Equipment maintenance to be priority for county road, bridge
by Dan Kleiner
Dec 08, 2010 | 572 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Blading road surfaces, shredding, hauling materials, and performing maintenance on equipment accounted for 64 percent of the total work done by the Karnes County Road and Bridge Department during the past fiscal year.

County Road and Bridge Administrator Jeff Wiatrek presented the County Commissioners Court with his department’s 2009-2010 Annual Report during their regular meeting November 30, a 297-page document that logs the daily work history of the department from Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010.

In the “Future Considerations” section of the report, the department expresses wishes to hire a full-time mechanic “to perform maintenance and repair work on county vehicles (and equipment).” The work categories “Mechanic Equipment” and “Truck/Unit Maintenance” accounted for a combined 20 percent of all work listed in the report.

“This is a very good report here,” Pct. 4 commissioner Stormy Rossett said. “It’s well done and everything is covered.”

A large map displaying county road work done over the past fiscal year greeted visitors to Karnes County Commissioners Court November 30. Wiatrek presented the department’s annual report at the end of a light agenda for the court’s regular meeting.

The report outlines auction sales, road sign replacement, and chronicles the daily work history of the department. The Administrative Summary lays out the recent history of the road and bridge department while addressing future needs.

“The Karnes County Unit System was voted in by Karnes County voters, the responsibilities and duties of maintaining county roads were then transferred to an administrator as of November 2008… The commissioners are no longer responsible for county roads in their precincts. The first appointed Karnes County Road and Bridge Administrator, Sammy Smith, positioned the unit system well on its way to providing adequately maintained roads and improved accountability with regard to taxpayer monies.”

The report continues, “As of Mr. Wiatrek’s employment the road and bridge unit system has consistently developed and continues to progress toward a structured method of road maintenance… To replace material that has not withstood all weather conditions and is difficult to travel, along with road drainage from previous years and now added damage from oil companies. It is a gradual process for the fact that issues pose setbacks such as lack of manpower, reliable equipment and many roads needing better material.”

The report lists a total of 7,850 work orders received during the past fiscal year, split into two districts. District 1 comprises county precincts 1 and 4, while District 2 comprises county precincts 2 and 3. District 1 received a total of 3,812 work orders while District 2 received 2,847. District 1 received 59 percent (3,501 items listed under “Work Done”) of the work done listed while District 2 received 41 percent (2,400).

The report also lists “Additional Duties” performed by the department, which include 123 actions listed under “Community Service” (mainly with county commodities food donation programs), as well as assistance at the county’s recycling center and animal control facility. Examples of additional work done include installing phone lines at the dog pound, moving voter boxes during elections, performing carpentry and maintenance for county offices, filling in to feed dogs and performing maintenance at the dog pound, and assisting the county animal control officer with loading and unloading heavy bags of dog food.

The road and bridge department also auctioned off 11 pieces of machinery on April 24 for a net income of $41,325,80. These vehicles were considered to be “immobilized and too costly to repair.”

The “Future Considerations” section of the report states, in bold-faced, underlined type, that as a result of the unit system, the “budget line must be updated.” It also mentions that an administrative assistant for the department was hired in May of 2009.

During Wiatrek’s presentation to commissioners, he noted that the department would like to purchase a brush cutter tractor for approximately $60,000. He said the value of the tractor is actually closer to $90,000, and noted it would have bulletproof glass on its back and one side.

Wiatrek also mentioned that many oil companies have stepped up to aid the department, though he noted not all currently operating in the county are helping. He also mentioned during his presentation that the department is currently working on a school bus route in Choate that is presenting difficulties for Pettus ISD.

“By the time they (oil companies) get done, some of the roads are in as bad of shape as when they begun,” Wiatrek said. “ConocoPhillips, they have really stepped up to help us.” 

In other action, commissioners:

n granted an easement and right-of-way to AEP Texas Central Company to lots six and seven, block 22, in Karnes City for the purpose of furnishing electrical power to the courthouse annex building. “It’s a standard easement, it looks fine,” county legal counsel Ross Fischer said.

n authorized the use and approved a 10-year lease of approximately 2.35 acres of land behind the Wal-Mart building to the Karnes County Peace Officers Association for use as a firing range. The county’s prior lease to the Association expires December 10, and the county signed a new lease for a charge of $1 per year. “I appreciate that,” sheriff David Jalufka said.

n authorized county judge Alger Kendall to negotiate the terms of an oil and gas lease with Burlington Resources, a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, for 2.35 acres on the Hugh Swift survey, the same piece of land as the county firing range. The lease is a one-year term and will net the county approximately $19,000. The lease will be a no-surface agreement at a minimum $3,500 per net mineral acre. “I think it’s good,” Rossett said.

n heard citizen’s comments from county treasurer Vi Malone and community member Marsha Albair, both in reference to the county’s animal control facility. Malone requested to be appointed to the animal control board seat currently occupied by Rossett. Rossett did not seek reelection to commissioners court in the November election.

Albair also expressed interest in helping at the facility in any way possible. Media outlets in Karnes County, San Antonio and Austin reported on the deaths of two dogs at the facility on November 16. The county has since assigned additional help at the facility and said no disciplinary action will be taken against anyone involved with the facility’s care.

“We need to move forward on everything,” Malone said.


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