Commissioners hear leasing proposal from Co. Treasurer

By Chris Edwards

After a presentation by County Treasurer Bob Dockens, Trinity County Commissioners decided to table a proposal that would lease a four-acre part of the property of the Trinity County Park to the Trinity County Area Go Texan Committee.
Dockens, who is a member of the committee, spoke of a need for a new covered arena that could be utilized in many ways, and not solely limited to county fairs and rodeo events. Dockens said that the committee wishes to bring in some people who have experience constructing rodeo arenas as to whether or not they want to pursue the option of taking the existing arena down to build a new one.The construction of a covered arena, which would include a concession stand and storage facilities and measure at 200x300 feet, would cost an estimated $500,000 to build, according to Dockens. 
Dockens, who said the idea for using the land to build a new arena had been in the loose planning stages for a couple of years, and that the Go Texan Committee, along with the Trinity County Fair Association, could obtain the funds needed to build the structure through grants and donations.
The property, which is owned by the county, is commonly known as the park at the “Y”. It sits west of Groveton at the merger of highways 94 and 287. In a lease agreement drawn up by the Go Texan Committee to present to the county, the Go Texan Committee (the “tenant”) would pay a dollar each year for “annual rent” to use and occupy the premises.
In the ensuing discussion about the leasing proposal, the absence of existing paperwork pertaining to the land was addressed with concern. Mention of a 99-year lease of land, including the plot proposed to lease, made in 1996, was brought up by Precinct 1 Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham. There was some recollection about the land being granted for use as a parking lot, which was donated by Champion International (now Georgia-Pacific). According to County Attorney Joe Bell, there is no formal agreement pertaining to the land or a leasing agreement that can be found.  
Precinct 3 Commissioner Neal Smith expressed support for the proposal, and stated that such a venue was greatly needed for events. Commissioner Smith said one of his goals was for Trinity County to have an events center large enough to accommodate people from throughout the county, however, he said he wanted to be sure there were no conflicts between the county and any organizations that might have an interest on the property before going further.
In an addendum item to Monday’s agenda, the commissioners voted to approve a proposal from Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors, Inc., to raise the existing 150,000-gallon elevated water storage tank in Trinity. According to the proposal, the tank will need to be raised 56 feet to make it even with the other water storage tank in Trinity, an imbalance that has proven problematic.
The repair to the tank would come at no cost to the county, however Precinct 2 Commissioner Rich Chamberlin expressed some concerns about an exclusion made in the proposal. Chamberlin said he’d spoken with Trinity Mayor Billy Slaughter about the issue, and the exclusion came up, which would release Phoenix Fabricators of any responsibility for any damages made to the land during the project.
The Commissioners approved a resolution to designate Grant Works as the planning service provider for the hazard mitigation fund project for the county. Andrea Wilson, a hazard mitigation grant specialist with Grant Works, spoke before the officials. Her firm was the only one to turn in a proposal to Trinity County, and the designation was awarded after a motion from Commissioner Smith and seconded by Commissioner Chamberlin.
Commissioners also approved during Monday’s meeting:
• A pauper funeral payment was approved for Rodney Heath.
• A bond in the amount of $5,000 was approved for Tammy Stone-Pursley, an employee in the County Judge’s office.
• The monthly report for the county’s income. According to assistant auditor Dan Fuller, tax collections are at 93% for the month of April, while overall collections are at 96%.
• The transfer of $700 from an inactive DPS fund to the Parks and Wildlife account was approved as a budget amendment. The funds will be used for camera equipment. Other budget amendments, which went approved, were for the purchase of a 2008 ¾-ton Chevy work truck for Precinct 1, at a cost of $7,500. The amount of $3,600 for road maintenance was transferred from Precinct 2 to 3.
• The renewal of Affordable Care Act Reporting and Tracking Service (ARTS) agreement with the Texas Association of Counties, in compliance with the annual information returns, was approved. This renewal of service is provided at no cost to the county.