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Meeting gets contentious

Portions of last week’s meeting of the Jeff Davis County Commission got contentious. And it appeared lack of communication was the culprit.
Former Road Department Head Eddie Bush was on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting with a simple question yet it was difficult to get an answer. Bush had been asked to help with drainage problems in the Owlhead Community. He said he sent the county a bill for $400 but was only paid $200. He asked if the commissioners had discussed the matter.
Bush said he ditched and bedded four roads and again asked if the commissioners had discussed the matter. Commission Chairman Hank Hobbs replied that, no, the commissioners did not vote on it because they knew nothing about it.
Bush said he was asked by Commissioner Ricky Crosby to go to the Owlhead Community to tell Crosby and Road Department employees how to cut the ditches in the area to relieve drainage problems.
Commissioner James Emory Tate told Bush he gave him permission to fix the problems at a particular house, “…. not to fix every road out there.”
Finally Commissioner Crosby made a motion to pay Bush the other $200 but Bush insisted he didn’t want the money, he just wanted to know if the commissioner “even discussed” the matter.
Bush also brought up what he considered a dangerous situation with a gas main on Yankee Paradise Road.
Tate asked, “So you don’t want your $400?”
When Bush replied, “No,” Tate replied, “Then if I were you I wouldn’t worry about the other.”
With that, Bush left saying, “I’m through. Ya’ll don’t call me to help y’all out again.”
But that wasn’t the end of the contentiousness.
When Road Department head Dewayne Stone brought up the fact that his department is five employees short and two motor graders short, and despite the shortages, Jeff Davis County’s schools operated as usual after a series of heavy rains that forced the closing of schools in neighboring counties.
“We’re doing the best we can do, but until we get more people hired and perhaps lease some motor graders” problems will persist. He recommended the county lease two motor graders.
Crosby made a motion to give Stone the authority to lease additional graders. Before a second to the motion was obtained, Commissioner Vann Wooten spoke up, asking, “Why don’t we have the bids to vote on tonight?”
Chairman Hobbs pointed out that the matter was not in the discussion phase because there was not a second to the motion. Commissioner Tate then seconded the motion and Wooten said, “Now, I want to discuss it. Why don’t we have the bids to vote on?”
He pointed out that, in a Sept. 28 called meeting, the commissioners agreed to ask for bids and he thought they would vote on those bids in the October meeting. Yet there were no bids to vote on.
County Administrator Heather Scott replied, “That was my fault. I gave them an extra week (to submit bids). “I apologize.”
Wooten also shared that he got an email from John Deere and wanted to know if the county had paid them yet, to which Scott replied, “No.”
Wooten appeared to still not be happy but the group voted unanimously to approve the lease of two motor graders.
They also approved allowing Stone to look at his department’s schedule to allow employees to work on Fridays to operate the motor graders.
There were other road issues discussed during public comments. Barbara Ingle expressed her concerns about Ray Road, saying she was concerned that ambulances would be unable to drive on them after a lot of rain in case of an emergency. Mrs. Ingle showed the commissioners photos of the road, adding that, “At one time, we actually had fish swimming across the road.”
And Denton City Councilman James Thompson Jr. shared his concerns about the Denton city Cemetery and Annie Reed Cemetery. He asked the commissioners to consider paving the entrances. Thompson added that employees of his business, Thompson Lawn Care, have been doing upkeep at the cemeteries at no charge. But he is paying his employees when they work on the cemeteries, at a cost of $600-$700 a day. He also asked the commissioners for help paving the road from Denton Cemetery to the Douglas Highway.
In other action, the commissioners ….
…. heard again from William Wasmund who gave a summary of his opinions on voting machines. He added that he wanted to be on the agenda for the county’s November meeting to give a 40-minute presentation.
…. reappointed Hobbs to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Board.
…. heard from Commissioner James Benjamin about a pipe leaking on Willy Hunt’s property.
…. heard from Crosby who asked for an update on the Emergency Medical Service. Crosby asked if the county had any extra money to offer signing bonuses to help get more employees.
…. met in closed session. After the session, the commissioners agreed to hire three new road department employees and approved adding a potential Joint Development Authority employee to the county’s health insurance program.

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