At its regular meeting Monday, the Henderson County Commissioners Court denied a claim from Embarq requesting the county pay for damage to several of the company’s cables.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said eight months ago the county had paid Embarq a claim for damages which he believed the county was responsible.

Of the new claims, however, he said his work crews were not working in the areas where the cables were reportedly cut.

In addition, McKinney said the county should be contacted and notified of the location of new cables.

“In Kaufman and Smith counties, they come before commissioners court before they lay lines,” McKinney said.

County Judge David Holstein suggested McKinney write a letter to the cable and phone companies to let them know they must notify the county when laying lines.

“What authorization does state law give?” Holstein asked.

McKinney said the county can not prevent the company from laying lines, but notification to the county is required.

Pct. 1 Commissioner Joe Hall said the companies usually mark the location of lines with flags, but they don’t tell how deep the cable is buried.

Commissioners said they’d like to see new cables set to a depth of 36 inches below the surface.

In a letter to McKinney dated Nov. 15, Embarq representative Jennifer Duck wrote, “The county does have a duty to avoid damages to the property of others. The county’s conduct fell below the standard of care thereby breaching your duty owed to Embarq which is the approximate cause of the damage and making you negligent in your duties.”

The company seeks $1,431.05 for a cable damaged in June and $563.01 each for three cables damaged in July and October.

In other action, the commissioners approved a request from Limestone County, tabled last week, to increase the payment for housing prisoners at the Civigenics prison facility from $42 to $44 per day per prisoner.

Henderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Tony Allison said the request was reasonable and the county was fortunate the increase had not been greater.

Holstein said this time next year, with the jail expansion, the county will be in a much better position regarding the housing of prisoners. Instead of paying to send prisoners elsewhere, the county will probably be receiving them.

McKinney said with the time it would take the state to approve and construct new jail space, Henderson County could benefit from its additional beds for four to five years.

The commissioners also voted to pay county obligations totaling $286,716.16.

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e-mail rflowers@athensreview.com

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