Liberty County and seven other SE Texas counties join forces to work on flood control

Liberty County Election Administrator Klint Bush is pictured speaking to Liberty County commissioners at the Jan. 14, 2020, meeting about upcoming primary elections. (File photo)

There is power in numbers and eight Southeast Texas counties are hoping to use that to their advantage as they work on flood control plans and compete for grant funding.

On Tuesday, Jan. 14, Liberty County commissioners authorized the County’s participation in the Southeast Texas Flood Control District, which includes Chambers, Jefferson, Newton, Orange, Tyler, Jasper and Hardin counties, as well as Sabine River Authority, Lower Neches Valley Authority and the Angelina and Neches River Authority.

“This group wants to go after GLO (General Land Office) money that will become available later this year,” Liberty County Engineering Administrator and Grant Coordinator David Douglas explained to the commissioners. “We definitely want to be involved in this. It’s a good opportunity for us to get funding in place that will allow us to study drainage and possibly some remediation.”

District members have their eyes on the possibility of $40 million, which should cover all of the costs to study drainage issues and form a plan that works for all eight counties. Afterward, the counties will work together to get funding to implement the plan.

“You can’t drain water out of Liberty County unless you can get water out of Chambers County. All of our water goes through Chambers County and Cedar Bayou in Harris County,” Douglas said, regarding the need for the counties to work together.

Dues to join the District are $4,646.11, which will be approved at a future commissioners court meeting.

Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski called the District “a step in the right direction when it comes to our flooding and moving water out of the county as fast as it comes in.”

Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson asked what would happen if the District is unable to get GLO funding for the study.

“If they don’t get enough funding to do the study and the plan, then this whole thing will probably back up and we will apply for other funding or disband,” Douglas said.

The flood control district is not expected to interfere with any other flood control or drainage district plans underway in any of the member counties, such as the Cedar Bayou Drainage District, which includes Chambers, Liberty and Harris counties.

Former Harris County Judge Robert Eckels is spearheading the Southeast Texas Flood Control District.

Commissioners also received a primer on local elections from Elections Administrator Klint Bush. He explained that the county’s biggest expense regarding elections is for early voting and the general election held in November.

“Every year for a primary election, the Democratic Party, Republican Party and any other party handle their own primaries. This year, both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have agreed to do a joint primary election that is cost-sharing,” Bush said. “This contract enables the county to be paid for the services we render through my office to handle this primary election for both parties. It’s more a formality.”

Bush told commissioners he would be back before then in the coming weeks for them to approve polling locations for the March 3 primary.

Liberty County employees who pay child support through the Attorney General’s Office will soon be assessed a $3 per month fee per cause number. County Treasurer Kim Harris said the County must pass on the costs for electronic child support payments to the employee and commissioners agreed.

Liberty County Historical Commission Chair Linda Jamison appeared before commissioners for a formal approval of restoration work at the Liberty County Courthouse. The work must be performed in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act and the formal approval was the next step in gaining project funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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