Commissioners Court News Update
Each Wednesday the Shelby County Commissioners Court meets to discuss and make motions on issues that affect the citizens of Shelby County. Below is an update on current events and issues that have been presented by the Commissioners Court at past meetings during the month of July and August.
July 18 meeting:
Agenda item number four, a discussion and possible approval for new furniture for the courtrooms, jury rooms, attorney’s tables, and judge’s benches in the Shelby County Courthouse:
County Judge Allison Harbison presented the agenda item to the court and county commissioners. She explained about the condition of the items in question, stating that many of them were in disrepair and a need for new furniture was very much needed as soon as possible. The chairs in courtrooms have been in use for 30 years and are now seeing tears in fabric and breaking of pieces.
The total for complete replacement of the items mentioned comes to about $30,000. Money for the items would come from repairs and contingency accounts, which are included in the commissioner’s court county budget. Commissioner Bradley Allen made the first motion to approve the request, with the second coming from Commissioner Charles Barr; with none opposed the motion was approved.
July 25 meeting:
Agenda item number four, Shelby County resident Bobby Daw gave a report on the current state and improvements that would be coming to the Shelby County Expo Center:
He stated that he and his group had taken over the expo center as of Jan. 1. The concession stand is now up and running, but that they are in need of help with purchasing a dragger for the grounds, newer roping boxes for rodeo participants, and eventually new bleachers for the grounds, since the ones there now are old and in need of replacing. Daw also gave the commissioners a listing of their current funds including $20,000 that is left in the main fund for the expo center, and that they are looking to begin replacing the bleachers over time as funds allow.
Agenda item number five, J.C. Lewis; President of the Shelby County Historical Commission addressed the court and gave an update on Commission business:
Lewis began his presentation with information about what the Shelby County Historical Commission does in the community including locating items of historical interest all over the county. He stated that several local cemeteries have been given historical designation and that a facelift on the Center historic town square’s bandstand and adjacent building were close to beginning.
It was then stated that the Historical Commission is working on and participating in several fundraisers this year to bring much-needed funds to the commission for projects.
Lewis then informed the court that the historical commission is working on restoring the historic courthouse and its adjacent annex. They have also been in contact with state historical commissioners to receive grants to allow for the upkeep and renovation of said buildings.
He then informed the court of an upcoming project to move the Shelby County Historical Museum into the annex building on the town square since the current museum’s location is non-repairable. He states that he has contacted local schools to see if an interest in field trips to a new museum to create and keep a monetary stream would be something they would want to do and the schools have said yes, to help make it into a self-sustainable entity.
Lewis then informed the court that the annex and courthouse could receive a grant known as the Courthouse Program Grant to become an interactive historical museum, which would allow for much needed use and remodel of the building. The grant would cover 85 percent of the cost needed to remodel and create the museum, with the county having to cover 15 percent. They are currently working on a master plan for submission to the state for the grant, which would cost $75,000.
Agenda item number nine; Bobbie McDaniel addressed the commissioner’s court about the flag at the Sheriff’s Office:
McDaniel came to the court to address her concern that the trees to the front right hand side of the Sheriff’s Department were blocking sight of the American flag, which is on a large flagpole. She handed out a flyer with an image of the area that included the text,
“Our beautiful American Flags, verses the beautiful tree, you cannot see our flag’s because of the tree. I understand they cut the tree back. That didn’t solve my problem only messed up the pretty tree. My suggestion is to move the flagpole. It would be easy to do. It is on a concrete slab now. Just move the slab with the pole on it. Maybe to where the posts are now. The pole also needs to be painted! We want to be proud of our Shelby County. Sincerely, Bobbie McDaniel.”
After addressing the court, she was thanked for taking the time and coming forward to speak to the court by Judge Allison Harbison. Judge Harbison and the county commissioners then discussed ways to take care of the issue, with a decision made to search for quotes/bids to have the pole moved.
August 8 Meeting:
Agenda item number six: Discuss and consider reappointing Mr. John Howard for a two-year term as a board member of the Burke Board of Trustees representing Shelby County.
According to County Judge Allison Harbison, Mr. Howard has been an exemplary representative for the county as part of the Burke Board of Trustees.
“I know that he is at most all of the meetings and has great input for the county in that organization,” said Judge Allison Harbison.
She then asked the Commissioners if they had anyone else in mind for the position, and after a motion and second was passed by the commissioners, Mr. John Howard was reappointed to another two year term as representative of Shelby County for the Burke Board of Trustees.
According to the Burke Board of Trustee’s website, Founded in 1974 and originally known as Deep East Texas Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services, The Burke Board of Trustee’s were formed by the area’s county commissioners’ courts to make community care possible for citizens of this region. Burke is governed by a nine member Board of Trustees and has been accredited by the Joint Commission since 1980.
Burke serves a twelve county region, providing mental health and developmental disability services to over 10,000 people each year. The organization’s namesakes, Ward and Anna Belle Burke, were tireless advocates for persons with mental illness and developmental disabilities and were instrumental in making community care possible in Texas.
Counties served by Burke include Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler.
Agenda item number seven: Discuss and possibly take action on the current burn ban.
With little rainfall dropping in the last week, County Judge Allison Harbison and commissioners decided to leave the burn ban in effect until the next weeks meeting when they would reevaluate the need for the ban yet again. Commissioner Charles Barr started the motion and commissioner Roscoe McSwain made a second to leave the burn ban in effect.
Agenda item number eight: District Clerk, Lori Oliver to present proposal on new case management systems for the District Clerk’s office and Jury Management.
District Clerk Lori Oliver came forward to present to the commissioners and those attending about the need for new case management software systems for the office of the District Clerk and Jury Management.
“I am here today to speak to the court to ask your permission to switch from our current case management system which is Serenity and KelPro over to IDocket,” said Lori Oliver.
She then goes on to state that there are currently problems that have arisen in the past that would be much easier to handle with the new IDocket system.
“Technology continues to grow and do amazing things, we have also been doing things here at our location that others do not do, but I think that we have outgrown our system,” said Oliver.
She then explained the advantages to the new system would include system integration for all offices that use the software at the Shelby County Courthouse and District Attorney’s offices. Another advantage would be less expensive over a five-year period when using the new system and a savings of $26,336 with no need to pay a fee for each user.
The current system used by the District Clerk and the Shelby County Courthouse has had issues in the past including technical issues, and a hacking by a Russian Dharma Ransom-ware when the Shelby County Courthouse was using the same system to be able to work remotely.
“They found a remote access point and went into our server,” said Oliver. “They took our entire court record for 20 years hostage and demanded Bit Coins for the return of the records.”
What then saved the records from ransom was the fact that the software company KelPro had a backup of all of the data in a remote server located in Oklahoma, and was able to get the records back to the Shelby County Courthouse and clerk’s office in a timely manner.
“Had it not been for that we would not have known what to do,” said Oliver. “They were even in control of the computer mouse’s, but we had a backup and with the help of Jason Fulbright and the companies we use, we were able to get back up and going.”
Oliver then told the court that the new software system they are looking into also has a backup to keep their information safe just like with the software they have now. The commissioners took no action after the presentation on the agenda item.