COVID-19 vaccinations are underway in Johnson County for first responders and free testing continues at the Cleburne Senior Center.
Although vaccines will soon become available to the general public, Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon, during Monday’s meeting of the Johnson County Commissioners Court, warned residents to continue practicing social distancing, mask wearing, frequent hand washing and other preventative safety measures.
“The virus is still very active in Johnson County,” Harmon said. “We’ve seen a slight decline in the overall number of cases but there’s still a lot of testing going on and our hospitals have exceeded the 15 percent level of beds used. It’s in the 17 percent to 18 percent area.”
Passing the 15 percent level forces closure of all bars in the county that do not also sell food.
“That state law and by the governor’s order, which overrides mine,” Harmon said. “Hospital bed capacity would need to fall below that 15 percent mark for seven straight days before the bars could reopen.
Harmon said that he had heard but not yet verified that vaccines were en route to H-E-B Grocery store and CVS pharmacies.
“The next step, after first responders, is to vaccinate senior citizens in nursing homes and long-care facilities and others with underlying conditions,” Harmon said.
Although vaccines should soon be available to the general public, Harmon cautioned all to not let up on safety measures.
“It’s very real this virus, let me just say that,” Harmon said. “I have a close friend whose wife passed away from it this weekend so everybody still needs to be very careful, cautious”
Harmon commented on the fact that COVID-19 affects or doesn’t different people in different ways.
“I still don’t think anyone knows enough about this disease to say how certain people are going to react to it,” Harmon said. “I did see on the news today where 99 percent of doctors asked in a poll said they intend to get vaccinated. So, while I know some have some concerns since these vaccines were developed pretty quickly, I think that sends word of confidence to the public.”
Problem land sold
Commissioners approved the sale of two adjacent tracts of land even though the bids on both fell below the amount of taxes and fees owed. The tracts, both part of the Brookhollow Addition, are on Farm-to-Market Road 731. Both were acquired in 2013 by Joshua ISD through a delinquent tax foreclosure.
The same buyer bid $15,000 for one tract, $14,000 for the other.
Harmon stressed that he’s no fan of accepting bids that fail to at least cover back taxes and fees but ultimately joined commissioners Kenny Howell and Jerry Stringer in approving the sale. Commissioners Rick Bailey and Larry Woolley did not attend Monday’s meeting.
Attorney Bruce Medley of Perdue, Brandon, Collins, Fielder & Mott, said previous attempts to sell the parcels resulted in one bidder who ultimately backed out. The current sale attracted only one bidder, Medley said.
“They’re a construction company who have a good record of buying lots and building new homes on them,” Medley said.
The problem, Medley and Howell said, is that gaining full access to the properties will require that the Texas Department of Transportation remove guard rails in place.
“TxDOT may not give that access,” Howell said. “So this buyer is taking a chance and there’s also good reason why there was only one bidder.”
The parcels in question sit within Howell’s precinct.
“That land is low with hard access,” Howell said. “Developing it is going to require tons of fill dirt and hoping TxDOT will grant access. It looks beautiful on a map but it’s going to be a lot of work involved. JISD wants to get rid of it.”
“I think we need to get [the parcels] to a new owner and get them back on the tax rolls,” Stringer said.
Commissioners approved County Clerk Becky Ivey’s requests to preserve and digitize various county records. An index of county births will be preserved at a cost of $6,335 while deeds and probate minutes will be preserved at a cost of $448,152. That , Ivey said, includes the conclusion of probate minutes preservation and county deed records from 1918 to 1941.
Both projects will be made under the State of Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Texas Multiple Award Schedule and both have been budgeted for.
Commissioners also approved purchase of archival shelving from Kofile Preservation at a cost of $6,543 with funds to come from the county’s record management fund.