New Pct. 3 J.P. office eyed at current site

After 14 years in cramped quarters in the One-Stop Center, Judge Twila Harris’ Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace office may finally get a new building large enough to hold a court session.

Milam County commissioners on Monday called for bids on a new JP Court Building to be located on the grounds of the One-Stop Center, Main at Bell.

Bids must be submitted by 4 p.m. Sept. 24 and will be opened at the Sept. 27 commissioners court meeting.

Fire station

Precinct 3 does not have a justice of the peace courtroom. Harris said trials are held at the Rockdale VFD Fire Station, located three blocks away at the corner of Bell and Wilcox.

“When there is a trial, or pre-trial heading, we first must find out if the fire station is available,” JP clerk Lillie Griffin told The Reporter.

During the trial or hearing, one JP clerk is at the fire station and the other remains at the One-Stop Center. Documents are shuttled back and forth.

“The J-P docket can get pretty full,” Griffin said. “We’ll have 25-30 hearings in the course of one to two months and some of those will lead to full-fledged jury trials.”

More court duties

There are more JP court duties which require additional space.

Griffin said civil small claims court is a part of JP duties along with periodic license reviews.

“The state will mandate review of some driver’s licenses,” she said. “Many of those can be held at our present location but the next review will include 15 persons.”

Harris was one of the original tenants of the One-Stop Center, a former super market which was remodeled in 1996 to house federal, state and county offices.

The Precinct 3 J-P office shares a reception area with the alwaysbusy Department of Health and Human Services.

Harris’ office is also an early voting location. Frequently, early voting lines back up well into the reception area.

County Judge Frank Summers said the purpose of Monday’s action is to seek a cost estimate to see if such a project is feasible.

Indigent health payments

In other business commissioners court accepted a new payment for inpatient indigent health care payments.

Commissioners had previously been alerted that the county has reached its budget threshold and had to suspend payments until the following fiscal year.

Under the new payment method, governed under a percentage standard, the county would pay a flat percentage of every bill, not under a diagnosis related group (DRG) system in which pay is under a schedule assessing fees expected for specific treatments.

Commissioners were told the change aims to save the County money without hurting patients or providers.

Commissioners also proclaimed July 12 as Farm Bureau Citizenship Day, honoring Farm Bureau youth, and set July 18-24 as Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week.

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