Employees recognized

A total of 13 employees were recognized Tuesday by the Cherokee County Commissioners’ Court for their years of service to the county, for five or more years. Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell was the only employee to receive a 25-year pin during the recognition ceremony.

RUSK – Renewed health and life insurance packages for county employees were unanimously adopted by the Cherokee County Commissioners Court during their meeting Tuesday, but a related item calling for a “county specific incentive program” was passed upon for further study.

The insurance packages are offered through the Texas Association of Counties, who had representatives on hand to discuss options with county leaders.

Regarding insurance packages, the newly adopted package will slightly raise what employees will pay. With the new plan – which goes into effect Oct. 1 – there will be a $1,000 deductible (employees pay a $750 deductible with the current plan); office visit co-pay rises $5, to $30 per visit; and the upgraded insurance also offers specialist copay of $40 per visit, which is a new feature, according to county human resource director Cara Kettrick.

While new plan is slightly higher, TAC employee benefits consultant Orlando Espinoza assured the court “we want to make sure your rates are pretty stable. The last thing we want is employees to have to get used to something new every year.”

Meanwhile, an incentive plan the court is mulling will tie into encouraging employees to take advantage of what their health plan offers, which in turn – ideally – will help them establish healthier lifestyle patterns. At this time, county leaders said they need to further review the types of incentives that would appeal most to their employees.

Also during the meeting, the commissioners' court set a 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 16, interview date for four candidates seeking a License & Weight officer position. The position, held for several years by Terry Roach, who has since retired, has been vacant since earlier this year.

It also approved a resolution of support for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, which seeks to ensure economic development and creation of jobs within Polk and surrounding counties of Deep East Texas.

Tribe representatives gave a short presentation about Naskila Gaming, which has offered Class II Indian gaming – electronic bingo – since 2015.

The Livingston-area facility has made a strong economic impact in that area, and representatives are traveling around East Texas asking for support of Texas House Resolution 759, which “clarifies the right of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe to offer electronic bingo games at their entertainment facility on tribal land,” according to www.supportactribe.com.

In other action, county leaders:

• Set a July 23 public hearing date – during the next regular court meeting – for two separate requests to set a speed limit of 35 miles per hour along County Road 4725 and CR 2609;

• In separate actions involving the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department, the court granted a department request to accept a $500 donation from a private citizen “to be used for the deputies,” as well as accepted the department's monthly report;

• Approved requests from the City of Rusk to lay utility lines along CR 2304 as well as from Alto Rural Water Supply to lay lines on CR 2604;

• Granted a request from Precinct 3 to amend its budget, transferring $1,000 from purchase of new trucks account into utilities, $3,000 from purchase of new truck into tires, tubes and repairs, and the remaining amount of $9,915 into Road Oil and Paving Materials;

• Gave consent to Precinct 4 to receive dirt or clay material from New Summerfield Schools, which is doing dirtwork as part of a district-wide renovation project;

• Approved a consent agenda that included a replat of Lots 1A &2A, Block 18, Section 2A into Lot 1B, Section 2A, Eagles Bluff – no roads; a monthly report from Precinct 2 Constable Jack White; and payment of bills, payroll and transfer of funds; and

• Received a presentation of the Cherokee County Juvenile Services proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020.

Also during the meeting, the court presented service awards to 13 county employees during Tuesday's meeting. Receiving five-year pins were: Jason Cavazos, Robert Walley, Gregg Gregory, Gerald Pierce and Dana Young; 10 years – Aaron Low, Kelly Traylor, Jack White and Joey Ray; 15 years – Kenneth McClure and George Lindsey; 20 years – Chamberlain Hart; and 25 years – Sheriff James Campbell.

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