AgriLife 'jumping in with both feet'
The Hopkins County Commissioners Court discussed regular business and AgriLife update at their regular Nov. 23 meeting, among other items of business.
After opening at 9:03 a.m. with an invocation, the court unanimously approved the previous meeting minutes.
The court then unanimously approved a request to place electrical power lines at County Road 4707 in Precinct 4. Pct. 4 Commissioner Joe Price stated it had “nothing to do with the solar farm.”
The court opened themselves to citizen comments, although no citizens presented themselves for comment. County Judge Robert Newsom noted for the record that a representative from the office of state Sen. Bob Hall was in the audience on that day.
The court unanimously approved a request from Brinker Water Supply to set a meter on County Road 2377 in Pct. 2.
The county unanimously appointed Tawlene Lampp to the Hopkins County Civic Center Board.
The court unanimously postponed closing a portion of County Road 3602, given that notice of road closure needed to be up 20 days and 20 days had not yet elapsed, according to Pct. 3 commissioner Greg Anglin.
The court did not have any monthly reports apart from AgriLife.
The court did not have any budget amendments or line-item transfers.
The court unanimously approved their biweekly financials.
The court unanimously approved a contract with the Como volunteer fire department. At present date, the county has received and accepted five of 11 contracts from VFDs. Contracts are due Dec. 1.
Hopkins County Fire Marshal Andy Endsley presented a request to partner with Fastenal for key fob entry and supply tracking. The request was unanimously approved.
The court unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding between the court and the Ark-Tex Council of Governments (ATCOG) which allows ATCOG to manage any projects in the 2021 fiscal year for which they receive federal grants. This is the standard yearly procedure, Newsom noted. ATCOG currently has many operating projects in Hopkins such as e911, TRAX busses, homelessness prevention grants and more.
The court unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with the hospital district in order to provide a contract to the pandemic response local health authority nurse.
The court unanimously approved for the district attorney's office to sell their lobby couch.
AgriLife delivered their report to the commissioners court. Johanna Hicks reported that it was “same song different words because of the pandemic,” and noted that while in her role she still pursued education in health, wellness, nutrition and diabetes prevention, she had to change some of her delivery methods due to COVID-19.
“Our youth plan went off beautifully, but we did have to change some of it,” Hicks noted. Instead of AgriLife’s much-beloved Kids Camp health and wellness summer session, Hicks served as a guest lecturer for SSISD’s summer camp series for nine sessions.
“It was very well received,” she noted.
Diabetes education moved online, but Hicks said she found that difficult as some of the participants lived in rural Titus county with little internet availability. From then on, Hicks began to mail out paper packets of her presentations, which she believed was more effective.
According to AgriLife, due to their dispersion in many communities in the state, the governor’s office has put them “on standby” to help with distribution of pandemic supplies and test kits.
“We’ve delivered a lot of PPE to daycares,” Hicks noted. “We’re doing our part to keep people safe.”
“The community, you’ve heard from them, they’re very appreciative,” AgriLife’s Mario Villarino added.
Villarino said that due to COVID-19, AgriLife is moving ahead only now to schedule upcoming events such as livestock shows and 4H events, which in normal years they would have scheduled the previous spring.
“This summer is still in the process, but we’re doing it the best we can,” said AgriLife assistant Jessica Taylor.
“4H had to come to a standstill… as we tried to figure out how we were going to keep the activities going ,” Taylor said. “Fortunately we put a plan together and we are going to keep all the activities, we’re just going to modify them.”
Cumby ISD newly inaugurated their first chapter of 4H as part of the EduNation program, Taylor noted, and “basically the whole school will have a 4H class,” she stated.
“They jumped in headfirst and they’re ready to get started,” Taylor said. “They’re very excited, and it’s new for all of us.”
Taylor also noted that numbers of swine, steer and chickens are soaring for Hopkins County 4H entries.
AgriLife has also recognized Newsom at the state level for his support of programming, and Villarino and Hicks congratulated him for this award.
Taylor reported that AgriLife has re-stationed her to Lamar County, where she will be moving in January.
The county discussed other items, such as economic agreements with several companies. For more, read "Commissioners strike business agreements across trade sectors."