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The Johnson County Commissioners Court addressed several issues related to the Johnson County Jail and a possible tire collection event during their Monday meeting.

Commissioners approved a contract with Coryell County to take in inmates from that county’s jail.

“They’re just beginning the process of building a new jail,” Johnson County Sheriff’s Office  Chief Deputy James Saulter said. “So they are overcrowded right now  and looking for a place to house some of their inmates.”

For Johnson County’s trouble, Coryell County will pay $100 per day per inmate.

“They’re also giving us a guarantee of payment for at least 48 inmates per day,” Saulter said. “So, even if the number drops below 48, we’ll still get that payment.”

Saulter added that Johnson County’s jail has room to accommodate that number of inmates.

Saulter replied in the affirmative when asked by County Judge Chris Boedeker if the jail has sufficient staff and resources to handle the expected influx of new inmates.

Staffing at the jail a little over a year ago was about 55 jailers short. Ten to 15 positions remain available, Jail Administrator David Blankenship said, but the situation has significantly improved since 2021 courtesy of billboard, social media outreach and other efforts to recruit jailers.

“To get that number down from what is was to only 12 or so short is a credit to the sheriff’s office,” Boedeker said. “Especially when you consider that many other counties and jails everywhere are still dealing with that issue.”

Funds realized from the Coryell County contract will also help offset overtime costs related to last year’s jailer shortage, Commissioner Rick Bailey added.

Commissioners also approved several requests associated with ongoing renovations at the sheriff’s office.

Work on the $2.7 million project, which began more than a year ago, is nearing completion. 

Commissioners approved Martin’s Office Supply’s $224,492,39 quote for furniture and furniture installation.

The company previously supplied furniture for the Guinn Justice Center and the Burleson Sub Courthouse.

Commissioners asked County Purchasing Agent Ralph McBroom and County Building Supervisor Josh Green to revisit the matter after an initial estimate for furniture caused sticker shock.

Through substitutions, McBroom said, county officials were able to cut the original estimate by about $50,000.

The furniture is not in stock and will take about 10 weeks to arrive, McBroom said. Green added that it’s important to lock the price in now because the company will soon increase their prices.

Commissioners also approved a change request from AUI, the construction company overseeing renovations at the sheriff’s office in the amount of $127,544.

The money will be used to address items unforeseen in the original scope of the project as well as other parts of the sheriff’s office not included in the renovation project. Such items include new carpeting and ceiling tiles, renovation of bathrooms to meet ADA standards and other projects.

“Anytime you get into a project you run into things you didn’t see or weren’t in the original contract,” Commissioner Kenny Howell said. “Since we’re already into the remodel and the contractor’s already there we need to just pick up and finish these items.”

Tire collection

The county will hold not one but four tire collection events in the weeks ahead.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments reached out to Johnson County and several county cities, including Cleburne, to hold such events. 

The individual commissioners will host the events at their respective precinct barns allowing county residents to bring in old tires for disposal and in hopes of cutting down on the amount of discarded tires county workers constantly collect from roadsides.

Tires only, Howell stressed.

“We need to be clear that this is just for tires and not tires mounted on wheels,” Howell said. “Before I was in office, the previous commissioner held one of these. Some of the people still working there were saying how it was a fiasco because people brought tires in still on wheels and the precinct workers spent all day getting tires off the wheels. So, we’re happy to help out with collecting tires, but if they’re still on wheels we’re not going to take them. We don’t have a tire machine or run a tire shop so I’m not going to subject my guys to breaking down tires all day.”

Howell otherwise voiced support for the collection event as did commissioners Bailey and Mike White.

“Hoping this will do a lot to help clean up and get rid of a lot of these old tires,” Bailey said. “If we don’t help people get rid of them we’ll just be picking them up from the roadways anyway.”

Such is a major headache, White added.

“Our guys picked up 40 to 50 dumped tires from bar ditches and the roadsides just this weekend,” White said. 

Times of the precinct hosted collection events remain to be determined but Bailey agreed to host the first event on April 1 with additional collections on April 8 at White’s precinct, April 15 at Commissioner Larry Woolley’s and April 22 at Howell’s.

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