Henderson County Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to renew the contract with a company that handles medical care for prisoners.

Sheriff Botie Hillhouse credits the decision to employ Southern Health Partners with stopping the steady increase in medical costs that had been occurring at the jail.

"In 2009, the medical costs were $512,000," Hillhouse said. "In 2010, when we entered into the agreement with them, the cost was $348,000."

The new deal calls for the county to pay $432,000, still well below the amount spent a decade ago when the county provided the medical attention. The contract renewal goes into effect on Oct. 16.

According to the Southern Health Partners website, the company was established in 1994, offering customized inmate healthcare programs within county jail systems in over 250 facilities across 14 states.

The contract is based on 350 inmates in the jail. The county pays a per-diem for meals above that number. Hillhouse said the jail has an average daily population of 366 inmates per day this year.

In other action, Commissioners granted a request to allow Henderson County Extension Agent Carolyn Tyler to travel out of Texas to attend the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The conference is set for November 3 through November 7.

Last year, Tyler was president of the Texas Association of Extension 4-H Agents. This year, she will again be going as an officer.

"I am now serving as the Southern Region Director for the Association and as such I am required to attend the national conference," Tyler said.

Commissioners also approved:

• the sale of a Dura Patch trailer to Road and Bridge Precinct 1 from R and B Precinct 2:

• appointing Precinct 2 Commissioner Scott Tuley to the Animal Shelter Advisory Board and

• payment of bills totaling $401,452.82.

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