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Behind-the-Scenes, County, Healthcare

County Commissioners’ Court

Commissioner's Court

In the County Courthouse Building, second floor (metal detector, security).

Curved, raised seating for the 5 commissioners, with two lower desks attached to the side for assistants of some kind (taking minutes, I believe).

Podium at front for people presenting information.

Other seating is flip-down, padded chairs.

Attended: April 9, 2013

Okay so these types of meetings can have the reputation for being boring. And long. And sometimes both boring and long. But the issues being talked about and decided are important for all of us. Decisions that affect each of our lives – those of us who live in this area.

So I’m trying for a play-by-play, since that is what I like to have. I wanted to know exactly what the meetings were like. What they “felt” like, what kind of business was covered, who the people are.

(I have been unable to find where official minutes might be available to view, from these city and county meetings, although I think they’re out there somewhere, for public consumption. Sometimes those official meeting minutes though, are hard to decipher for the layperson. Tiffany Walden at the Reporter-News is also doing a good job of covering a lot of this type of news. You can check out archives of her articles online.)

So, please come along and hopefully enjoy what’s meant to be a first-person account.

First impression of Commissioners’ Court was the very chilly room. I noticed a camera in the ceiling (a round half-globe with a tiny red light – I learned that this is a camera the hard way when going forward to speak at a meeting in another state, and having someone later tell me they saw me on TV) So I guess the meetings are televised.

Most people present were male, and most had facial hair (this of course has nothing to do with politics, but I noticed it, probably partly because my husband is a clean-shaven military guy). I heard mention of ropin’ – which I didn’t know what that was at the time. I do now.

Everybody rose without prompting at a certain point, so I did too. There was an invocation and the pledge of allegiance.

I noticed during the meeting that Commissioner Stan Egger had a very calm, slow, low voice.

Then someone read in a very quick monotone some regular written stuff.

Then in a normal voice, someone brought up the Medical Care Mission; Dr. Woodward and the jail; George (not sure who that is); and the medical director of the Taylor County Jail Facility.

CMS was mentioned – the Center for Medicaid Services.

A certain percent tax levy for indigent healthcare was mentioned.

“UC” was mentioned, which equals “uncompensated care.”

We don’t have a hospital taxing district – whatever that might be.

I think the main gist of this topic was how to find money to pay for people’s healthcare, who do not pay for it themselves. I believe that our county, being a part of the State is mandated to do this, but not given money to do this.

There was discussion about how to navigate the “paperwork maze” to get a “level 15 waiver” to qualify for federal money.

I suspect that some people object to receiving federal money. I’ve noticed something about that folks think that if the federal government is involved, we will soon become a communist country – or something like that.

This confuses me a little, because I am still under the impression that “we” are this country.

But I also see the drawbacks of too many things not being locally connected.

What the problem might be also is bureaucracy. Red tape that takes time to deal with, that can tangle one up, and that can be hard to fight through.

I think this issue was ended with a delayed motion, and a mention of someone to, “designate an anchor to manage this program.”

Then there was a decision to be made about new seats for the Expo Center coliseum. And some other maintenance-type issues with the building.

What I thought of was that maintaining a County seems very similar to maintaining a house. Things wear out and need repair or replacing. Things need to be cleaned. Things get used and decisions need to be made about purchasing items. This seems obvious now, but I really didn’t see it before.

Say our driveway is full of cracks and weeds. For awhile we can go out there ourselves and squirt on some weed killer, or go to a home supply store and get an asphalt or concrete patch kit or something. But then there might come a time to hire a company to re-surface. We’d likely get estimates, comparison shop, see who was the best to deal with in terms of honesty, efficiency, professional service. Get recommendations from neighbors, etc. So I think that is pretty much what county commissioners do, but on a larger scale.

So apparently there are events every weekend at the Expo center, and the seats are wearing out. Some broken ones have been replaced, and some worn ones down lower towards the front have been switched with ones from up higher. Someone mentioned that chairs used to last 40 years. I think this was in reference to some modern product choices available, being made of lower-quality materials.

This did make me think of whether there are other, new (perhaps “green”) companies to consider purchasing from.

The livestock barn was mentioned.

A separate equestrian facility proposal/idea was mentioned. I think this was a possibility for the future.

“Dirt movement” was mentioned.

A new water line had evidently been recently installed, to solve long-term leaking problems. 2-½ inch galvanized steel pipes in “clay sub-grade” had been replaced with PVC pipe. I think this cost around $50,000.

This water leak was unseen into a sewer line, and “the city [was] working with us on this” by from what I could gather, not charging for some of the water lost.

That it gets HOT here in the summer was mentioned (and this is no joke), and with perhaps 400 head of cattle, the need for extra fans at some of the bigger shows, which need extra generators, was discussed.  “Chillers” were mentioned. [I don’t know what these are, but imagine big, portable A/C units.]

From what else I remember, the man in charge of purchasing talked about the estimates he’d gotten and they went ahead with approving the purchase. They were going to submit the project with estimates to the, “Priority Capital Improvements List.”

Then there was talk about how and when to carry out the installation/removal.

The head of the Expo Center was there and contributed some to the discussion about where to fit the job into the tight event calendar. I think the end of September was decided upon.

There are evidently four big events a year at the Expo Center: The West Texas Fair & Rodeo, the State high school (probably FFA – Future Farmers of America) event, a big 4-H event, and The Western Heritage Classic.

 

 

 

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