By MARY RAINWATER
Anderson County commissioners approved a resolution for the replacement of county bridges and discussed financial issues regarding utilities in county right-of-ways during their first regular meeting of the new year on Monday.
The resolution (R-1-2014) between the county and the Texas Department of Transportation allows for $60,000 in Equivalent Match Structures funding for the replacement of five Anderson County bridges — one of which, located on ACR 2933 in Precinct 2, washed out during heavy rains in November.
While the $60,000 matching grant was obtained primarily for replacement of the bridge on 2933, matching funds will fund the replacement of four others in Anderson County — two bridges in Precinct 3, one bridge in Precinct 4 and a second bridge in Precinct 2.
According to Precinct 2 Commissioner Rashad Q. Mims I, that second bridge, located on ACR 2133 — known as the Mack Creek bridge — will be replaced.
“That bridge was on a list for repair in 2018, but we are trying to get it done earlier,” Mims said. Regarding the 2933 bridge, Mims reported that a temporary bridge will be put in place for use by school buses and other residential vehicles while construction is taking place.
Later during the meeting, Precinct 4 Commissioner Joey Hill questioned District Attorney Doug Lowe about what actions to take regarding a utility company, CenturyLink, billing the precincts for damage done to underground phone lines in county right-of-ways.
According to Hill, in several instances, the lines have been cut when doing repair work in the area including a recent road wash-out where he “had no choice” but to cut the lines.
Other times, when calling the “Call before you dig” hotline, the lines were marked but were not located where they were marked or were not the required 16 inches below ground and were still cut by county workers.
The precinct was then billed by CenturyLink for the cost of the repair.
“I just wanted to find out whether we should pay these or not,” Hill said, with other commissioners admitting that they had faced the same issues with CenturyLink.
Lowe said that it had been pretty consistent in the past that if the lines are not marked properly or made visible by the company, then the county would not pay these bills, which have been for as much as $6,000 of late.
“If we did wrong, we should pay. If we did not do wrong, then we should not pay,” Lowe said.
Hill reported that in another incident, CenturyLink sent the claim straight to the insurance company, who paid the claim with no prior approval from the county. In that case, Lowe said that the insurance company should be notified when a claim is being filed.
Currently there are about $14,000 in bills to be paid for cut lines, and Lowe instructed that those be filed with the insurance company with the recommendation that the claims be denied. He and commissioners also agreed to meet with local CenturyLink representatives to discuss the issue.
Also on Monday, commissioners:
• APPROVED bills.
• APPROVED bid for pug mill for the mixing of oil sand for the year 2014.
• APPROVED the Regional Juvenile Reimbursement Program contract with East Texas Council of Governments.
• APPROVED the certification of the Anderson County Detention Center.
• APPROVED declaring a 2001 Ford and 1990 GMC Suburban as surplus.
• APPROVED an amended Anderson County Annual Road Report for Precincts 1, 2, 3 and 4.
• APPROVED a land use agreement for Precinct 1 Road and Bridge Department between Anderson County and the Oscar Starr Estate.
• APPROVED a land use agreement for Precinct 1 Road and Bridge Department between Anderson County and Jim Bishop.
• HEARD a presentation Richard Haws, Loss Control Director for Texas Political Subdivisions, regarding accident investigation and return-to-work policies.