County approves deputy constable position for Pct. 3

Approval is on a temporary period until Jan. 1, 2019

The Shelby County Commissioners on Wednesday approved Pct. 3 Constable Roy Cheatwood adding a deputy constable to his staff.

The motion to allow the additional staff on a temporary basis until Jan. 1, 2019, was made by Commissioner Charles Barr. The vote was unanimous with Commissioner Roscoe McSwain not in attendance.

“I've received a lot of calls both ways, probably about 50-50 for and against, some wanted it and some didn't,” Barr said of adding the deputy when proposing approval with a grace period.

Cheatwood said he has only heard from one person in the precinct who did not think adding a deputy was a good idea. While he said he works well with the sheriff's office and Texas Department of Public Safety, officers from those departments are spread thin and not always available in the precinct when he feels assistance is needed.

Barr, whose precinct includes the Joaquin area covered by Cheatwood, said he has received a lot of feedback both pro and con on allowing the deputy position to be added.

“I'm not trying to make everyone happy,” Barr said. “I just want to do what's best for our precinct and for the county.”

County Judge Allison Harbison said the temporary status of the approval for the deputy would allow for a trial period to see how the position works out.

Harbison at the Aug. 5 meeting questioned why the county should foot the bill for additional law enforcement in the Joaquin area when the Joaquin City Council voted down starting up a city police force. She said other incorporated towns in the county have accepted that responsibility on behalf of their residents without asking the county to ante up funds.

Harbison also said county leaders needed to look closely at such an expenditure because it was not budgeted and because it could open up similar requests from other towns.

“If we do this for one, if others come asking we’d have to consider their requests too,” she said. “We’re just trying to protect the county.”

Shelby County Commissioners on Sept. 5 approved accepting a donation of a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria from Kyle Allen to the Cheatwood's office. On Wednesday, Sept. 12, officials said they were waiting for action from the Joaquin City Council on allocating $400 a month to go towards gasoline for the car and the city's approval of an interlocal agreement with the county on details.

While Commissioner Bradley Allen last abstained from the vote because his son was the one making the offer of donating the car, the other three commissioners voted to accept the donation.

The approval to accept the donation took place after Cheatwood already had the car striped as a law enforcement vehicle for which he had spent $450 in funds that had not been approved by the county, Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison said.

You might have jumped the gun, but you had good intentions,” she said.

As part of the motion to accept the car, commissioners approved paying for $450 that Cheatwood already committed for putting law enforcement designation stripes on the car and an estimated $400 annually for liability insurance.

Cheatwood said he planned to use the car school zones to help slow down traffic and for other official business. He said the car has about 116,000 miles.

It’s in tip-top condition,” he said. Barr asked how gasoline for the car was going to be paid for since the expenditure of as much as $4,500 to $4,800 a year was not budgeted.

Cheatwood said he was told the city of Joaquin would amend the city’s budget to allocate funds for fuel. He estimated the car would use between $400 and $500 a month in gasoline.

Commissioners said they wanted to get additional information concerning the expense and potential liability associated with the request.

McSwain last week moved to table action on Cheatwood’s request for a reserve officer while the county’s attorney researched legal issues and the county’s liability on the matter.

In other business at the Aug. 5 meeting, commissioners approved extending the county-wide ban on outdoor burning. At the Sept. 12 meeting the burn ban was rescinded due to recent rains and more rain in the forecast, Harbison said.

In other action at the Sept. 12 meeting commissioners approved renewing a contract with Computer Information Concepts and payment of $4,600 for the renewal.

Weekly expenses and payroll were also approved at the meeting.

In a public hearing held immediately after the regular meeting, commissioners heard no public comments on the budget or the proposed tax rate of 0.7072 cents per $100 of property valuation for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.