Liberty County commissioners during their Oct. 8 meeting approved grant applications that could expand the services offered to local veterans. Rolondria Webb with Liberty County Veterans Services explained that the grants, if approved, could help prevent homelessness among veterans and help modify veterans’ homes to improve their mobility.
Webb explained that the Texas Veterans Commission, the state veteran organization, has set aside $28 million for this fiscal year and mandated that 5 percent of that budget be spent on local veteran services in each county.
“We want to take advantage of it. The General Assistance Grant is broken down into financial assistance, support services, transportation and legal support. We are seeking to do financial assistance because we give veterans coming into our office financial assistance,” she said. “With transportation, because we have a second van in place (to carry veterans to and from VA hospitals), we want to see about expanding on our services. We would like a dial-up service where the veterans can call in and leave a message if they need a ride.”
The dial-up service will save money and time because it will eliminate unnecessary travel.
“The drivers will know if they have to go to Cleveland or other areas. It’s a great way to curb costs,” Webb said.
The second grant available is through the Texas Housing for Heroes program, which works to prevent homelessness among veterans.
“This grant can also be used for home modifications for veterans who need ramps, those who don’t qualify for benefits through the VA and they fall through the gap,” she said.
As the Texas Housing for Heroes grant is a reimbursement grant, the County will have to pay for the assistance in advance and then await reimbursement from the federal government.
“As long as we dot our Is and cross our Ts for every veteran we are helping, and as long as everything is correct, then Texas Housing for Heroes will give us reimbursement money,” Webb said.
According to Webb, oversight of the grant application process also come from the county auditor’s office.
“We have to work closely with the auditor because they want you to have a financial adviser in place,” she said. “We are implementing forms that ensure when veterans come in, that they have all the required documents before being approved. If they lack one form, then we can’t submit it.”
County commissioners also approved a master agreement between the County and the volunteer fire departments for fire protection services. County Judge Jay Knight said that in the last four years the County has significantly upped the amount that is paid to the various fire departments.
“When I first walked through the door as county judge, they were getting a $300,000 budget. Now it’s about $780,000. That’s just in the last four years,” Knight said. “We had to increase it to get them where they ought to be. Some of the fire departments are members of an ESD so they aren’t getting as much as they others. The ESDs help fund the fire departments within their district.”
Knight said that County Fire Marshal Bill Hergemueller does an excellent job of working with the fire departments. The County has appointed an assistant fire marshal, Hardin Fire Chief Craig Powell, to help Hergemueller.
In other business, commissioners:
- appointed Craig Russell to the Liberty County Central Appraisal District Board;
- approved the sale of delinquent tax properties to Larry Lambright and Anthony Landry;
- approved the lease-purchase of dump trucks for Pct. 2 through a buy-board contract;
- approved moving the voting location of Pct. 26 for the Nov. 5, 2019, election from St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church to New Salem Baptist Church, 1518 CR 318, due to flood damage from Tropical Storm Imelda;
- approved the appointment of Audrey Harrison of Ames to the Liberty County Housing Authority board of directors
They tabled the purchase of a fleet management program that can track the maintenance, mileage and dependability of sheriff’s office vehicles. The reason for tabling the decision was to give the County’s new IT person an opportunity to be certain the fleet management program will work with other software systems already in place.