Athens Review, Athens, Texas

March 5, 2013

Bail-bond Board?

Commissioners discuss possible creation of one

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The Henderson County Commissioners Court discussed the possible creation of a bail-bond board during a workshop following the regularly-scheduled Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

Counties with a population of 110,000 are required to create a bail-bond board. Although Henderson County, with just under 80,000 residents, falls below that threshold, Sheriff Ray Nutt and County Treasurer Michael Bynum told the court a bail-bond board is needed here.

“What we’re trying to do is create a board to regulate phases of the bonding business here in the county,” County Treasurer Michael Bynum said. “They will have to submit applications to us, and there will be a $500 fee that goes into our general fund.”

Out-of-county individuals have cost Navarro County a large amount of money with questionable bonds, and it will probably save the county money to regulate who is able to bond out prisoners in the county, Nutt said.

According to the Texas Occupation’s Code, certain officials are designated to be members of the board.  The list includes the sheriff, a district judge, the county judge, the district attorney, a justice of the peace, the county clerk, the county treasurer and a criminal-defense attorney.

The board will be responsible for supervising the bail bond industry, and implement appropriate rules. The board will conduct investigations and hearings concerning bail-bond licenses. It will have authority over issuance and suspension of bail-bond licenses.

Henderson County had a bail-bond board in the 1980s and 1990s. County Clerk Gwen Moffeit told Commissioners that by the 1990s, the meetings of the board had become contentious and unproductive.

During the regular meeting, Commissioners Court took action to enable Precinct 1 Commissioner Scotty Thomas to make repairs needed, due to the closing of a historic bridge on County Road 1500 over the Union Pacific Railroad. 

The Commissioners declared a budget emergency in order to add $50,000 to the Precinct 1 budget to pay for the project. The $50,000 is already in the county’s possession in the form of a check sent from Union Pacific in November.

In 2011, Union Pacific told the county of its desire to close the 100-year-old structure, rather than spend $750,000 or more to repair it.

Commissioners also accepted a $50,000 payment from Union Pacific, as part of an agreement between the railroad and the county, concerning the closure of Thunder Bridge. Union Pacific officials closed the 100-year-old structure, because it was too dangerous for crossing, and the estimated cost to repair it was between $750,000 and $1.5 million.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Scotty Thomas said so far, little has been done other than place barriers at the bridge. Former Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall stated in 2012, that a cul-de-sac large enough for an 18-wheeler to turn around is needed at the location.

In other action, commissioners voted to:

• approve the request of the Child Welfare Board to allow the purchase of a $500 laptop computer, $200 for ink and $300 for rubber storage containers;

• authorize four tax-refund checks totaling $8,240.16 from County Tax Assessor Collector Milburn Chaney to property owners;

• appoint Joe Ed Smith, Pat Frazier and Linda Brown to the Henderson County Hospital Board;

• appoint Lee Tackett, Charla Hendrix and Charles Elliott to the Henderson County Fair Park Board;

• approve an interlocal agreement with the City of Log Cabin;

• approve an interlocal agreement with the city of Star Harbor; and

• approve payment of bills in the amount of $220,989.46.