Consideration of a full-time court reporter position for the Washington County Court-at-Law was on the docket at today’s (Monday) County Commissioners meeting.

County Court-at-Law Judge Eric Berg stated that the county traditionally hires part-time reporters. However, he said the state is dealing with a shortage of court reporters, saying “we’re losing them faster than we’re replacing them”.  He added that schools statewide are simply not producing as many court reporters.

Judge Berg said not having a reporter severely handicaps the county court-at-law, as it requires the district court to shoulder more cases, such as those dealing with Child Protective Services. He also said the county cannot advertise for the position until commissioners approve creation of it.

Law requires the county to provide record and appoint a court reporter, and it falls upon county commissioners to fund the position. Judge Berg said the general salary for the position runs from $77,000 up to $90,000, but this particular request is for $80,000.

Commissioner Kirk Hanath said he wanted more depth added to the job description Judge Berg presented, saying its current wording was very vague on what a court reporter’s duties were. Judge Berg said court reporters have more obligations than just reporting, and he wants to keep their duties at the discretion of the county.  Hanath said he doesn’t want to keep any secrets from job candidates.

Also on the agenda, commissioners approved a new three-year agreement with the Chappell Hill Chamber of Commerce, for the exchange of EMS services. EMS Director Kevin Deramus stated the department has a “great working relationship” with the Chamber of Commerce, with County Judge John Durrenberger calling it a “great collaborative effort”.  Chamber President John Wick said he is very appreciative of the department’s efforts.

In Emergency Management Coordinator Bryan Ruemke’s monthly report, he announced the county’s hazard mitigation plan has been approved at the federal level. He said all that remains to be done is to approve the plan in commissioners court.

Also in court, commissioners:

  • Accepted a bid from Wex for fleet fuel. County Engineer Ross McCall said Wex was the one responsive bidder out of five vendors the county reached out to.  This contract will allow the county to potentially save up to 6 cents per gallon from retail price, based on volume and usage.
  • Heard presentation from the county engineer on a preliminary plat of Woodland Farms, roughly 347 acres of land north of Chappell Hill at South Meyersville Road and FM 1155 South. McCall said the developer is aware of concerns on access and drainage, and that the developer has been in contact with TxDOT.  The developer is anticipating a permit soon.
  • Approved a right-of-way permit for the CHI St. Joseph Gran Fondo Bike Ride, taking place March 3rd.  Ruemke said the ride, which starts in Brazos County and has distances of 20, 40, 70, and 100 miles, is expecting to host 30 to 40 bikers.  The ride comes through Burton during the 100 mile ride.
  • Heard monthly reports from the constables, district and county clerks, justices of the peace, auditor, tax assessor, treasurer, and Fairgrounds Management.
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One Comment

  1. The average annual income in the United States is only $59,000. In Washington county that number is even lower because of the standard of living being cheaper. Last month we heard about the district attorney office being split was Burleson County which results in a lighter docket— we have the taxpayers are seeing no cost reduction.

    Now we have a new $80,000 annual cost proposal from the local bench.

    Thank you Commissionr Hanath for at least asking questions before spending all of this new money. We are two months into the new year and each month there’s a new reason to spend county taxpayers dollars. What will March bring us?

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