Point of order: County Judge can make motions and vote with commissioners

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Wood County Judge Lucy Hebron started last Tuesday’s Commissioner’s meeting by making a statement during the public comments section of the agenda. 

“I am going to read something briefly; it’s just sort of a point of order. But this is an item that was brought up earlier in a regular meeting of this Wood County Commissioner’s Court concerning the role of a county judge,” Hebron explained. 

“By law, the county judge, when present must preside over the commissioner’s court, and as the presiding officer, the county judge is responsible for conducting all meetings. The county judge has equal voting rights, including the right to vote, the right to make or second any motion and the right to vote whether there is a tie among the votes of other court members or not. The county judge, or any member of this commissioner’s court for that matter, may, at his or her discretion vote or refrain from voting on any matter.”

Precinct 2 Commissioner Jerry Gaskill was surprised by Hebron’s move to speak during the public comments.

“The way the court is set up is with a five member court. If you go back to Robert’s Rule parliamentary procedure that’s how the meetings are set up. The reason there are five people is with the fifth person there cannot be a tie,” Gaskill commented. “The whole time I have ever been on the court, which is 17 years, the judge has only voted in a tie. That’s the way it has always been. I’m not saying she does not have a vote. This is the first time I have ever seen an official of the court say something in public comments. We need to remember it is named commissioner’s court for a reason. It is not named judge’s court.” 

In another matter, an update on HB 2840 regarding amendments to the Texas Open Meetings Act was given.

“These rules allow us to regulate public comments while conducting the business of the county here,” Hebron said. “The public’s participation is limited to that as an observer unless the member is recognized by the chair or unless the public participation form is completed and given to the office of the county judge prior to the hearing.”

Commissioners entered into a “Joint Airport Agreement” with the cities of Mineola and Quitman.

The agreement is an amendment from an original agreement on Dec. 11, 1978.

The operating agreement is with respect to percentages paid by each entity. Percentage obligations will now read Wood County 58 percent, City of Mineola 28 percent and City of Quitman 14 percent.

In all other respects, the Joint Airport Agreement remains the same and continues in full force and effect. 

In other action, commissioners approved an inter-local cooperation contract with the city of Mineola for street repairs and materials through Dec. 31, 2020.

The city will pay the county $60 per hour for the use of a motor grader; $50 per hour for back-hoe; $40 per hour for a dump truck; $40 per hour for a loader; $50 per hour for a boom axe; $100 per hour for a haul truck; current cost of oil sand; current county cost for base; and if Wood County furnishes materials, the city shall pay the cost of the material.

In personnel matters, County Agriculture Extension Agent Shaniqua Davis resigned her position and Abram Syphrett was approved as interim information technology director at an annual salary of $64,646. Melinda Nall was hired part-time in the tax office and Elaine Lewis was hired part-time in the elections office. Collin Kelbe resigned his part-time position in the corrections department.

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