Editors note: On Tuesday, Commissioner Pct. 4 James Olsen contacted the Daily Sun to clarify Navarro County Commissioners' position on the Texas Central Railway project.
At the meeting Monday, TCR representative Elizabeth Grindstaff utilized the public comment portion of the meeting to provide an unsolicited update on the project.
"We have no interest in discussing the high speed rail project," Olsen told the Daily Sun, adding that the court has no plans to engage with TCR now or in the future.
In fact, according to Olsen, Commissioners have previously approved resolutions to prevent TCR from operating within Navarro County.
Olsen said that Navarro County Commissioners oppose the high speed rail project as it has no economic advantage for the area and cannot utilize eminent domain.
Navarro County Commissioners Court met Monday, June 24. During the public comment portion of the meeting Elizabeth Grindstaff, a stakeholder manager for Texas Central Railway covering Navarro and Grimes counties, gave Commissioners an update on the progress of the high-speed rail project.
“I'm pleased to say the project continues to move forward and we anticipate construction to begin as early as next year,” Grindstaff said.
The company seeks to meet with county officials to discuss the details of a master agreement addressing TCR's assumptions of the costs related to development and construction of new or re-routed county roads and traffic controls during construction, maintenance plans and the county's review of the design of certain civil infrastructures.
An overview of the final conceptual engineering report, as well as county-specific alignment maps with proposed locations of wildlife crossings, emergency response and maintenance staging areas and other details like safety and security is also being developed.
Grindstaff said that the company realizes there are questions and concerns related to the project and seeks to provide opportunities to communicate information to elected officials and residents.
Commissioners drew 24 names from the county's pool of grand jurors to serve on a Salary Grievance Committee, which hears elected officials' concerns regarding their salary.
Formerly, the state required the committee be named each January, however new legislature only requires a committee to be formed when needed. Judge H.M. Davenport stated that the county would form its committee preemptively.
Director of Economic Development John Boswell presented a request from Clean Vision Solar, LLC to amend the tax abatement agreement between the company and Navarro County to keep the company in compliance.
Clean Vision Solar asked that Commissioners amend the dates included in the contract by one year, changing the starting date to July 2020. According to Boswell, all other terms will remain the same. Commissioners approved the requested amendment.
The $120 million dollar solar farm project, located primarily in the Blooming Grove ISD, received a 10-year tax abatement on a declining scale from Commissioners in April.
A utility easement for GoodAlta Power Center, LLC was approved, contingent upon the approval from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality air and gas permits.
Boswell told Commissioners that the easement was necessary to bring a financial close to the $60 million project and added that the company has not requested any incentives from the county.
In other business, Commissioners authorized County Auditor Terri Gillen to go out for bids for a new roof and HVAC for Annex 2.
Commissioners reviewed and approved the annual road reports reflecting the conditions of each precinct's county roads. The burn ban remains off at this time.
A letter of engagement for a financial audit by Brown & Company for the federal TEXOMA HIDTA grant was approved, as well as a non-corporate resolution form for Multi-Bank Securities, Inc. to consult on the county's investment policy.
The Southern Software Computer Services contract with the Navarro County Sheriff's Department and Jail was approved along with the Tyler Technologies contract with the County Clerk and a lease agreement with Document Solutions for a Xerox printer in the Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 office was accepted.
Commissioners took no action following an executive session discussing economic development.