By Chris Edwards
The issue of the open-carry law and how it applies to county buildings was addressed again during the commissioners’ court meeting on Monday, January 25.
Trinity County Judge Doug Page said that he’d visited with district judges, and wanted to reiterate his original proposal, that weapons should be banned from all facilities associated with the court. “You can’t put a price on safety,” Judge Page said. County Attorney Joe Bell said that current law already prohibits the open carry of firearms within county courthouses, a law that was not retooled with the broad open carry law that went into effect, statewide, on the first of the year. Bell suggested a resolution be drafted to reinforce the existing law.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Neal Smith suggested consulting different county judges to see if they were also in unity with the stance. Smith said he was concerned with possible litigation costs if a weapons ban were implemented in the courthouse.
The matter was tabled until the next meeting of the court, and Bell was instructed to pen a resolution pertaining to it.
Larry Grant with the Trinity County Crimestoppers was on hand and spoke during the public forum portion of the meeting. He told everyone present that January is “Crimestoppers Month,” and informed the audience of all that Crimestoppers does in the county.
Rev. Jack McMahon of First United Methodist Church in Groveton also spoke on behalf of the upcoming Civil War re-enactment in Groveton. He noted that over 800 area schoolchildren will come to Groveton to witness the event, and asked if the commissioners could see that the roads used to bring people into town could be as smooth as possible. Precinct 1 Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham said that the commissioners would do anything they could to help with the effort, but that the roads’ condition was an issue for the city of Groveton to see to.
Judge Page noted that tax collections for Trinity County were at 42%, when reviewing the monthly report from county auditor Bonnie Kennedy. The collection of taxes was also noted by treasurer Bob Dockens when he gave his specified activity report that the county had an excellent month in terms of revenue with the bulk of it coming from taxes collected.
Commissioners approved a budget amendment to move money from the contingency fund to pay Susan Waller, the director of the Trinity County Museum. Waller’s pay has been taken from the county’s hotel/motel, but a shortage in this fund was noticed. The amount of $16,500 was approved to be moved from the contingency fund for Waller’s salary.
Commissioners also approved another budget amendment for the purchase of a 2014 Caterpillar excavator for Precinct 4. Commissioner Jimmy Brown spoke of the need for the excavator in his precinct, which will cost $49,300. Judge Page asked if there were other avenues that could be pursued to acquire the excavator, such as rental. Commissioner Smith reaffirmed the need for the equipment and said that his excavator is used weekly in his precinct and that Commissioner Brown has had to borrow it in the past. Judge Page opposed the measure, which was ultimately approved by the commissioners.
In an addendum to the Monday morning agenda, the commissioners discussed bids presented by Sheriff Woody Wallace for three patrol units. Sheriff Wallace brought bids on both Fords and Chevrolets and said there was about a $2,000 difference between the two with Fords being the cheaper vehicle. Wallace said, however, that the aluminum frames in Ford vehicles was worrisome. The commissioners reviewed the bids that were presented and approved the financing of the patrol units pending more information.
With no other business to discuss, the court adjourned until its next scheduled meeting for Monday, February 8 in the commissioners’ courtroom of the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton.