Commissioners split over new jailer hirings
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–Following a 75-minute discussion, the Henderson County
Commissioners voted 3-2 to hire 12 new jailers to staff the newly
expanded county jail Tuesday.
While the commissioners have known the jail expansion would require
additional personnel – and built funds for those new employees into the
current budget last fall – there were questions about when the jailers
would be needed, and when the county might be able to see some income
from out-of-county prisoners.
Jail Administrator Lt. Ben Kinder asked for authorization to begin the
hiring process, noting the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) is
tentatively scheduled to inspect the jail Thursday, June 5.
Currently, the jail has 81 employees, with 59 floor officers, Kinder
reported. “That includes one open position,” he added.
Once the new expansion section is cleared by the TCJS, all prisoners now
held by the county (about 200), along with those prisoners held in
out-of-county jails (currently 42), can be held in the new section while
the current jail is being remodeled, Kinder said.
“It will take one or two weeks for the hiring process,” he added. “We’re
hoping to train (the new employees) to handle a pod in two weeks. Full
training will take six to eight weeks.”
A pod holds 48 prisoners, and under TCJS rules, a full staff is needed
whether the pod is full or holds only a couple of prisoners, Kinder
said. The new expansion will boost the area officers need to cover by
50,000 square feet, he added.
Kinder said he was hoping to finish a staffing assessment for the
remainder of the jail in the next week or so.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West recalled the court was told an
additional 24 jailers would be needed during budget talks last summer.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said he noted a discrepancy in the
proposed budget and the actual budget, adding the budget he was looking
at was dated Dec. 17, 2007.
“I was under the impression we budgeted for 24,” county judge David
Holstein added the discrepancy McKinney might be referring to was the
difference between the annual salaries for 24 positions, and staffing
costs for nine months, the anticipated period of actual need.
Those 24 jailers would cost about $630,000 for a full year, compared to
about $480,000 for nine months, Holstein explained.
“With these 12, that will bring our out-of-county prisoners back,”
Kinder said. “We’ll probably look at having that (staffing) talk later.
Producing revenue (from out-of-county prisoners) will be dependent on
that other staffing.”
Some jailers are need to cover “security breaches” during the remodeling
of the existing jail, Kinder said.
He explained “breaches” were areas where prisoners might be able to get
out of the building, such as through a temporary wall, during the
“When the renovations are done, they can be rolled back into the jail
staff,” Kinder said.
“We’re also putting together a sales presentation to track out-of-county
prisoners,” Holstein said.
The county needs to have everything in place, including contracts, in
order to start generating revenue as soon as possible from holding
out-of-county prisoners, Holstein said.
“We’re not going to bring in other counties’ prisoners until we’re
finished, and I don’t expect that (revenue) until after the first of the
year,” West said.
“We’re shooting for (accepting prisoners) Sept. 1,” Holstein said. “So,
we’ll have this discussion on full staffing in another four weeks.”
“I would say we are not interested in out-of-county (prisoners) until
we’re operational,” McKinney said. “Handling our own people is our first
“Would eight people do the job?” Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall asked.
“We could start with eight, and if that’s not enough, we could come back
later,” Kinder said.
“You need to give us a time line on when you’ll need these officers,”
Holstein said. “We need to plan to be operational Sept. 1.”
McKinney said he wanted to table the hiring request for more
information, but Hall pointed out, “This is a time-sensitive issue.”
“We are going to need some right now,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny
Lawrence agreed. “I think they (the sheriff’s office) are trying to way
overstaff, but we do need to get started hiring.”
“I want all your stacking options, so the court can make a decision on
the most economical way (to staff),” McKinney told Kinder.
“We’re going to need 12, and we may not have them hired quickly,” West
said. “If you approve 12 (jailers), 12 are not going to be on the
“We’ve known we were going to need 12 for two years,” West added.
“They didn’t tell us until today they were going to bring in
out-of-county inmates,” McKinney said.
“That has nothing to do with the 12 they’re going to need,” West
“If the jail can handle 288 and we only have 200 Henderson County
residents, we need to fill those 88 beds,” Holstein said.
West made the motion to hire 12 jailers as requested, and Lawrence added
“All of this conversation is very valid, but it’s going to take weeks to
hire these folks and get them trained,” Lawrence explained.
West, Lawrence and Holstein voted in favor of hiring 12, while McKinney
and Hall opposed.
In other business, the commissioners:
• approved agreements with the cities of Payne Springs and Tool to
assist in drainage maintenance and road repairs.
The three-year agreement with Tool is in its final year, Hall noted.
• approved a revised dedication plaque for the new jail, which added the
names of the architectural firm (Burns Architecture of Fort Worth) and
the construction firm (Templeton Construction of San Angelo).
• accepted bids on overlay paving, janitorial supplies and mat service
• paid bills totaling $889,292.03, which included $410,000 on the jail
Council considers new seal and flag
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–Any revisions to the city’s seal and flag should come
after as much citizen input as possible, the Gun Barrel City Council
Two new council members, Melvin Hayes and Kevin Banghart, also assumed
their seats during Tuesday’s regular council session.
On the agenda’s final item, councilman Todd Hogan submitted a proposed
drawing for a revised city seal and flag, noting he did not intend to
make wholesale changes.
The original city logo was provided by the Texas Railroad Commission,
while the city’s original flag – actually a tapestry – was designed by
Loretta Taylor back in 1976, Hogan reported.
Mrs. Taylor’s design was accepted by the city council July 12, 1976, and
Hogan said he wanted the seal and flag to remain close what had been
approved in the city’s early days.
“I want to give credit to the people who have done such great work in
the past, like Mrs. Taylor,” Hogan said.
Similarly, the city’s motto – “We shoot straight with you” – was
credited to Timbertrails addition resident Jim Malone, who won $50 for
the slogan in 1975, according to newspaper reports.
“I want to try to build what has already been established,” Hogan said.
“This rendering is just that – a rendering.”
“The flag of our country changed as the country grew,” councilman
Charles Townsend said. “Maybe it is time to bring this up-to-date.”
“I would think before we could do anything, we need to set up a
(citizens) committee,” councilwoman Kathy Cochran said. “I don’t feel we
can adopt this tonight.”
“I agree,” Hogan said. “We need more community input.”
If the city does develop a new seal and flag, the adoption should be
handled by an ordinance, city manager Gerry Boren said, “so it doesn’t
get lost in a minutes order.”
Council members voted unanimously to take no action on the proposal,
pending more citizen input.
In other business, the council:
• heard Boren report a recount of the May 10 balloting for Place 2 on
the council had been requested by write-in candidate John Earl Gregg,
who paid the required fee.
The recount, conducted by Boren, city secretary Christy Eckerman and
three citizens, found Gregg actually received two fewer votes than
originally noted. Hayes was elected to the Place 2 seat, 74-39.
Council members accepted the recount and approved an amended ordinance
declaring the results official.
• witnessed city judge Jack Holland swear in Hayes and Place 4 winner
Banghart. Townsend was selected as the mayor pro-tem.
• discussed two items in the consent agenda at length, the financial
report and the Economic Development Corporation report.
Cochran questioned street supervisor Mike Horton about street work
funded with tax money diverted from the EDC, and Townsend questioned the
status of the S.O. Sportsplex project, partially funded by the EDC.
Following the discussion, the council approved those items as presented.
• heard Boren report work would begin on a bridge replacement project on
Welch Lane either Tuesday, June 3, or Tuesday, June 10.
The three-phase, $150,000 project will take 30 to 45 days to complete,
and will require drivers to detour off the existing road while new box
culverts are installed, Boren said.
Drivers will be very close to workers, so the speed limit in the
construction area will be 10 mph. “We will have signs and barricades
up,” Boren added.
ECC adds final stage clarifier
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District water and
wastewater projects in the planning stages since 2005 finally are coming
Dredging Prairie Creek Cove was recently completed, and now another
project at the North Wastewater Treatment Plant is well underway.
The district’s utility permit is dependent on the success of both
The $1.04 million third-stage clarifier project anticipates completion
sometime in July.
It is a key and final element of a mechanical process to reduce the
levels of phosphorus in treated wastewater being discharged into Cedar
The discharge permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
(TCEQ) sets new limits for phosphorus levels in discharged treated
ECCFWSD’s previous permit only required recording and reporting
phosphorus levels, which averaged about 5 to 6 milligrams per liter
(mg/l), district general manager Bill Goheen said.
Under new TCEQ rules, the district’s new permit, which the utility holds
now on a conditional basis, requires phosphorus levels to be reduced to
1 mg/l or less in discharged wastewater. That’s a five-fold reduction,
Goheen pointed out.
“Phosphorus is a nutrient which aides in the formation and reproduction
of algae, which is becoming a problem in many reservoirs throughout the
nation,” Goheen explained.
Currently, the ECCFWSD includes a phosphorus-reducing chemical when
“It has reduced the (phosphorus) level considerably, and at times we are
below the 1 mg/l (limit),” he said.
However, the results have been inconsistent, due to other factors in the
treatment process, he added.
When the third clarifying tank is on-line, it will add a final stage in
the process. Phosphorus-reducing chemicals will be added to the water as
it leaves the primary clarifier on its way to the secondary clarifier.
The water then travels to the third (new) tank, where the results of the
chemicals’ work is measurable.
In the third clarifier, most of the phosphorus will separate from the
water molecules and sink to the bottom. The clear water (with less than
1 mg of phosphorus per liter) is then skimmed off the top for discharge
back into the lake from whence it came.
“We are looking forward to having the new tertiary clarifier completed,
so we have the capability to be in full compliance,” Goheen said.
Red River Construction completes forms for a tertiary
clarifier at the North Waste Water Treatment Plant May
22. When completed, the tank will make it possible for
East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District to comply
with stricter discharge standards. Completion is expected in July.
tykes get bikes
Monitor Photo/Lynn Dyba
Two outstanding Tool Elementary students from each grade level, pre-k to
grade, won bicycles as end of year awards Tuesday. The winners are (left
Jade Gonzales, Jack Cantrell, Trey Long, Brenna Dixon, Taylor Long,
Maggie Alberda, Austin Long, Alina Shoemaker, Rawling Dixon, Katy
Logan Lukens, Miranda Webb and Dylan Wilson. All outstanding students by
level were included in the drawing. Principal Bill Morgan expects Tool
to be rated as a Recognized campus by Texas Education Agency.
earned commended ratings on TAKS tests, many multiple times. See more
on Tool Elementary in Thursday’s issue of The Monitor.