By Erik Walsh
The News Staff
ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners saw to two main orders of business June 2: extending the county’s local disaster declaration and giving the Halyard Energy tax abatement final approval.
The County extended its local disaster declaration to match Gov. Greg Abbott’s May 4 date for the State of Texas, opening the county and its residents up to flood relief benefits from the state and federal governments. The funds are needed to recover from the storms and flood damages that drenched much of Texas throughout May.
County Emergency Management Coordinator Joy Kimbrough reported to Commissioners that the rains caused $4.5 million dollars worth of county and private infrastructure damage. She reported that $345,000 of it was purely damage to the county. The county easily qualifies for federal assistance, as $275,000 for damages are needed.
“The fact that the disaster has gone on so long and is not over yet have caused serious damage to the county and its residents,” Kimbrough said.
Precinct 4 was hit particularly hard in May, Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin said. Henderson County Road and Bridge EMployees have been working night and day since storms swept through May 10 and dropped 10 inches of rain on Henderson County.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said the storms have placed his crew two months behind on other projects.
The tax abatement approval came after two workshops and months of discussion. The approval leaves the ball in Halyard Energy’s court to move forward with building a $120 million, natural-gas-fired peaking power plant on County Road 4402 at the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 2588 in Larue.
If Halyard agrees to move forward, the plant will feed additional electricity into the Texas power grid at peak times to prevent brownouts. The abatement would be 95 percent for the first year, and step downward to 75 percent by year 10, the final year of the abatement.
County Judge Richard Sanders said the county will see an estimated $750,000 in tax revenues from the property over a 10-year period, an average of about $75,000 per year.
In other news, Commissioners;
• approved an interlocal agreement between the county and Log Cabin to allow repairs in the community;
• allowed the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office to transfer in-car repeaters to the Coffee City Police Department;
• renewed the inmate housing agreement between the county and Orange County to keep prisoners at a cost of $47 per day in times of disaster, such as a hurricanes;
• approved a contract between the county and the Baxter Volunteer Fire Department for $10,550; and
• paid bills in the amount of $286,708.66.