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County approves interactive web map detailing county lands - Odessa American: Ector County

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Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017 4:08 pm

The Ector County Commissioners’ Court unanimously approved a motion authorizing the use of a geographic information system web map to help both the county and the citizens in viewing county data such as plots of land, flood zones, addresses and more during their 10 a.m. Monday meeting.

“One important aspect of highways and street operation and of course any other county department operation is the ability to obtain data pertaining to county assets,” Highways and Streets Department Director Evans Kessey told the commissioners’ court.

Jon Sciammarella, the New Product Development Manager with iWorq, the company developing the system, told the court the system would cut down on time county employees would have to spend retrieving data, such as property information. The demonstration of the system during the meeting showed a layout of Ector County roads with data on various parcels, as well as the ability to switch between views of roads, terrain, and a satellite view of Ector County.

“It’s going to make it very easy for the county to present geographical data,” Sciammarella told the court.

Citizens will also be able to use the system to submit requests for things such as potholes, and the system, will be accessible from the Ector County website as it launches in mid-December. Ector County, along with five other counties, will be the first counties to use a public web map service. The first year will be provided at no cost, and will only have a cost should the commissioners vote to renew the service next year.

Commissioners then heard presentations from two separate law firms regarding the opioid epidemic, requesting to represent the county in a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and other major medical companies regarding the misleading distribution of opioids such as OxyContin.

The first presentation was from lawyers Robert White and Jeffrey Simon. White said Simon had already been hired by 23 counties and seven lawsuits have already been filed against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

“It’s important we move forward as quickly as we can, because otherwise, the state’s going to file a lawsuit and will determine how much money you get,” White told the commissioners. “If you file your own lawsuit, you get the money directly.”

Simon told the court that of the 40 million opioid users in the U.S., around 16 million are fully addicted or dependent on the medication.

“It’s a 78-and-a-half billion dollar annual problem,” Simon said.

The reason for the expense, Simon added, is because it’s an expensive addiction to treat, yet only 2 cents out of every federal dollar is spent on the addiction. He added that a study from Castlight Health determined Ector County was the 15th most opioid abusing county in the U.S., and the Center for Disease Control found Ector County is suffering 16 to 18 accidental overdose deaths per 100,000 annually, two-thirds of which are related to opioid abuse.

Patrick Luff, from the Luff Law Firm in San Antonio, gave a presentation as well, comparing the pharmaceutical companies to tobacco companies. He said that the companies had created front groups that would parade around what they called medical literature to doctors, treating them as peer-reviewed studies coming from research departments, when they really came from marketing departments.

The county did not dismiss the idea of a lawsuit, but made no decision yet as to hiring a law firm.

“I don’t take suing people lightly,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Dale Childers told the court.

Childers suggested a motion, which was approved unanimously, to discuss the matter with the insurance committee, which Childers and Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Simmons are members of. He said the committee would be sitting down with the purchasing department to look at how they’re going to do the request for qualification forms for the bidding firms, then send the qualifications out to attorneys across Texas, and decide whether they want to proceed with the lawsuit, and with which firm. Childers added there is no definitive time yet when that decision will be made. The motion passed 4-0, with County Judge Ron Eckert abstaining due to attending law school with Simon.

Gino Solla, the Ector County Health Department Director, gave an informative presentation to the court asking to set up standard operating procedures for Manufactured Home Rental Community applications approved by the court, asking for any requests made by mobile home communities to be approved within 30 days so that complaints may be addressed.

Simmons asked how the plan would work in conjunction through the ordinance already in place.

“I don’t want to just add another layer of bureaucracy into the program,” Simmons said.

“You can’t approve an RV park until we release the complaint,” Solla said. “So this is how it covers that we go ahead and allow the court to approve it with us following up to make sure the complaint is remedied.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddy Shelton mentioned that what brought this about was that the court could not approve a plat because it had an ongoing complaint, and they couldn’t fix the complaint because they didn’t have a plat.

Kessey took the podium again Monday, asking to establish a policy that will detail requirements to be met before seized, awarded or donated equipment be added to the Ector County Fleet Inventory. This policy was necessary due to the high cost of maintenance and repairs for some of the equipment and vehicles donated or received, Kessey said, sometimes exceeding the value of the equipment donated.

The item was tabled after Sheriff Mike Griffis told the court he would like to have discussions with Kessey and other parties on the subject.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension presented Shelton with a Commissioners Court Leadership Academy certificate of completion.
  • Proposed resolutions in support of I-14 re-designation and a study to extend I-27 to I-20 were unanimously approved.
  • A proposed bond for Shelton was approved unanimously.
  • A motion to authorize out-of-state travel and training for the Emergency Management Department for the Virtual Emergency Operations Center on the Internet in New Haven, CT from Dec. 11 to Dec. 14 was approved unanimously.
  • A donation of $5,000 from Occidental Petroleum Corporation and a donation of $12,000 from Barnhart Bolt & Special, both to the Ector County Sheriff’s Office, were approved unanimously.
  • The disposal of assets that were noted as junked, dismantled, or traded-in was approved unanimously.
  • The missing assets from the departments on the items that could not be found on their 2017 inventory were approved unanimously.
  • The LCA Proposal for Civil Engineering and Surveying Services for public waterline improvements to the Ector County Law Enforcement Center was approved unanimously.
  • The current contract between Ector County and Vector Fleet was unanimously approved to be extended for an additional one-year period.
  • The proposed Professional Services Agreement between Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso and Ector County Public Health Department was approved unanimously.
  • The proposed consulting agreement between Ector County and Sciens LLC was approved unanimously.
  • A proposed addendum to the GEO group contract modification 16 and 17 to adjust the current per diem rate of $61.45 to $61.90 and the guard and transportation rate of $25.66 to $25.80 was approved unanimously.
  • The proposed Health Benefits Plan document for Fiscal Year 2018 was approved unanimously.
  • Proposed revisions to the Ector County Employee Handbook regarding Section 5.05 Emergency Closings, Section 5.07 Workplace Violence Prevention and Section 5.17 Possession of Guns by County Employees on County Premises were approved unanimously.
  • A proposed line item transfer to General Fund, Environmental Enforcement, Departmental Furniture and Equipment, from Motor Vehicle Equipment in the amount of $2,458 was approved unanimously.
  • A budget amendment to Self-Funded Health benefits Fund, Air Ambulance Premiums and Air Ambulance Premiums expense in the amount of $12,912 was approved unanimously.
  • A list of qualified brokers authorized by the Commissioners’ Court to engage in investment transactions was approved unanimously.
  • The Ector County Investment Policy, the Investment Report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2017, and the Accounts Payable Fund Requirements Report for Nov. 13 2017 were approved unanimously.

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