TXDOT

Scope of work is to rehabilitate the pavement at Presidio airport.
Generally seal coat. TXDOT likes to use P-631, an mauls ion seal coat. Also looking at a thicker emulsion seal coat for this project.

Seal cracks, put seal coat on top, re-mark runways.

Base bid is for normal seal coat. 
Add alternate is grip-flex seal coat.
Contractors can bid both or either.

Possible that grip-flex company, supplier, producer will bid on this project with their product.

Jim White mentions that sometimes sealing cracks is unsuccessful. Any warranty on this work? This is expensive work.
TXDOT says that cracks will happen.
White wants to know the typical cause of cracks. 

TXDOT says they are sealing runway, if nothing is done it will get worse. 
Chase Snodgrass says runway is actually in really good shape, very few cracks. 

Brad Newton says that the ion charge of a seal coat can make a big difference insofar as whether it will stick well or not.

One year warranty on seal coat. TXDOT says that they don't have these problems at other airports, they do it all the time. 

Life of a seal coat is typically 5-7 years. Last overlay on this airport was nearly 9 years ago. 
Chase wants to know about the satisfaction level of people using the grip-flex product versus the regular product.
Jim Whits asks about boiling point of asphalt, temperatures get really hot, sometimes he has seen asphalt melt. Chase says that could be a factor with heavier aircraft on hot days, specifically when they are turning around, gouging the surface.

Brad Newton asks what the surface temp in the summer is on the runway. Unknown says Chase.
Larry says the mix they use is adequate for this temp range, since it has not been an issue here in the past. 
Brad Newton thinks it would be worth mentioning in the specifications that there is extreme heat out here.

Runway will be closed during seal coat.
Primary impact could be temporary suspension of medical extractions. Will be closed for up to about 2-3 weeks, not necessarily consecutive. Likely not consecutive. 

State funded project, not waiting on federal funds. Can start pretty much right away.
City of Presidio can supply water for washing runway after cracks sealed, prior to seal-coat application.
Chase asks if it's possible to get the driveway and parking aprons re-sealed at the same time. TXDOT says that airport can try to negotiate with contractor, cannot be funded by TXDOT since it's not direct air operations related.

Paint for runway markings will be added several weeks after seal cost to allow for curing, avoid discoloration of paint. 

Ryan says that project could start in March, possible bids in hand by late April. 
County has to pay their share. Construction can start around July, most likely. 
County and PMDD cover 10% of project. $14,500 from County and 14,500 from Presidio Municipal Development Corporation. Total project budget is $290,000.

Apron will be done before runway. Allows for airport to be closed fewer days.

No RPR on this project. Chase Snodgrass will function as RPR.

Meeting over at 9:27.

Marfa Airport /TXDOT aviation, grant project meeting 4PM 1/12/2016 Marfa airport

Here are my notes on the meeting between local stakeholders and TXDOT, with additional reps from engineering firms regarding the runway lighting project and additional improvements to the Marfa Airport, Presidio County, TX.

Marfa Airport meeting with TXDOT representatives, 4:00 PM Marfa Airport 1/12/2016

Marfa project will be a federally funded project. Anticipating funding to come in June. Project construction likely to start in October 2016.

Final design meeting for review of Marfa airport improvements design.
Mostly electrical. Lighting replacement and wiring replacement.

Scope of project is runway edge lights, signage, wind come lamp, papis.
Limited budget at $800,000 with essentially no wiggle room due to state budgetary crisis.
Anticipating three good bids on this project.

Burt Compton asks which item would/could be trimmed back on. 
Reps say that they want to have all. 
Asks about signs.
Larger signs 60 feet off edge of taxiway. Decision made to accommodate gliders.

TXDOT Planning comments say that taxiway lights are not supported. Existing will be removed. 
No runway exit signs either. Reflectors on ground will signify taxiways.
Green centerline reflectors on taxiways.
Chase Snodgrass expresses concerns about future lack of taxiway lighting. 

Decision is made to keep taxiway lights on taxiway that intersects 13.
Two additional blue lights between white runway lights to signify taxiway. 

TXDOT Planning wants to keep new electrical vault in plans as last potential deduct from bids. Vault building is pre-cast concrete as specified. 

Add alternate one is LED upgrade from Quartz. Quartz in base bid.
15% approximate extra cost for LED. About $9000 upgrade.
Electrical costs can make up for this extra cost. 
AEP is aware of project upgrade coming. No issue there.
First add alternate will be LEDs
Chase advocates for LED, may make case to commissioners court if need be.
 Potential for LED lighting being made mandatory at some point in the future, however TXDOT still sees it as an upgrade.
Add alternate is also wind cones. Primary wind cone should be done if possible. 
Revision will be to make primary part of base bid, but being first deduct.
No supplemental wind cone lighting. Would be about $15,000 to add supplemental wind cones.
Size three guide signs are part of base bid. Deduct to size one if need be. 
TXDOT thinks signs are more important than vault, other things Chase thinks are more important.
Discussion regarding open cut instead of directional bore drilling beneath taxiways, runway. Open cut will be cheaper, can be done quickly. Repair concrete. Could depend on price of concrete. Directional drilling could be cheaper. Possible deduct item.
Airport would be mostly shut down for a few days if cuts are made.
Quartz vs LED papis (light array positioned next to runway-stands for precision approach path indicator). Quartz still generally used. Unsure of LED track record.
Will explore cost of LED option in bid process. 
Conversation about including baffles re papis.
Possible stub out for electric to add taxiway lights later added. Not a problem.

Instructions for contractor regarding staging areas for equipment, supplies.
Will be considered and added after Chase weighs in.

If vault is not included in base bid, then where do electrical controllers, regulators, controls, supplies go? 
Need a placeholder for the plan is the concrete vault does not work out. Chase once again talks about a cheaper metal building instead of the $65,000 concrete building. 
Questions about have it outdoors with a shade structure. Chase says that there would be time if there is no vault, to build a vault. TXDOT reps not happy about potential for overlapping contractor times, change orders, etc.
Vault would be located adjacent to the beacon tower. John McCrory asks. 
Chase still can't get his head around the high cost for a vault, would rather opt for a metal building at one tenth of the cost. Possible that county's match (10%) could be greater than cost of a cheaper building. TXDOT folks really want a concrete pad, regardless of wall construction.
Chase wants to research building a building to house electric outside of project.
TXDOT recommends putting electric back where it is now, in the hangar, if vault does not get included in project.
McCrory says that he is not too concerned with location of power is, as long as it does not impede anything or make a dangerous situation.
Beebe asks if there is a real difference between cinder block on a slab vs cast concrete  installation for vault.
TXDOT says that plans will be revised to see if possibly a small building can be built in place to save money.
Chase says we can possibly plan for this. 
Discussion all around.
Chase opposes the location of new equipment to be placed back in the hangar in which the old equipment is based presently. 
Plans will now give contractor options to build a building not pre-cast.
If not, equipment will go back into present hangar.

Fuel farm electric will not be affected by this project.

New rotating beacon installation: accidentally added in plans; not part of project scope.

None of lighting equipment specs are proprietary in final plans.

Conduit trench will be about 12 inches deep.

Jim White asks about solar runway lights. TXDOT says solar powered runway lights are not approved. White says they are FAA approved. He uses them at his own airstrips.
White says they have a radio control center, and he knows it's too late in the game to start on this but was asking anyway. Much cheaper, individually replaced, no conduit. 
TXDOT has never dealt with them, have no information.

Questions to whether signs have to be lighted. Unsure. Engineer says it would be a lot cheaper, but TXDOT rep says he thinks they would need to be lighted. 
McCrory asks Burt Compton if he has any additional thoughts regarding signs. Burt says that he is satisfied, TXDOT is clear on what he needs to continue operating the glider business, which is the only commercial operator based out of Marfa airport.

Bid proposal has 70 calendar days. Talk of dropping that to 60 days. 

Bid includes removal of old electrical work, wiring. Contractor would own salvage material. Any objections from County? Chase says no, not needed, could improve bid numbers. 

Solar lights could be a good option for taxiway lights down the line. Mentioned by engineer...
Chase is interested.
Jim White is interested as to whether Chase is satisfied with all this. Chase says yes. Jim states that commissioners court is very interested in his opinion, since they rely on his knowledge and guidance. Discussion about federal specs, costs, etc.

Jim White requests a summary of everything discussed today. TXDOT says yes, they can do that.
Final documents should be ready by Feb. Chase would like a synopsis of changes made during today's discussion and anytime recently.
Funding/commission funding in June, possibly July. Put out for bid approx two months following that, then construction starts two months following that. 
Bill for County's share of ten percent will come around May/June.

Burt Compton would like a final diagram of sign locations. 
Plans on hand, shown to Burt. Burt verifies. Chase has an electronic copy he can send as well. 
Ryan Hindman, TXDOT
Lecette Ferguson, electrical engineer, 
Larry Caldwell, Klotz Associates

Chase will be rep in charge of monitoring construction.
Resident Project Representative

Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting 1/12/2016 9 AM, Marfa, county courthouse

Here are my notes from the Jan 2016 commissioners court meeting.

Presidio County Commissioners Court 1/12/2016 9 AM Marfa

All present

Public comments:

Announcements from County Judge and Commissioners
Judge Guevara says that last PIPA meeting in Presidio Dec 8. Recaps results from that meeting. 
TXDOT meeting Dec 14 in Presidio. Progress made. Environmental permit still not acquired. Need that before Presidential Permit application submitted. 
Dec 15th Homeland Security came and did an asset inventory on grant items. Inventory went well, a couple of radios not located but everything else there.
We have some time to locate those items. Dec 18th Stonegarden meeting. Confirmed that all of 2014 grant monies will not be expended. Funds will be reallocated to other counties that can use them. 
Still frozen from Harvester grants. Until Harvester grants cleared up, opened up,  things are still up in the air regarding whether we owe them money for reimbursements of fraudulently spent grant funds.
Dec 21st- conference with TCEQ, TDA in reference to the Candelaria water system. Someone must supervise and have a Class D license. Commissioner Hernandez was tat Stormy Noble is here to possibly help out. Who is collecting water system money, other issues need to be addressed. 
Older folks on the board want to retire. Stormy is looking at repairs, has done some wiring and plumbing work. Says control panel that runs the whole system is outdated, in bad repair. Will start chlorinating water tomorrow. Control panel will have to be replaced or repaired. Around $2500 for panel, not including labor from a qualified electrician. Parts and labor thus far have run around $2800 for work already done.
Chlorinator has been broken for a long time. Will be up running tomorrow. Hernandez says that Bloomberg in Ruidosa has been hand-chlorinating water there. Story is willing to get Class D license, Bloomberg is also willing to get his for Ruidosa system. 
Also, system needs new water meters, not enough to serve the community, some people are tapping into system directly.
Stormy is willing to work for "whatever's fair" on the system. He says that once the system is fixed up, the maintenance on it will be pretty easy. 
Judge asked the state if there were grant monies available to pay a system overseer. State said no, those monies need to come from water bills. Hernandez says that right now the system is broken and people down there don't know what they're drinking. Would like to have Stormy fix up the system, get his certification, and then be the overseer of the system. Hernandez recommends this to the court and other commissioners agree. Hernandez will visit with Stormy and the water board tomorrow with regard to this plan. Hopefully the grant the county is applying for will help out as well. 
Judge received a not from the FERC that they have approved the pipeline construction and do not see a problem with the environmental. 
Judge says that holidays went smoothly as far as emergency management. No major issues, weather events.

Item 5- courthouse dome proposed re-opening.
Jim White placed on agenda, says we have security now, can do this.
Steve Marquez will supervise. Friday's are best since courts are not usually open on Fridays here. Can revisit hours and expand them later.
Hernandez says it's a good start.
Judge says that Spring break is coming up, she would like to see the number of days per week expanded from proposed. Explains that during busy times there is a huge demand from tourists. 
Hernandez proposes to start with this and later try to add hours to the schedule.
White agrees, stresses that Constable Marquez has other duties that he has to do, will consult with him. 
Loretto Vasquez proposes that people be able to make appointments with constable to see the dome on days when constable is not busy. Vasquez was asking about a waiver of liability possibly to be signed. John Fowlkes says that signs, waivers etc could help, but nothing has yet happened. Stairs are the most dangerous item. Very steep and shallow. Judge asks for John's recommendation. John says that is is good to have a waiver, etc, but that in actuality the insurance company would decide whether the waiver could reduce (but not eliminate) liability, damages. Possibility of a child falling is greatest danger. There has been a pattern of injuries on those staircases. Vasquez makes a motion to have a waiver for people to sign as part of the system.
Sam Cobos says there may be some structural concerns with regard to having more than five or so people up there. Says the Presidio County Historical commission is willing to help at some point.
Windows have been secured, there are bolt locks on the three Windows that are able to be opened for summertime heat relief, emergency exit to roof...
Cobos endorses an escort system. Perhaps use historical commission to help during spring break, other busy times. 
White makes motion to pass original proposal with sign in sheet and possibility for flexibility during spring break, other busy times based on Judge's and constable's judgment. Hernandez agrees and seconds. Vasquez confirms that sign in would be a liability form. Unanimous.

Item 6-
Discussion only- open carry with regard to courthouse and courthouse annex.
All counties have been advised by Jim Allison, attorney, to continue current policies on arms carrying in courthouse. White motions to table until open carry measures make their way through the courts system. Discussion only item

Item 7- item stating that all bills and invoices be mailed and or submitted to treasures office immediately for payment.
.White asks why bills would be coming to dept heads instead of directly to treasurer. Frances Garcia says that it happens, that is the way it's been for years. Judge uses Verizon bills as an example. Judge says that it would be better is all bills went to treasurer. White asks auditor Patty Roach if bills should come directly to treasurers. Patty says yes, they should all come directly to Treasurer's office. White says that we should not be paying bills that don't go directly to treasurer. Hernandez asks Patty R how this can happen. Patty says that this is likely that this has developed over many years, practices from the past just carrying forward to today. Hernandez mentions that treasurers office should get the bills and ask questions if any to dept heads. Sam Cobos, facility manager, says that he understands that after getting a PO he receives invoice, then he gives it to treasurer to expedite payment to vendor directly. France's Garcia says that's different, since he is getting it directly to treasurer for immediate payment. Problem lies with bills incurring late fees, etc from not being forwarded to treasurer quickly. Judge Guevara makes a motion to require all dept heads to take the necessary steps to ensure that all bills be mailed directly to treasurers office and that treasurer will be point of contact. Unanimous

Item 8- comp time with regard to holiday comp time payments to employees, specifically Sheriff's office members. Judge clarifies that item is on agenda because employees are asking to be paid for comp time over and above max hours allowed. Deputy Pablo Olivas chimes in and clarifies that for Dec 25 time period, comp time hours were subtracted for hrs worked and that brought this issue to the forefront of conversation.
Judge says that policy needs to be changed possibly, but that audit needs to be complete before anything happens. 
Auditor Patty Roach says that they are working on time sheet audits, and that holiday pay issue is being looked at. She says we have problems with the policy, including that deputies are not stipulated to be paid a holiday bonus, although that has been done in the past. She would like to finish the audit and address all time sheet problems at once. She sees issues and points of view, particularly with Sheriff's office complaint regarding comp time holiday payments.
White says it looks like we don't have Anouilh info right now, and that item 9 is connected to this and both should be tabled so problems can be addressed and gotten right the first time. Judge asks Patty Roach when her estimation of the audits compilation is. Patty says she hopes most of it will be done by the next commissioners meeting. Wants to have it done, understands the perceived urgency. Very complex issues here, much more complex that originally thought. Judge asks Patty if policy does not allow for comp time during holidays for sheriff's office and jail staff. Current policy is confusing and has not been enforced in the past. Holiday bonus is in controversy. Extra pay over hours for deputies is not set up, but is for jailers. 
Deputy Olivas says that it does not specifically state that deputies are not singled out, it is for all county employees minus jail personnel. Patty says it is unclear and difficult to apply
Sheriff Dominguez is here, and is ready to speak, he says that he has given the commissioners a handout explaining how it has been done in the past and how he expects deputies should and have been treated. Requests more deputies to help. Says all this could have been avoided if they had more help, but since that didn't happen, this is where we are. Asks for commissioners understanding in resolving this issue. 
Patty says supplement to policy was adopted June 2014. Katie Sanchez says she believes that there was a Stonegarden requirement to add item to policy.
Deputy Velasquez says that not only have they not been compensated but they have had hours taken away. Katie disagrees. Hernandez asks who takes the hours away? Velasquez says possibly treasurer's office. Frances Garcia denies removing earned hours, but they had to revise hours after being told by auditor and OMB that bonus would not be included.
Judge says that for sure hrs worked will be paid and that is not the issue. Let's be clear. 
Jim White motions to table and asks for cooperation between auditor and Sheriff's Office to resolve this together. Items 8 and 9.
Aranda asks about audit. Patty clarifies it's an audit of all county employees, not just jail/Sheriff. Motion seconded by Hernandez. Unanimous. 

Item 10- discussion with action to determine which depts/ organizations should be required to report quarterly instead of monthly. Auditor has provided a form and list of recommendations.
OMB- Monthly- facilities manager- monthly, treasurers report- monthly, capital projects- monthly, airports manager- monthly, clerk's office- monthly, tax assessor- monthly, JP 1, JP2- monthly, Jail, -monthly, 
Vasquez asks Sheriff about transport trips regarding jail, Sheriff and staff have left meeting at this point. Judge taking about jail transport fees, some should go to county and not just jailers for maintenance, van costs, etc. Hernandez asks about jail committee. Includes White and Hernandez, says committee should meet. White recommends Loretto Vasquez be on committee since he knows about jail standards from Border Patrol career. 
Sheriff's office- monthly
County atty- quarterly
Agrilife- monthly, already receive it
Go down list quickly, all recommended to be quarterly reports. 
Golf course report is part of facilities manager's report.
Judge makes motion to approve list as called out. Seconded be Hernandez
Unanimous. Patty Roach clarifies that item included funds distribution schedule and form approval. Court revisits rest of item. Judge amends motion to require all depts to give reports as agreed by commissioners. All funds to outside agencies will be distributed on a quarterly basis and that all outside agencies are required to use new report format from auditor

Item 11- elections at Food Bank building in Presidio. Election Day is March 1st. For not currently being distributed. Early voting for two weeks prior to March 1 st. Dates not clarified. Unanimous

Item 12- TAC Wellness program- $450 has been earned from TAC through incentives. Virgie Pallarez explains health incentive challenges for employees. Patty Roach clarifies how to write these funds into the budget. Not an emergency, the option to list this is to make a note to earmark these new funds as restricted for wellness. County atty Fowlkes says his opinion is that a line item transfer from general fund could be made as non-emergency since it is such a small amount. Discussion regarding how this money can be properly accounted for continues... Judge recommends to table until more information is gathered. Aranda moves, white seconds. Unanimous

Item 13- grading El Paso street and Ave H (S of RR tracks, N of 90/67) Eva Gonzales' property. Wants paving, road access. Says she is surrounded by Tumble In, has gotten permission from neighbor Wilbourn Elliot to use his access to D street which accesses HWY 90/67. Aranda says he has discussed this with Ruben Carrasco. Looking at options with regard to county's possibility to help. Would like to see some written permission. Gonzales wants county to grade El Paso St, H St, D St. Never been cut or graded historically. Exist only on old plat maps.
Ruben Carrasco presents that he has asked Mrs Gonzales to provide licensed survey of plats. Surveyor claims that in order to get to the highway private lands need to be crossed. TXDOT owns part of property. Different claims, Ruben says he cannot build on private land with county resources. Very complicated, surveyor recommends going over all this with county attorney. Judge asks about clarification of recent Constitutional amendment to allow private citizens to reimburse counties for roadwork. John Fowlkes says county does not qualify as far as population count goes. Gonzales argues. Fowlkes says that current census is qualifier. Regardless, Gonzales would have to reimburse county even if work was done. Ruben clarifies that El Paso St does not have any access from any public road East/West. It is landlocked. For road to be opened Gonzales would have to go to various agencies, landowners, county, to get easement access. 
Fowlkes says county cannot grade this. Gonzales needs to go before district court to receive legal access, and once she does, can come before county to grade road access. County cannot fight private land battles for citizens. Fowlkes says she need to file for an easement with a private atty in District Court. Following that, the county may be able to assist but not until then. Not legal for county to deal with property with unknown owners. Gonzales argues about platting, roads, commissioners duties to citizens. Fowlkes says it should be easy to get easement order from District Court. Ruben offers to help. More discussion over details... Hernandez moves to table. Seconded by Judge Guevara. Unanimous.

Item 14- discussion to approve costs for water plan submitted by RGCOG. Administrative costs of approx $62,000. 500 plus dollars of county monies for next two years. $529.84 for this year. Mandated by State, not in budget. Aranda motions to approve. White asks where money comes from. General fund Aranda. unanimous.

Item 15- Administrative Session. 10 minute break at 11:04 AM
Reconvene at 11:20

Auditor's Report- Patty Roach
Updating audit findings. Inmate trust funds, jail commissary funds. Patty has info from jail, ready to input. General news regarding accounts reconciliations. Purchasing policy has been reviewed by outside auditor. Looks good to him. Capital assets review, straightening out problems. Progress is continuing on accounts reconciliations, FY 2016 work. Grant reconciliations are being done by OMB. Hopefully outside audit submission will be on time this year. Looks like it should be. Has not been in past. 
White asks about Stonegarden audit and last year's finding regarding PISD officers overtime. Patty says that items still posted as money due back to the State from Presidio County since it was improper. Katie Sanchez says that state will be financial audit soon on those books and state will decide whether to ask for reimbursement of those funds that were improperly paid out to PISD "overtime" staff. Right now books reflect that those payments were not proper and money is owed back to State. 
Questions about comp time, bonus time policies, procedures. Patty so going over those. Policy will need to be rewritten, make it clear to everyone what it is. Patty wants redesign of time sheets, current one is not consistently filled out by employees in the same fashion. Also will have to look at past errors re payment and commissioners will have to make decisions about how to compensate for these liabilities. Lots of varying errors and discrepancies. Not one person's fault as to how these mistakes have been made. Patty will also visit with TAC on how to make this standardized, right the first time. Decisions with regard to limits of comp time will be addressed. People are to be paid for time worked, by law, regardless of policy. Supervisors need to be trained appropriately when new systems for compensation are put into place. 
Accepted unanimously.

Office of Treasurer- Frances Garcia. Says she received nearly 2 million dollars since last meeting. 

Office of Management and Budget: Katie Sanchez; paid out 1,280,167.00
Good bit back to jail account for US Marshals paid invoices received. Submitted renege and expense sheets for each department to commissioners. Through Dec 31st completed. White asks if any dept is too far ahead of spending for this point in the FY. Katie says that there are a few one time expenses that throw things out of whack, but overall everything is looking to be on track. Jail has expended more than usual, but that is because many repairs are being done right now. White mentions that jail report reflects a falling off of prisoners from near 90 to below 50. Yesterday's totals were 67. Takes over 57, 58 to not lose money. Concern among commissioners re occupancy. 
Hernandez would like to know details on just how many it takes to make, break even or lose money. Patty says it's based on a few variables. Judge Bishop suggests looking back at last three months and doing an analysis of costs. 

County/district Clerk. 6514.50 collected. 635.80 state fees. 900.90 district fees.

Facilities manager/ golf course report: Sam Cobos. Report submitted in writing, passed. 

JP 1- skipped for now

Judge would like to see Capital Projects report: Ruben Carrasco. Reports that everything went well during these holidays, roads in good shape. Report accepted. 
Chispa Rd. Commissioner Aranda says road is in good shape, plenty of people in the NW area of road in county using it.

Airports manager report: Chase Snodgrass says that today's meeting times are a little different. Meeting today at 4:00 in Marfa. Presidio airport meeting tomorrow at 8:30 AM at Presidio airport.

Tax Assessor's Report: submitted in writing

Jp1: $17,901 for Dec. Judge Beebe stated that procedures regarding Sheriff's Office ticket blanks has been resolved. Now receiving tickets regularly from Sheriff's Office. 

JP2: $20,000 plus for Dec. Have processed two inquests thus far this year. Judge Bishop presents.

Presidio Fire report has been received. Presidio EMS report has not been received. 
Aranda says we need to let them know they need to send their report. 
White makes a motion to accept the Presidio fire report and note there is no EMS report. Judge seconded. Unanimous. 

Jail report: submitted in writing. Accepted

Sheriff's Office report: not submitted, no Sheriff's Office members here. White says that commissioners need to write down what to require in the report that must be submitted. Judge Guevara says that part of that report needs to describe how comp time is and/or will be dealt with. Aranda mentions that Sheriff's office is the only one accumulating comp time. They now have five total, Frances Garcia says even the reserves are getting time. Including PISD reserves-three officers. All accumulating more comp time, working. White says that we need to start requiring them to submit a report and a plan to remedy this situation.
Aranda says that he hears rumors that jailers, deputies want to leave because they are not being paid enough. We already have them a good paying raise several years ago. Katie and Frances says they are being paid well, Aranda says that if they want to leave they can,  they are being paid well compared to other workers in the county. 
Frances says the Sheriff lied about the reason for four jail workers leaving; two got fired, one left for better pay and one just left for personal reasons. Sheriff said they all quit for better pay. 

Discussion regarding outside agencies which have not submitted reports. Include Presidio library, probation services. Approved reports except for those. Some may not receive funding, as per commissioners court rules regarding disbursements to agencies and reporting requirements. Will write Presidio EMS a letter to get theirs in. 
White motions, Vasquez seconds. Unanimous

County bills and expenses:
Patty Roach would like line item transfers first.
Yes, Judge says, since some bills are contingent on line item transfers.

Line item transfers:
Judge's office: office supplies to Hill County software for yearly computer program fees
Jail repairs: multiple amounts for multiple items. Mostly small, no surprises. 
Hernandez moves to accept all line item transfers.
Motion made, but other issues brought up including tow hearing judgment for Sifuentes family in JP 1 court on tow hearing. Sending on civil hearing was Sheriff's office/County. Judgment was issued in favor of plaintiff for $435.00 of $700.00 total collected by Sheriff's Office for tow of car from Cordero's trailer park unattended death. Inquest of subject had been handled by Judge Guevara. 
Sheriff refuses to issue line item transfer for payment of tow hearing settlement. Second commissioners court meeting where Sheriff had been asked to submit transfer form but did not. Judge Beebe said that at the end of the hearing there were no objections to the settlement from either Sheriff or Sifuentes family and that County Attorney had been there and had no issues anyway. Hearing process had been preceded by personal issues between Sheriff's office and Mr. Sifuentes, as they had argued about status of car, tow, ownership, tow bill, etc. 
Judge Guevara recounted that the deceased person had not committed a crime and that no crime had been committed as far as anyone knows. Car was impounded by law enforcement (Texas Rangers assisting Sheriff's office investigation of death) because of blood on car. Car was on private property rented by deceased at Cordero's trailer park and was parked legally. Family had already suffered death, and was trying to retrieve deceased's belongings. Why put them through this? Judge says if she had the decision she would have refunded all fees to family, since tow was no fault of their own and they are grieving. 
Beebe says he understands that point but had to go by letter of the law in the tow hearing and that means that family is responsible for storage fees beyond notification of release of vehicle from investigation. Those fees totaled the $435 in judgment for plaintiff.
Beebe asks again what can be done since judgment was a court order and nobody appealed the judgment up to County court level within time allotted. Judge Guevara and Jim White say that failure to sign line item transfer constitutes contempt of court since it is a court order. Beebe asks if he should charge Sheriff with contempt of court. White says yes, that's what you have to do. Beebe says yes, I'll do it but I would rather not since I would prefer to be able to keep living in this town. General laughter. Some discussion regarding that possible scenario. Beebe asks commissioners and auditor Roach if there is a way to find another solution to this since he would rather not do this and send Constable Marquez (not in room, he is working as bailiff for District Court today upstairs in main courtroom) to arrest Sheriff. Perhaps send a courtesy letter to Sheriff first. Patty Roach goes to look at methods. Talk of commissioners making a line  item transfer on behalf of County. Frances Garcia confirms that the $700 received from Sifuentes was deposited into abandoned vehicle fund. Commissioners believe they can make that transfer. Patty checking. More discussion from commissioners with laughter about how they would rather put Beebe on the spot. 
Commissioner Vasquez asks Beebe whether he believes Sifuentes should receive all $700 instead of just $435. Beebe says he believes that Sifuentes family was satisfied with the judgment and will be happy just to finally get the money they were awarded at the hearing. Hearing was Dec 21st. Patty comes back and says that commissioners can do a line item transfer from abandoned motor vehicle fund. Commissioners opt for that option. Frances Garcia says check has been made out since the day of the hearing, ready to mail. Commissioners approve unanimously.

Bills: office space in Brewster County for District Court. Portion of space paid for by County. Cell phones for certain officials brought up. Commissioner Hernandez asks for cell phone audit/ list of people who have cell phones paid for by County. 
Virgie says that phone allowances have been paid and approved, but she doesn't recall any elected officials being approved for individual phones. Talk about Big Bend Telephone providing service in the future. Katie Sanchez says we're paying between one dollar and a dollar fifty per minute for long distance. OMB is working on a long distance audit. Hernandez says that all these little things add up, between phones and electric bills, etc. we really need to reduce and eliminate these things. 
Cheryl Calvert is working on phone issues. Deputies have cell phones, paid for by County, won't give out numbers. Commissioners not happy. Hernandez says the system is being abused and we need to stop it. 
Mona Garcia, citizen, comments as an observer, wants the County to call AT&T and read then the riot act. $100,000 a year for phone calls?! This is ridiculous. Commissioners agree. Frances says they have put in a call with a protest, waiting on a reply.
Bills approved.

Minutes from prior meeting. Sent via email. 
Beebe asks for minutes to be emailed to him as well. No objection from County Clerk or commissioners. Discussion re: minutes being posted on County website following approval. Likely required. Some discussion. No objections. 

Adjourn at 12:45 PM

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

AFM Guidelines for Air Travel with Musical Instruments

Here's an unrelated post that may be relevant to those of us who occasionally travel with musical instruments.
I am still a  member of American Federation of Musicians, Local 65-699 Houston/Galveston and every once in a while I am offered a musical performance show where I have to travel by plane and take an instrument.
Back when I was a drummer, this might amount to cymbals and sticks, as nobody expects for anyone to fly with a complete drum set. Now that most of my shows are bass playing gigs, I often travel with one of my electric basses. Amplifiers are normally provided at the venue or through a local rental outfit since they are also prohibitively large.

I usually check my basses with regular luggage, using a hard-shell case with locks. I don't actually lock the locks because I have noticed that Homeland Security usually looks in the case and I don't want them to destroy it. Although I have an attachment to each bass I own, I never travel with a very expensive one since there's always a chance of losing it. So far that has not happened, thankfully.

Musicians who travel with rare or very expensive instruments should find this column helpful. It appeared in the AFM Musician Magazine a few months ago. DWB