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Upshur County court OKs judge's signature on land lease memorandum

By Christina Lane
July 16, 2012 at 11 p.m.

GILMER - Upshur County Commissioners on Monday authorized County Judge Dean Fowler to sign a memorandum of lease on the county's West Texas school land.

In a 3-1 vote, the commissioners agreed to allow Fowler to sign the document which will be filed in the county clerk's offices in Baylor and Throckmorton counties. Fowler said the memorandum of lease is a three-page shortened version of the county's 30-page lease. The document contains the parties and terms of the lease.

Pct. 1 Commissioner James Crittenden cast the lone dissenting vote because he believed all members of the court who signed the original lease should sign the memorandum.

"I don't think that the court should be giving up its duly-elected right for one member to sign off on a document," Crittenden said. "If what you said is correct, that this reflects the exact same contract we signed a couple of months ago. ... I think this document should have the same number of signatures."

Crittenden motioned to reject the memorandum of lease until it contained a place for all members to sign. The motion failed for lack of a second. Fowler noted that Crittenden opposed the first lease, and did not sign it.

The county owns about 17,000 acres of land in West Texas that it renews a lease for every five years. Commissioners approved leasing the land to Calthan Cattle Co. School land is property the Texas Legislature gave to each county during the 1890s to support that county's schools.

Upshur County has been receiving about $200,000 annually from Spade Ranches for the lease on the property. The county divides the proceeds each year among the school districts that lie partially or wholly in Upshur County.

Commissioners Lloyd Crabtree, Cole Hefner and Mike Spencer approved the memorandum of lease.

In other business, commissioners tabled a decision to consider replacing a window in the county clerk's office. The window was broken almost a year ago when a roof from a building across the street blew off and into the courthouse window.

Fowler said the county had received a bid of $11,740 from MMI Historical Restoration in West Texas for the work. Crittenden said he was not "comfortable" spending that amount of money on a window at this time. Spencer said he was in favor of getting estimates for a temporary fix.

Fowler noted that if commissioners do not spend the $18,000 they received from the county's insurance by Oct. 1 the money will fall into reserve funds. He also said the clerk's office is experiencing water and insects coming through the space.

"I don't think it should fall into reserves," Crittenden said, asking if the money could just roll over.

"You've been here eight years. Let me explain," Fowler said, clarifying that money in the county's general fund does not roll over.

Fowler told Crittenden the county can still spend the money, it would just be coming from reserves.

Commissioners voted to table the item.

The court also approved an interlocal agreement between the Upshur County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety to buy investigation supplies for things such as blood tests and urine tests.



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