By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Commissioners Court discussed steps to adopt a policy regarding indigent burials during a workshop last week. The topic was discussed but tabled as an agenda item during the regular commissioners court meeting following the workshop, on Monday, Jan. 13.
Melissa Riley, of Riley’s Funeral Home in Woodville, spoke on the topic during the public comments portion of the meeting.
Riley said her business has been assisting with indigent burials since 1985 but wanted to know where the county stands on the issue. “There is no indigent care as far as anyone deceased in the county. I just need to know what to tell these families from now on,” she said.
Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette referred to a telephone conversation he and Riley had concerning the subject, and following a consultation with the county’s legal counsel, realized the need to put a policy in place.
Courthouse project discussed
In a previous meeting, on Dec. 23, 2019, Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock addressed the need to make a distinction, when paying bills pertaining to the courthouse remediation project work, between the required work and the recommended work, the latter of which falls under the heading of rehabilitation.
During this meeting, an invoice from architect Dohn LaBiche was discussed. The invoice billed the county for both types of work on the project, which Sturrock noted included work that was separate and optional from the remediation work required by the Texas Historical Commission. He recommended that any issues pertaining to courthouse rehabilitation be looked at separately and undertaken only after the necessary or mandated steps were completed.
Kay Timme spoke on the topic at last week’s commissioners court meeting and said the architect has since provided a revised invoice which itemizes the type of work. “We’re continuing to study the numbers,” Timme said. The figures on the invoice came out to $25,181 in required work and $8,903 in recommended/rehabilitation work. The revised invoice, which was tabled in its original form last month, was approved to be paid by the county, with the money to be paid from a courthouse remediation line on the budget.
“I would really like to see us stop on the optional work and focus on the required work,” Sturrock said.
• Sturrock proposed a change in the county employees’ handbooks to reflect elected officials’ terms, with benefits to begin at 24 years instead of 25. Additionally, he recommended the wording in the handbook be changed from “employee” to “employee/elected official,” which was approved.
• Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford was on hand to inform the commissioners that his office is taking over baliff duties for the courthouse.
• The county approved a bid for Affordable AC Services to maintain the air conditioning systems in all county buildings.