Presidents Day was a quiet one at the Henderson County Precinct 2 headquarters in Eustace, and that's been a rare occurrence during Scott Tuley's first two months as commissioner.
“It's been going smoothly,” said Tuley, the first new leader at Precinct 2 in 20 years. “The guys have been receptive of me. I've seen them at work and I'm proud to be their commissioner. When you see them out on the job, it's evident that road maintenance is a team effort.”
Tuley and foreman Barry Hudgens quickly formed a good working relationship and the precinct has been unusually busy for the winter months.
Tuley was elected in November. He said his transition, stepping into the position formerly held by new County Judge Wade McKinney, has been more complicated than he expected.
“There's a whole lot more to it than everybody thinks.”
Tuley said his crew has been setting up a pigmill at the precinct that will save the county thousands of dollars each year. The mill will be used to mix the oil and sand to be used repairing roads.
“The numbers just jump off the page. To go out and buy the oil-sand costs $72 a ton. To do it here will cost $27 a ton.”
The machine was moved to the site from Scurry, in Kaufman County, in about five pieces and installed at the back of the Precinct 2 property. He expects the pigmill to be operational by at least mid March.
Precincts 1 and 3 already have belly dump trailers that they'll be able to use to haul the material from Eustace.
“We'll back them in, load them and they can leave toward their precinct,” Tuley said.
According to one vendor, belly dump trailers haul loose material, but the product is unloaded from a gate at the bottom of the trailers. By unloading at the bottom of the trailer, the driver is able to spread the load out over a large area.
“One thing we need is some dry weather,” Tuley said. “That's the one thing that my foreman says. We've got to have dry sand.”
With the pigmill, the county won't be at the mercy of an asphalt plant.
“If the weather's not right, they won't fire the asphalt plant to get a product out here so we can get to the road,” Tuley said.
Tuley said his precinct now has two Dura Patchers — an innovative way of fixing potholes on Precinct 2 roads. Dura patching can be done in all types of climates. It involves mixing an emulsion with pea gravel.
“It's a two-person process and can be done in rain, sleet or snow,” Tuley said. “We have seen great strides in not having to go back out and redo the pothole.”
Tuley wants to spend as much of the money it takes to run his precinct within the locally.
“We'll look for the local vendors in Precinct 2 first, then Henderson County, before going outside the county,” Tuley said.
Tuley spent more than 20 years at TXU and Oncor. Parts of his job there will be useful. Some of Tuley's early days with the county have been spent attending required classes in Austin and in College Station. The commissioner must have 36 hours of continuing education related to the job.
In Austin, Tuley attended new commissioners' school. In College Station, Tuley participated in the four-day VG Young Institute School for County Commissioners. One of the main sessions is an overview of county budgeting.
Some other courses designed especially for commissioners are “design and operation of culverts,” “opening, closing and vacating county roads” and “TxDOT updates.”
Tuley said he wants to cross train his employees so an absence of one person won't slow down the projects his department is working on. He also wants them to learn CPR.
Tuley has lived in the boundaries of Precinct 2 since 1999.
“I have the highest respect for the citizens of Precinct 2 and have always loved the southern portion of Henderson County,” he said. “He and his wife, Angie Harley Tuley, raised their family and operated a business there.”
Tuley served for 14 years distributing the Dallas Morning News for the district.
“I'm serving the same people I served then,” Tuley said.