The meeting was held on Tuesday instead of the usual Monday due to Memorial Day.

Compton requested an additional $52,000 from the county’s contingency fund to pay for what he said were unforeseen medical emergencies. The Commissioners unanimously approved the budget transfer.

At the beginning of the fiscal year, the inmate care budget was $90,000 and later increased to $111,000 after a refund from the sheriff’s department’s liability insurance company. Those funds have been exhausted, according to Compton.

The additional $52,000 raises this year’s prisoner medical care expense amount to $163,000, which he hopes will cover expenses for the remainder of fiscal year 2007.

“That’s still less than last year,” County Auditor Shelly Saunders added.

She noted in an interview Tuesday afternoon that last year’s prisoner medical care expense was $226,571.99.

Compton congratulated Saunders on her efforts to control this year’s costs.

As one example of what a jail must do in a medical emergency (and without going into detail) Compton said an inmate spent six days in the hospital, where staff recommended an extremity be amputated due to complications arising from diabetes. The inmate had previously lost one appendage in an amputation. He said the Texas Department of Criminal Justice stepped in and arranged for medical care so the county would not have to shoulder the cost.

He said there were no other line items in the sheriff’s budget from which to take additional funds from, and he along with Saunders agreed there was no other way to fund the rest of the year’s budget.

Compton said the Sheriff’s Office is already struggling with controlling overtime hours.

“We’ve saved all the money we can,” Saunders said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Steve Key asked Compton if there were ways to prevent future expenditures.

“I know there’s nothing we can do about emergencies ... but is there anything we can do at the jail to slow this down, such as additional nursing staff or something like that?” Key asked.

Compton said an additional night shift nurse may help in determining when a situation requires a trip to the hospital; thus saving money on unnecessary medical bills.

“We have to provide adequate medical care,” Compton reminded the Commissioners.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Hollowell said Saunders worked with Compton on reducing the costs of medication, and in finding other ways to combat the rising cost of prisoner care.

Compton said as of Tuesday there are 176 inmates in the Cooke County Justice Center — 44 of whom are from Parker County. Last week there were 192 inmates, total.

In other business, the Commissioners appointed Hollowell, Bill Bristow, Jim Farquar and Rick Kerr to a committee to investigate a possible use for the former Cooke County Jail, located at the corner of Chestnut and Pecan streets.

According to Hollowell, there is a possibility the old jail could be made into a juvenile detention center to house out-of-county and in-county juvenile misdemeanor offenders. The committee would have as its first assignment to investigate and report on the initial costs of such a project and how much revenue could be raised.

Hollowell said the idea is to create an alternative to Texas Youth Commission facilities for teens aged 15, 16 and 17 who are guilty of offenses lesser than felonies. The facility would operate under the Tri-County Juvenile Detention Center board.

“In my thinking, a small facility would be easier to manage,” Hollowell said, noting possible advantages.

In other business, the Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a preliminary plan for The Villas at Lake Kiowa, which could become Cooke County’s first town home or condominium development.

According to Laura Blanton, county building inspector, the current plan for the development is 10 buildings, nine of which would be “quadplexes” consisting of four, two-story apartments each.

If all goes according to plan, she said, the development would be for those 55 and older, and possibly would be marketed toward single females.

The site is located on 13 acres and would include a private road with access to FM 902. The property would abut Lake Kiowa neighborhoods but would not be a part of that community.

In other business, the Commissioners voted to table, and then later to approve, a bid from Culpepper Heating and Air Conditioning to replace the Cooke County Library’s air conditioning compressor.

Culpepper submitted a bid of $16,225 for a Carrier 20-ton compressor to be placed on the roof of the library.

The existing unit, a compressor installed in 1962 when the library was built, is slowly deteriorating, so insurance does not cover its replacement.

Kerr, the county maintenance director, said the new unit would be placed on top of the framework of the old one, as wiring, pipes and ducts are already in place.

In other business the Commissioners voted unanimously to:

• Advertise for sealed bids for the construction of a new Precinct 4 County maintenance facility.

• Accept the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council’s allotment of funds to Cooke County, which stem from fees from citations issued from evidence gathered by red light traffic observation cameras.

• Award a bid to Ken Cayce for two 500-gallon diesel tanks at $101 each from Precinct 1’s inventory.

• Approve the final plan for the Butler Subdivision No. 3 for two houses to be located off of County Roads 321 and 336 in Precinct 3.

• Proclaim June 30 as Booker T. Washington Alumni Association Reunion Day in Cooke County.

• Appoint an authorized representative for the Texas Local Government Investment Pool in the County Treasurer’s office.

• Authorize Public Power Pool to intervene in the TXU acquisition process, in hopes of preventing electric utility rate increases.

• Bond Kenneth Eisenamn, jailer; Nolan Wayne Hicks, jailer; and James Willingham, deputy sheriff.

The meeting adjourned at 11:13 a.m.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at andyhoguegdr@ntin.net

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