Washington County Sheriff Otto Hanak is displeased with the lack of resolution in getting a permanent generator for the Washington County Sheriff’s facility and jail.

(courtesy Washington Co. Sheriff's Office)

The county has taken several steps since March 2021 to attempt to replace the jail’s old generator, which was described by county officials as a money sink to keep running, and at one point was deemed unfit to pass inspection after a check by the fire marshal.  However, a long-term solution has not come to fruition, and the jail has been using a temporary generator since December 2021.

Hanak said the process has been “a long, drawn-out nothing”, and feels the county has been “throwing good money after bad”.



In March 2021, county commissioners approved an order to purchase a natural gas generator outside of the normal bidding process because, according to Hanak, the old generator was “a detriment to the facility itself”.  The court approved the purchase of a generator from Zenith Power Systems for $335,286, but in June 2021 would vote to rescind the item from the agenda and approve a contract with MEP Engineering for generator engineering services.

In September 2021, commissioners agreed to allow MEP to advertise for sealed bids on behalf of the county for a generator.  They then voted in November 2021 to purchase a diesel generator from Flying V Rentals for $757,394 using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

However, in January the county approved an agreement with Project Control of Texas, Inc., stating the county’s previous procurement policy during the bid process did not qualify for ARPA funds.  Through the agreement, Project Control would review the county’s procurement policies and procedures to ensure the county’s bid process fit the guidelines for ARPA funding.  Commissioners then officially rescinded the generator purchase in March, the most recent court action on the matter.

Hanak says the longer it takes to secure a generator, the more it will cost.



According to Hanak, the sheriff’s office has paid $200 a day since it began renting the temporary generator in December.  The emergency generator runs critical needs at the facility, and is not meant to provide heat or cooling in the event power gets knocked out by a winter freeze or hurricane.

County Judge John Durrenberger noted that the rental is being paid for with Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, and that taxpayers are not footing the bill.  He added that the county “spent a lot of money trying to keep that old generator running, probably as much as we’re spending on this backup generator.”

Per Durrenberger, the engineering services from MEP are being used to develop a system of staggered switches to prevent the generator from being overloaded by demand all at one time.  He said the firm is writing specifications for the switches and the county will go out for bids once they are complete, but he could not provide a timeline for when that might be.

Durrenberger said once the county decided to apply ARPA money toward replacing the generator, the process “really got bogged down” because of the rules and regulations needed in order to qualify for funding.  That being the case, he does not want the taxpayers to be responsible for paying for the generator, and said while it will end up taking longer by opting for federal funds, the result will be “well worth the wait”.

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  1. sounds like the county is taken lesson on how to spend money from the city officials.

  2. “The emergency generator runs critical needs at the facility, and is not meant to provide heat or cooling in the event power gets knocked out by a winter freeze or hurricane.” I have read this article three times and can yet to understand what prompts the need for a generator at a jail that size. Surely the City of Brenham electrical department and Bluebonnet Electrical Co-Op can provide enough amps to that location to sustain its needs during normal usage. If the generator was needed for emergency situations, I could see that, but for undisclosed “critical needs”, I cannot.

  3. I think the media should call the Judge’s office and ask for him to clarify his statement about not costing the taxpayers anything. I’m sure he’ll say it wasn’t local taxes, blah, blah, blah, but what a stupid thing to say. Out of touch, just like all the rest of them.

  4. Apparently Judge Durrenburger pays no taxes at all! I’m curious to know where he thinks CARES monies come from.

    1. “County Judge John Durrenberger noted that the rental is being paid for with Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, and that taxpayers are not footing the bill.”

      Hey judge, taxpayers are paying for the CARES ACT money to! You are wasting our money!

  5. Bidding was correct
    You do not need to hire firms and pay them money to replace an existing piece of equipment. The reputable generator companies such as the city uses will come and look at what you need replaced and help you put together what you need. Check out Loftin Equipment from Houston , Texas and they will be more than happy to help you, but the long wait time is correct, look for at least a year before you will get one.

  6. The Sheriff needs equipment vital to his operation quit stalling and get him what he needs. The EMS wants pie in the sky and you start trying to find it for him. Just do the job you were elected to do if you can not resign cause you will not get a second chance come next election. Taxpayers are also voters equal your Boss.

    1. Exactly…the whole EMS program is through the roof…if they said we need a 2 million dollar helicopter it be here in a flash…but the department that tries to keep peace is constantly restricted.

  7. Looks like our local politicians are just as fiscally inept and irresponsible as our national politicians.

    1. You got that right! Valuations of our homes skyrocketing with no proof of why is the number one bottle rocket(pun intended).

  8. Durrenberger really said that (CARES) Act funds means that “taxpayers are not footing the bill.”? Where does he think CARES Act money comes from?

    1. Most federal money is borrowed from itself using Social Security as a ponzi scheme or from China and then is paid back with the printing press. The money then gets filtered through umpteen different makework bureaucrats’ offices before arriving in our community. Do not send it back where it came from. It’ll still get spent, only just somewhere else and probably on something far more wasteful.

  9. Hey county Judge Durrenburger, the TAX payers are still paying the bill whether the money comes from
    Cares Act funds or ARPA or the tooth ferry. We need new leadership in the Judges office and commissioners court. Smoke and mirrors is what they are good at!

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