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County still trying to fill dead animal void

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Surplus items return $4,800

By Brandon Mattingly

A part-time position to handle dead animal pickup in Washington County remains unfilled after months of searching, and Washington County Fiscal Court is weighing its options on how to find someone to occupy the vacancy.

The opening with the road department was recently filled for a short time, but county officials said at last week’s meeting that the job wasn’t occupied for long.

“As you all recall, we had advertised twice and received no applications,” Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles reminded the magistrates in attendance. “We had somebody come in and ask about the position, and at the last meeting, we agreed to give him a try.”

Just a few weeks later, fiscal court met again and, once again, the vacated position was part of the meeting agenda. In the absence of a part-time employee, full-time members of the road crew have been asked to share the duties in the short-term.

“We’re still at the point of tying up a full-time employee, and as you all know, we had hoped to have a part-time employee to work on a kind of on-call basis to pick up our dead animals,” Settles said. “So, we’re back to square one.”

Settles encouraged the magistrates to make contact with anyone that might be interested in the position, and noted that since the county recently changed trucks, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is not required for the job.

Magistrate Morris Sweazy wondered if it would be feasible to hire an extra full-time road department employee, whose duties included dead animal pickup. Settles said it’s been considered, but that managing the hours for the county’s current workforce can already be a challenge.

“Dale and I have discussed it, and there are a few times throughout the year that you need another employee or two, but there are many times during the year that you have one or two too many,” he said. “You’ve got to balance that out.”

Fiscal court approved an increase in the advertised pay for the position in April — from $9 per hour to $9.50 — after no applicants came forward before the initial deadline.

Washington County Road Department Supervisor Dale Mann said the county has between 300 and 400 dead animal pickup calls per year, averaging out to around one pickup per day.

Surplus items
Fiscal court listed 15 surplus items recently, which resulted in roughly $4,800 for the county. Among the purchased items were:

• 1992 Freightliner truck - Purchased by Ray Johnson for $2,126.

• 2000 Chevrolet Blazer 4x4 - Purchased by Chad Warner for $508

• 1996 Chevrolet pickup 4x4 - Purchased by Benjamin Settles for $559

• 16-foot tri-axle trailer - Purchased by Ronnie Huntsberger for $556.14

• 18-foot tandem axle trailer - Purchased by Jude Hagan for $701

• Husqvarna weed-eater - Purchased by Albert Wimsatt for $55.

Also auctioned off were various pieces of concrete and stone blocks, which totaled $70. Magistrate Benjamin Settles abstained from approving the sell of the items, having been listed as one of the bidders.

Other notes
• The most recent audit of the Washington County Clerk’s Office returned no deficiencies.

• Mann noted that both of the county’s tractors are running and have been used for mowing throughout the county in recent weeks. He also said ditching and other work was ongoing in East Texas.

• Judge Settles announced that the county’s anticipated FLEX agreement was expected to be finalized last week, dependent on the state approving the roads that have been selected for work in Washington County. Details of the agreement could be available in time for this Friday’s meeting.

• Emergency funding for the project on Hardesty Road is expected to be provided to Washington County Fiscal Court pending a formal request. The county road crew repaired the road and creek bank earlier this year following heavy rains. Emergency funding is an 80/20 funding model, with the state providing 80 percent of the cost, or an estimated $45,000.

• Judge Settles said county road aid money is anticipated to be awarded on time, coming some time in August.

Not in attendance was District 5 Magistrate Billy Riney, Jr. The next regular scheduled fiscal court meeting is this Friday at 9 a.m. at the 1816 Courthouse building.