Wednesday afternoon saw a special 1:30 p.m. assembly of the Young County Commissioners Court. The main purpose of the meeting was to accept bids for county insurance providers, road materials and culverts.

Besides insurance offered by the Texas Association of Counties (TAC), there were no other bids from outside insurers. Casilda Clarich, risk management consultant for TAC gave a rundown of costs during the meeting, providing an assessment stating that rates overall have only gone up roughly $1,100 since last year, however, workers compensation premiums had diminished to the point that the overall cost of insurance for the county will remain roughly the same for the coming year's policy.

The county accepted TAC's bid for renewal of insurance, as well as the bid from ConTech for the county's culverts. There were three bids put before the commissioners court for a road materials contract, one from Zack Burkett Co., one from TexRock Industries and one from E&A Materials, Inc. After several minutes of deliberation, the court voted to accept the bid from Zack Burkett.

The issue that continues to divide the court remains that of the old county jail building, and at Wednesday's meeting, after several minutes of debate, it was established that County Attorney Dayne Miller would submit a formal opinion on the matter of Local Government Code, chapter 263.152, which describes the procedure authorized by law for the disposal of salvage or surplus property.

County Judge John Bullock said that he spoke with James P. Allison, General Counsel for the County Judges & Commissioners Association of Texas, on the matter.

“I've described the issue to Jim Allison, a very knowledgable person who has been with the county government for a long time,” Bullock said. “He said it sounds to him like it's surplus or salvage property, and he recommended that we get a formal opinion from the County Attorney. What I'm hoping for is to be sure the court is substantially complying with the law with regard to 263 (of the Local Government Code).”

Bullock said that he expects the building to be torn down no matter what, but that his ultimate goal is to remain compliant with the law, and that he doesn't believe the county commissioners are currently in compliance with the law.

After making an inquiry to Allison last week, Bullock shared Allison's response with The Graham Leader: “From your description, it appears the county is attempting to dispose of salvage or surplus property. Under section 263.152 of the LGC, a competitive bid or auction is required. I suggest that a written opinion be obtained from the county attorney before proceeding further.”

Commissioners Matt Pruitt, Jimmy Wiley and Mike Sipes, the three who voted in favor of tearing down the building, did agree during the meeting to allow County Attorney Miller to issue a formal opinion on the matter, but expressed frustration toward the delay of the demolition.

Attending the meeting was Tristan Hine, a representative from Matrix Demolition. Hine maintained that despite the year-old age of the contract initially forged between his company and Wiley, the price for the salvage style demolition would remain at $37,400, and said that the price was “very competitive.”

Commissioner Mike Sipes stated several times during the meeting that he did not agree with the interpretation of the LGC salvage material law provided by Judge Bullock, and after the meeting stated that this was a clear delay tactic from the judge.

“The problem here is that we're trying to improve that real estate,” Sipes said. “We own that ground and we're not relinquishing that lot. We have never said anything about destroying the lot. We're trying to improve the value of that lot, and to add something there of more value to the citizens of Young County. And I understand that the judge has a different opinion. That's fine. But the vote was three to one to zero to demolish the building.”

He added that he has also heard unofficial positions from members of the TAC as well as the office of the attorney general.

Read the entire story in the weekend edition of The Graham Leader.