Hempstead County’s first Quorum Court meeting of the year was a somber occasion after the recent loss of District 5 Justice of the Peace Olen Dorman, who passed away Wednesday, January 15.
Dorman, an Army Veteran and Reserve Deputy for Hempstead County, served on the Quorum Court for more than 16 years. His seat was missing from the table for the first meeting of 2020, a visual reminder of his absence and the void his passing has left.
J.P. Jessie Henry stood in its place as he led the Court in prayer to start the meeting, asking God’s comfort for Olen’s family, for comfort and healing for J.P. Troy Lerew Sr.’s wife and asked His guidance for the Court as they move forward to serve the interests of the citizens of Hempstead County.
As for the county’s business, the court dealt with upcoming changes to the county’s employee handbook, an altering of the agreement between the city and county regarding dispatch???? and the first two resolutions of the year, both having to do with J.P. Olen Dorman.
Declaration of Court Vacancy
The first resolution of the year (2020-01) was announced to be reserved while the language was finalized regarding J.P. Dorman. The first resolution passed for the year is actually the second on the books (2020-02) declaring a vacancy on the Court. It declares that J.P. Dorman served the citizens of Hope and Hempstead County as an admirable and respectful human being and that a vacancy will exist as of January 16, 2020 due to his passing and opened the way for a Justice of the Peace for District 5 to be appointed. The Resolution passed unanimously. Judge Crane said that in respect for Dorman’s family, he isn’t rushing to appoint someone to the position but that he has had several good recommendations that he will be vetting to serve out the remainder of his term.
Agreement Between City and County Regarding HPD Expansion
The Court voted to approve an agreement between the City of Hope and Hempstead County regarding the expansion of the Hope Police Department. The agreement expands on previous agreements between the county and city from 1992 and 2002 that dealt with the construction, operation and occupation of the jail facility where the city waved its portion of a 1.5 cent sales tax that went to funding the construction and operation of the facility for space for their offices and operations within it.
In the new agreement, the City of Hope agreed to cover the costs of expansion of the facility to provide more room for the Hope Police Department’s use in the building and their control of their area within the Law Enforcement Center that house the Hope Police and the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office.
The expansion of the HPD’s section of the building was approved and started in 2019 and the Hope City Board voted to approve the new agreement during their meeting last week. The construction mirrors, from the outside, the expansion the Sheriff’s Office made several years ago to their side of the building.
The agreement continues the synergistic relationship between the two governments and their law enforcement. The two share a building while the County provides jail services for the city’s inmates and the city provides dispatch services for the county.
Formation of Committee for Employee Handbook
Judge Jerry Crane announced that J.P.’s James Griffin, David Clayton and Ed Darling will be on the committee looking at changes to the county’s employee handbook. The Judge said that several department heads requested to have input into the changes to look out for the interests of the people who work in their departments.
Courthouse Sales Tax, Transparency and Town Halls
Judge Crane to the Quorum Court members that he appreciates all that they do and said the county needs to move forward and that it is vital for the county and will be a good thing for the county and the city to get the Courthouse completed and relocated. He thanked them for their support for the county employees and said that it important for all of them as part of the county government to be completely transparent and available to the members of the community in everything they do on behalf of the county. Judge Crane said that the townhalls about the proposed sales tax and the special election are an important part of that transparency. He recommended the J.P.’s consider holding meetings in their districts at least twice a year to speak to their constituents and hear their concerns, ideas and to be available to answer their questions throughout the year.
The Judge and several J.P. have been attending civic clubs to discuss the tax and election with the people and held their first town hall meeting in Deann last week. He said that most of the people they have spoken with are supportive of the tax and they will continue to meet with the citizens to share all the information they have about it and to answer their questions.
If you are interested in attending, the next town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 28 at Hempstead Hall.
Town Hall Schedule:
January 28@ 6 PM – Hempstead Hall
January 30@ 6 PM – Spring Hill Fire Station
February 3@ 6:30 PM – Fulton Community Center
February 4@ 6 PM – Bingen Community Center
February 11@ 6 PM – McNab Community Center
February 13@ 6 PM – Southeast Fire Station
February 18@ 6 PM – Blevins City Hall
February 25@ 6 PM – Washington Fire Station