Hardin County Republican Women organization held their regular meeting on Monday, May 8. The meeting began with organization’s president, Janis Holt, welcoming county officials and updating the members on which elected officials are up for re-election next year.
It was brought to the attention of the members that Holt was chosen as Texas Senate District 3 Volunteer of the Year. She stated, “We’re all working together. I’m very thrilled to be representing Hardin County.”
Hardin County Judge Wayne McDaniel was the guest speaker and gave a state of the county presentation. “I think Hardin County is the best county to live within the state of Texas,” said Judge McDaniel.
He discussed the other elected officials and how well they all work together. He said that he truly believes that the elected officials in this county are here to work for the people of the county. There were four newly elected officials this year. McDaniel said they have been doing a great job and he is very proud to work with them
He briefly discussed the Hardin County budget and that he had made efforts to not allow the budget to increase substantially. When he began as County Judge, McDaniel said he made a request of county employees, “If it’s not something you have to have, please don’t buy it.”
He then highlighted Hardin County resources such as Big Thicket, Altus Emergency Room, and the two Walmart stores.
The status of the new county Annex Building was the next topic. He explained that the original building had severe mold and asbestos issues and it became apparent that constructing a new building was more cost efficient rather than repairing problems at the original building. In 2015, they decided to move forward with the project and began to find ways to fund it.
Judge McDaniel said they recently went out for a grant to buy the generator for the building which is at a cost of $100,000. He also stated that they have made cuts to the project to stay closer to the budget. The plan was to finalize drawings this week. Once the architect signs off on the plans then they will start on the foundation. He estimates that it will take 9-12 months to complete the building. As far as what will happen to the old Annex Building, there are two options; either someone purchases it or it will be torn down.
One of the more recent projects completed at the courthouse is the new phone system that has been installed. There were issues with the previous phone system shutting down. Justice of the Peace Melissa Minton was in attendance and brought up an advantage that the new phone system offers. Now county offices are able to transfer callers from one office to another.
Judge McDaniel asked the county’s Floodplain Administrator for data to share regarding permits for the last two years. Some of the permits include 465 mobile homes, 110 residential permits, six businesses, four oilwell sites, two communication towers, and three subdivisions. Those are permits within the county, not within city limits.
A report from the Sanitation/Health Inspector was provided as well. She inspects 275 food establishments twice a year.
An update regarding cases on the docket at the courthouse was given. Judge McDaniel said in January 2015, there are just under 2,000 cases on the docket. After working together, they were able to dispose of 3,117 cases and right now there are 900 active cases on the docket. The number of jury trials has increased each month and the number of days that they go to court has increased.
The topic of hurricane preparedness was discussed. Judge McDaniel suggested that people register with STAN (Southeast Texas Alert Network) for weather and emergency alerts.
He then opened up the floor for questions. A resident of Silsbee said her daughter drives for Uber and Lyft and asked why the service is not available in Hardin County. Judge McDaniel did not know the answer to that, however, he said he would look into it.
Another attendee asked the judge about evacuation and if the cities will be coordinated in their evacuation efforts. Judge McDaniel said they would be coordinating. Precinct 4 Commissioner Alvin Roberts joined the discussion, adding that two bridges are being constructed on Pine Island Bayou and access roads will be open. Another resident asked about the boat ramp and Roberts said the boat ramp will be moved off to the side which will allow them to have a better ramp and parking area.
As Judge McDaniel ended his presentation, he stated that the Hardin County Republican Women organization is, “The most active political club in Hardin County.” He thanked members for all the work that they do.
The organization is taking the summer off from regular meetings and has their next meeting scheduled for September 11.